Thursday, December 8, 2022

Status Update • 8 December 2022

After a lifetime in the writing racket, these are some of the most difficult words I’ve ever had to write. 

BETHKE (Karwacki), Karen M.

Passed away peacefully at home and surrounded by family on December 3, 2022, after a courageous 12-year battle against metastatic breast cancer. An avid reader, talented cook, and loving mother, stepmother, and grandmother, Karen is preceded in death by parents Carl and Louise and stepdaughter Emily and survived by husband Bruce, sons Daniel and Samuel, stepdaughters Veronica and Frances, and many grandchildren, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. Formerly a securities broker, 20 years ago she made the decision to quit her high-pressure corporate job and devote herself to her family, and she never regretted it.

Funeral arrangements pending. The family wishes to thank the staff at Minnesota Oncology for giving her excellent care and buying her more time than anyone thought possible. In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Angel Foundation.


How do you cook half a century together down to 150 words? Karen was my wife, my life partner, my best friend, my arch enemy, the love of my life and the bane of my existence. She was my sounding board, my sparring partner, the wind beneath my wings, my lover, my companion, my lover (it’s worth mentioning twice), the mother of our son, my lover (okay, three times), my inspiration, my exasperation… She was my Lucy, always eager to go charging off on some half-planned and hare-brained new adventure, and I was her Ricky, always trying to get her to calm down, take a deep breath, and think sensibly. She was all the things that make life interesting, challenging, and fun, all rolled up into one person.

And now, suddenly, my life is much too calm, quiet, and sensible.

When she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2010 her oncologist told her she had about two years left and advised her to start doing her estate planning. She said, “That’s not enough time,” and lasted another twelve years—and at the end, still hadn’t finished her estate planning. She was too busy living.

There won’t be a funeral, per se. In accordance with her wishes her body will be cremated and her ashes scattered over Lake Michigan at a later date. We will have a small requiem mass for her at our church, on a date we’re still trying to get settled, and then sometime next Spring or Summer, when things are green and growing again, we’ll throw a big party for her, to celebrate her life. She was very specific about wanting any memorial donations made in her name to go to the Minnesota Angel Foundation, because, as she put it, “They don’t support clinics or doctors or fund research or anything like that. They directly support cancer patients and their families, and help them with rent, utilities, and meals.”

That’s the kind of person she was: someone who believed that helpful actions were always far more important than words.


So what does this mean for the future of Stupefying Stories and Rampant Loon Press? I don’t know yet. Ask me again in a few weeks. The past three years were pretty much devoured by her cancer—slowly and insidiously at first, then accelerating exponentially until the last three months, which were sheer Hell—but now it looks like I’m going to have a lot more time on my hands in 2023. What will I do with it?

I don’t know right now. Ask me next year.

Until then, as a parting gift, here are some links to a few stories on our old SHOWCASE site that Karen plucked out of the slush pile and insisted I simply had to buy and publish. There are lots more stories out there that were published because she championed them, but these four will do for a starter. 


And thank you very much for your support and understanding as we work through these difficult times. 

Kind regards,
Bruce Bethke

P.S. This is us in Iceland in 2018. How many Stage 4 cancer patients decide to celebrate going into remission by tromping around glaciers and lava fields and going whale-watching 40 miles from the Arctic Circle? It was her idea.


Álex Souza said...

My condolences, Bruce! I lost an aunt to breast cancer, so I know how tough the treatment is. I hope your wife meets Our Lady on this day of the Immaculate Conception.


Guerry said...

Ah Bruce, so sad to hear this. You've both been in our prayers and thoughts for a long time, and will continue to be.


Bruce Arthurs said...

Very sorry to hear this, Bruce.

Leatherwing said...

So sorry to hear this, Bruce. You and your family will remain in our prayers.


Invictus said...

Twelve years; damn, she put up a hell of a fight. I only knew her through your words, having never had the opportunity to meet or speak with her, but she sounds wonderful. Wish I'd known her. My sorrows for your loss.

Unknown said...

God, I'm so sorry to hear this.

Frank C said...

Bruce. My sincerest condolences. Karen sounds like and amazing and courageous woman. I wish you all the best.
-- Frank Colligan

Unknown said...

Bruce, I am very sorry to hear this. You both have been very brave in dealing with this. May her soul rest in peace.
- Garima Khanna

Randy Liske said...

So sorry Bruce -I put your other post on the RedCat Angles page- hope that's OK !

Unknown said...


So sad to read about Karen. You were blessed to have each other and to have lived such rich lives. Take care.

- Mario Lowther