To honor the memory of Bruce B. Blackburn III...
a collection of stories for and about the people who touched his heart


A Bucks County State of Mind Written 2000

Sitting outside recently on the back deck of my Doylestown home, I spent a particularly pleasant afternoon free associating and thinking easy thoughts. A breeze gently stirred the long-needle boughs of several nearby pines, freshening the air around me, and I thought about what makes Bucks County, PA the splendid place it is.

“This Is It!” My wife, Marie, and I first motored through Bucks County several years ago, and I felt something special about it from the moment I laid eyes on its bristling August cornfields and winding rural roads. It was as if my heart had been yearning for something, wanting more from the world, and the land itself spoke to me, saying, This is it, Home! And I knew it was right. Marie had been drawn to the area in 1993 by a professional opportunity in New Hope, and though neither of us had ever heard of New Hope, it of course sounded promising. Like a doctor (I’m prone to say), being a writer means I can work just about anywhere. After surveying the area, we chose to live in Doylestown, a lovely place with charming architecture (those Mercer castles!) in a perfectly painterly setting. With its quaint Victorian architecture, unique downtown shops, the Michener Museum, crafts, history and antiques, there was grace and culture to spare, right on our front doorstep. Convenient to a first-class hospital, the river, the airport, art and shopping—Doylestown was ideal. A wonderful walking town; a bucolic rural township. We’ve been charmed ever since.

Bucks County Being But in the bigger picture, I consider myself above all a Bucks County being. Like the artists before me who loved and painted its landscapes, I delight in the seasonal variations that pass before my eyes. Like the artists living and working here today, I savor the open fields and wooded tracts, firefly nights, small hills and little valleys that surround the sweeping Delaware River and canal; all so fresh in the morning, splendid in the afternoon sun and beautiful by moonlight. Seasonally sensational, Bucks County is green in spring and summer, and yellow and red in the fall. Winters, it snoozes under snowfalls as if beneath a thick white comforter, while tiny lights twinkle year-round in the deep window wells of old fieldstone farmhomes. Visitors travel hundreds of miles to take in our scenery. I walk out my door. Wherever I am, Bucks County speaks to me, whispering through the forests, burbling from its wine-water streams, sweet, alive and enchanting. Though I'm no longer young, it speaks to me as the world once did when I was a boy and thought I might fly over its treetops if I could just run and windmill my arms fast enough to leave the ground.

Endlessly Inspiring Endlessly, Bucks County inspires me. Those old stone homes still entice even if, from what I hear, they can be a real labor of love. Plus we’ve made friends here, fine folks, good neighbors. Doylestown makes a grand home base, and this outdoor deck the perfect place from which to ruminate—especially when the gentle wind blows, and I’m in a Bucks County state of mind. BBB

Our Story Written 1994

Marie and I have a story to tell. Like storytellers of old, she's told it to a lot of people already. Sometimes just in passing conversation, other times because she felt it could help someone facing a difficult personal challenge. It's that kind of story.

Profound Message

Our story has a profound message. Reaction to it is inevitably intense and emotional. For a while now Marie has urged me to write it down—not only because it is an intriguing account, but because she is convinced people will take away from it insights and lessons in living happier, more fulfilling lives, whatever their age and regardless of their relationships, financial status or health.

We met at an exciting time in our lives at the University of South Florida in Tampa. I walked into my first photo lab class and was immediately captivated by the attractive, dark-haired laboratory assistant in her white lab coat. Before long, we discovered our friendship was magnetic, and we developed a bond that was irrevocable. The year was 1973. After graduation, caught up in seedling career pursuits, we traveled separate paths. In the late 1980s, my health dramatically declined. Chronic congenital asthma had me on high doses of steroids since the age of fifteen, and side effects were taking their toll. Significant problems with my lungs, heart, bones and circulation, plus chronic pain and multiple drug interactions, had worn me down. I was weak, unable to work, alone and nearly bedridden at home in Vienna, VA. Hopeless, bankrupt, deserted and in despair, I had given up.

The Visit

Upon learning of my condition, Marie actively reentered my life. She regularly called from Florida and sent me books and tapes on positive thinking, love and healing, but they seemed to have little effect. I was slipping away. My status plummeted to terminal. I was in the hospital near death when she summoned all her courage and decided to visit me on my thirty-eighth birthday, May 23rd, 1991.

The visit proved to be a turning point in both our lives. From then on a love stronger than we believed could happen—richer and more miraculous than we’d ever imagined possible suffused our lives and permeated our days. Marie soon returned to Florida, and our newly discovered love filled my heart with hope. The energy it created spurred an attitude shift that empowered me to fight for my health and our life together.

After ten months in the hospital, I was taken by air ambulance to a nursing home in Florida. Marie met me there. Hospice placed me on its roster and visited regularly. So did Marie. Between the nursing home and Marie, I existed between purgatory and paradise. Being there was my worst nightmare, but Marie came every day, often for hours. She stood my ground for me when I could not. She so steadfastly refused to accept losing me that I began to wonder if I just might be worth saving. I decided I must be; I decided to fight.

Mirror-Image Reversal

In an upbeat, mirror-image reversal of my descent toward doom, Marie nurtured me back from the abyss. I began making progress, gaining control. Hospice graciously withdrew its services and wished me the best, which I already knew I had found.

Today, our goals are unified: to be happy and healthy, achieve professional success, to help others embrace a positive attitude toward living and wellness, and to remain together, always and forever. BBB