Even in the final months of his life, my husband, Tim Gould, knew how to make me laugh. “Dear, I’ve been meaning to show you something. Come here, please.” He leads me into our tiny, tiled bathroom. He points to two tubes atop the toilet; one ointment soothes hemorrhoids, the other cleans teeth. “Don’t get them confused.”
When Timothy E. Gould, 69, died at our West Chester home in the small hours of March 11, so went a man whose creative talents – writer, editor, carpenter, and at one time, wooden boat maker – had fought to occupy the grief-filled space, filled by the losses and personal demons he endured during his life. Just to name one: the suicide of his adult son, Jonathan, seven years ago.
But the internal battle did not stop him from teaching others. He taught me how to be generous. If you have some money in the bank and a family member needs some, hand it over. No loans, he would say.
He was generous sharing his years of writing and editing experience. During his 15 or so years at Progressive Business Publications in Malvern, Tim was the schoolmaster. He called the young new writers, his “lads.” To them, Tim was friend and mentor.
This is not to say he shared with a gentle touch -- his years of tortured fealty to his beloved Chicago Bears no doubt helped mold his disposition. No, his personal disdain for poor writing, typos and bad grammar was stuff of legend, as was the profanity used to describe his disdain. He wasn’t that profane with me, when I was one of his underlings. Yes, that’s how we met. “I have to marry her or fire her,” he would say. He would tell all who listened that our relationship resembled “young love and the merger of two luggage manufacturers.”
Let's let the lads, Christian and Jared, describe editor Tim.
"Tim hated it when we'd write something he'd describe as "soft" or "flowery" and rather than just tell us that, he'd draw a picture of a man getting sick in the margin." And, if something wasn't clear, three initials written next to the offending remark made Tim's feelings quite clear.
In our house, Tim built bookcases, a fireplace mantel, a built-in china closet. It all slowed to a trickle after his son’s death, and halted four years ago with his cancer diagnosis. I will stop the story there.
No, just one more paragraph: about five people. His grandchildren. Our merger brought into the fold his daughter Katie’s three and my daughter Leslie’s two. They had the ability to at least suspend Tim’s pain.
He wanted no service, no formal funeral of any kind. So, we came up with the idea of having a Tell Tim Stories event in late April for friends and family. More to come.
People of a certain age talk about breaking the mold regarding people who have a free spirit, who are unwilling to follow a rule unless it makes sense and benefits all. Tim Gould’s maker used no mold; he wanted a freehanded creation.
Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. 410 N. Church St. West Chester, PA 19380 610-696-1181, www.DellaFH.com
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