Monday, January 14, 2008

Thor, God of Thunder, Silenced. April 1, 1962--January 14, 2008

I first met Thor during my trial period as Andrew's fiancé. I understood during this time that if I was rejected by Nancy, Kathy, or Thor, there probably wouldn't be a wedding.


You have no idea.

Nancy, Kathy, and Thor are some of the smartest, funniest, quickest, best people I've ever met. And while I grew to love them all, Thor always held a special place in my heart for a number of reasons:
  1. I'd heard hundreds of stories about him while dating Andrew six years earlier (including his climbing Half-Dome, slipping, falling forty feet onto his head, then getting drunk at a New Year's party shortly thereafter and pulling his stitches out for fun);
  2. I'd spent a considerable amount of time while dating Andrew wearing a discarded Rugby jersey of Thor's;
  3. I didn't believe any of the stories about him were true... until I met him. And realized they'd probably been played down from their technicolor reality;
  4. Any time you have the opportunity to meet an actual Norwegian Thunder's a special event.
There are many who knew him better than I and many who will post about him with more of value to say, but he's in my heart too. He was...blustery. He didn't suffer fools. He was not an easy person.

But he was good. I'm sure there are female Democratic operatives (and Ann Coulter) who might like to disagree with me on that as he wasn't exactly P.C., but he never, never treated me with anything but respect (once he approved me as Andrew's To-Be). And honestly, Andrew and an age-old friendship aside, if he didn't like me, I (and anyone nearby) would have known it.

I think that moment where I earned his stamp-of-approval came at a bar in Atlanta where I was suffering from an hellacious spider bite. I asked the waiter if I could get a black tea bag and boiling water. He looked at me as though I had just stepped off the surface of Mars, when I explained that my Mother-in-Law-to-be had showed me how I could take a boiling hot tea bag and apply it to the bites to alleviate the pain/itch. (Yeah, it hurts, but it must open the pores enough to get some tannins in there b/c it works.) Anyhoo, the waiter said he had no tea bags but he'd be back with some bacon.

If I recall correctly there were a few beats of silence before we all started sniggering, thinking he was an idiot (I believe this is where I was also introduced to the phrase, "parts is parts..."). The waiter returned with several strips of bacon which he--no joke--scotch taped to my leg. There's photographic proof of this in one of Nancy's albums (and it worked for a bit!--thanks to Nancy for the photographic evidence...see below). That's the same night I took a picture of Nancy, Katie, and Thor. And that's the night Thor told Andrew it was okay with him if we got married.

Later, I managed to hunt Thor down in Croatia...Serbia...Kosovo I think...somewhere that was broken, that he was helping fix...and asked him if he would be able to make it to my husband's 40th birthday party. I fully expected an, "I'd love to, but..." response because, Dude...he was in Kosovo.
What I got was, "I wouldn't miss it for the world!"

He's the one who snuck upstairs with me to put ALL the candles on Andrew's cake. He's the one who carried it down dark and dangerous steps at Marie's Crisis
and presented it to Andrew (I was pretty largely pregnant at the time).

He's the one who could always make me laugh...generally inappropriately, but laugh a lot.
Anyway, like I said, there are plenty of hundreds of people who knew him better than me, but it's important to remember, right? It's important not just to be a Speaker For the Dead, but a Speaker OF the Dead. It's the only way he stays alive, yeah? In stories. In legends (but seriously, he did fall off Half Dome and took the stitches out at the party). And in our hearts.
And I fully expect to see a Facebook posting or get an email from him tomorrow saying,
"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated..."

It would be like him...

A sampling of that good humor...from his Facebook page...posted today.

And a perfectly Thor picture.

You can read details of the tragedy here and a more complete version with his name in it from the kind Rhonda Cook at the Atlanta Journal Constitution here.


Elizabeth said...

I'm very sorry Heather. It's so horrible when such great people are taken while doing great things.

Lynn said...

I'm sorry for your family's loss..and the loss of our country's.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. My thoughts are with you.

Anne Lindenfeld said...

Hi fellow knitter and FOT (friend of Thor):

I was looking at memorial postings to Thor and found your blog.

Thanks for your very kind posting. It was lovely.


kim said...

Heather, I am so sorry for your and your husband's loss. It's especially tragic that Thor's life was shortened in such as stupid and pointless manner.

From your post and your husband's and the dwarf story on the memorial stage, Thor seems to have been one-of-a-kind and we're all diminished by his passing.

mrswade said...


Mostly I just lurk here and listen to your podcast at Craftlit. But Thor's passing touched me. I didn't know the man, but through your openness and generosity during your podcast, I feel like I know you. I hope that you are able to find some comfort with Andrew and to be some comfort for him in this horrible time. We that listen and lurk are here for you too.

Jenn said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful person. One who will be missed and one who made quite a mark on the world.

Lumie said...

Every time I read something about this man my heart goes out to all the people who have loved and lost this man. I'm also angry over the attach that took his life. My thoughts are with your family and his.

mrspilkington said...

I'm so sorry....What a lovely tribute you've written, just bursting with love.

yarnophiliac said...

Dear Heather,
Twice, in just a few days, your writings have touched me deeply. I only recently found your podcast and blog, and was immobilized reading the other day reading your account of Sept. 11 and the accounts of your students. (I was also a High School english teacher that day, although in a much safer place.) And now, I see the horror has reached you and yours again. Please know my thoughts and wishes of deepest comfort go out to you, your husband, and the family and loved ones of Thor.
~another Heather

wolfhoundgirl said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss, and from what you described, the whole world's loss. He sounds like an amazing person. Thinking of you and the other people that he has touched. Take care.

knitting2relax said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Remember all the laughs and all the good Thor did for the world. Thanks for sharing a bit about him with the rest of us.