By Carrie Zahm
I was 4 years old. It was a summer day. I was sitting alone in front of our home, playing contentedly. A half block away, Tim was walking toward the house, duffel bag slung over his shoulder, returning from who-knows-where. Suddenly, I stood up, stiffened my arms beside me, and screamed at the top of my lungs. Assuming that some sort of tragedy had befallen me, such as a sting from a nasty bee, he threw off his duffel bag and ran full speed with the mission to save me. When he reached me, he gasped, “What’s wrong?” I shrieked, “You’re home!” Then I threw myself into his arms.
I don’t know if I remember that story on my own, or if I heard it repeated so many times by Tim, that I think I do.
He called me Care Bear. My earliest memories of Tim include him reading aloud to the youngest siblings, John, Joe and me. He would read us things like The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hobbit. He used a different voice for every character, and the stories jumped off the pages to life. Even when he was a teenager, he had a big impact on our upbringing.
I was aware that our parents weren’t sure initially of this strange thing that their often, shall I say, “spirited,” son had entangled himself in while in Ann Arbor. It didn’t take long though before they saw the good in his involvement, and how it was forming him. They were proud.
He kept close ties to the family even with his world travels and commitments. When he came home, he was always full of colorful stories of his adventures. He never focused on his exploits. Rather, he was more concerned for how everyone in the family was faring. He was always incredibly affirming and encouraging, even down to the youngest of his nieces and nephews. He made strong connections. By the time I was ten, I began visiting Ann Arbor and “seeing” what my big brother was doing. It was simultaneously foreign and warmly welcoming. He never pushed. He only invited. He was quietly leading us to the Lord. And several of us followed.
Bruce’s full name was Bruce Timothy Yocum, and in his family he was always known as “Tim”.
Carey Zahm is Bruce’s youngest sister. She and her husband Tony have four children and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan.