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Sunday, July 30, 2023

 The singularly nicest person in my life died two weeks ago but I couldn't bring myself to her funeral.

I'm still brittle from mom's death.

I imagined crying through the two-hour drive, then crying through the services, then crying for another two-hour drive back.

And probably crying for days after, which I did anyway.

Micki Dierks was the nicest, sweetest, kindest person in my life. 

I met her in college when I was a 22-year-old freshman and she was a sophomore. Without any talent or intelligence, I applied to be the opinion editor for the college newspaper, The Spectator, and -- good or bad -- was accepted, I assume because no one else wanted to do it. We first met when I attended the semester starting meeting -- everyone in the room knew each other except for me. I was an unknown. Micki was late and knocked on the window so I went and opened the door for her.

She smiled and giggled and thanked me -- that was Micki from the start.

Despite my own failings, she always was kind to me. 

I have a distraught sense of humor -- which is a nice way to say inappropriate. She always laughed but never took part in the unpleasant repartee. 

She was a straight good person, raised obviously by wonderful parents, who believed in being good at all times.

And she was.

Except this one time when we had to develop photos for a project in photojournalism class, which would require a good three to four hours in the dark room. We snuck in some drinks to have a good time while we waited, waited for film to soup and photos to develop. Suddenly, the journalism department chairmen showed up -- he was tightly wound and we spoke as exactly as we could. The chairman was also naive -- he could never imagine two star students liquored up in the photo lab. Well maybe one star student. It wasn't me.

We recounted that story for decades.

One of our jokes was from "History of the World Part I." In a parody of the "Tale of Two Cities," the king looks like the "piss boy," who brought a bucket around to the aristocracy to relieve themselves. Harvey Korman tells the king, Mel Brooks, that he "looks like the piss boy." Mel Brooks as King said, "Oh yeah -- you look like a bucket of shit."

Micki couldn't bring herself to say the entire phrase so for years she referred to me as "Bucket." 

One year in college, she took out an ad in The Spectator that read "Happy Birthday Bucket."

After college, there was some drifting apart and some rejoining. Every conversation, email, Facebook interaction bespoke our relationship. I would tell a shocking joke and she would giggle.

We connected via Facebook and talked by phone and exchanged emails.

She visited Hayward last fall with friend and essentially told me she was dying from cancer, her third battle with the disease. We laughed, I cried and hugged it out.

Micki called me Bucket.

Peace unto Ukraine and peace unto Micki's family and unto you my dear brothers sisters.


  1. Beautiful tribute, Rich. Micki was truly all that, and more. I did not know her nearly as well as you, but got to know her well enough while on the staff of the Periscope, and then the Spectator. We connected here and there on Facebook. She truly was a kind soul and this world has a great loss with her passing. Thank you for sharing your story. -- Charlie

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