marching on: editor's note—aimee suzanne kruse-ross—march 2020
My first tentative steps in the outside world after losing my husband and our founding editor, Andrew Kruse-Ross, was to our local library for a couple of books I had not read since college. That day, the snow fell beautifully onto red crab apple trees while the wet black trunks stood sentry as I came up the walk. Along the wrought iron fence were plastic zip-bags containing colorful hats, scarves, mittens and the like—unconditional compassion for the unknown.
In that moment, I was reminded of the character, Beth, in Louisa May Alcott's “Little Women." I relived the scene in the novel where Beth was a constant champion for the well-being of others.
“The feeble fingers were never idle, and one of her pleasures was to make little things for the school children daily passing to and fro, to drop a pair of mittens from her window for a pair of purple hands."
Inspired by Beth's thoughtfulness and kindness to others, it was then and there, at 10 years old, that she became my hero. From that point onward, I modeled myself after her because I wanted the world to experience that same kindness.
First, please let me say thank you to each and every one of you for your compassion last month as we pulled together to get the February issue out and on shelves. I have a daunting task ahead as I try to adjust my dreams with what has now become my reality. I do not expect to recover quickly from this, nor do I want to, but one thing I can say is that you've all made my life significantly easier with your kindness and compassion.
Since reflecting on the passing of Andrew, I'd like to share what I feel it means to live, work, play, love, care and grieve in Green Bay.
These past eight weeks, I've made stops around town to all of Andrew's fondest people—they were numerous. Everywhere I went the owners of these businesses were compassionate with their tears, hugs and boxes of tissues. No one wants to feel so exposed in such a newly widowed environment. Those at Prophit Marketing, Little Tokyo, Lloyd's Guitars, Exclusive Company, Rock N' Roll Land, the post office, the library, restaurants and shops that Andrew and I frequented weekly all made eye contact with me the moment I stepped foot into their establishments. They saw all too quickly that I was a lost soul and yet, each and every one approached me directly, looked into my eyes with their own filled with tears, and expressed just how much they cared about the loss that we all share.
Andrew and I worked, lived, played, dined, and enjoyed life together in Green Bay—we were rarely separated. If either of us found ourselves apart for an afternoon or the like, we were kind and generous to all we encountered. That kindness has now come back to us in numerous ways.
At the crux of what Andrew wanted for his life and for Frankly Green Bay was enjoyment. In 2018, we both decided that we had spent an enormous amount of time taking work and academia a bit too seriously. It was time to start letting loose, so to speak, to enjoy our lives a bit more. This was a bit of a challenge for us—remember, all work and no play makes Jack—but with tentative steps, we learned. We ate at that fancy Italian restaurant, we bought that amazing licorice from Italy, we went and enjoyed that show at the Meyer. We were fiscally responsible, yes, but allowed ourselves to enjoy life a bit more.
We enjoyed it more because we were mindful of how that enjoyment came about, and that, my fine folks, is how a well-lived life is. How grateful I am now that we made those decisions, but how much more tragic the outcome had Andrew not taken the steps when and where he did.
Each time you go to work, and get that paycheck cashed, take some time to reflect on what you've just accomplished, regardless of how small you feel that accomplishment is. You are worth far more than you feel. Appreciate every dollar you save; appreciate every dollar you spend, all while you keep mindful of your own enjoyment.
Frank Hermans had the fortitude to film a final segment of Frankly Green Bay a mere 12 days before my husband passed away. Andrew passionately told viewers how he viewed his life's work and what he felt it contributed to the overall well-being and happiness of what it means to be a resident of Green Bay.
“People don't really realize how good we've really got it. There's a 'bumper-sticker' sort of thing going on where 'print is going out … ' but niche papers are doing great and that's what we are. Green Bay doesn't realize how good we've got it. We have the big things going on, for a town of this size and the amount of things that there are to enjoy here, it's amazing.
As I began to formulate on this month's Editor's Note, I initially wanted to honor and thank Green Bay for its kindness. In a serendipitous turn of events, my publisher handed me a story along with photos of a young man whose life is being forged and shaped right here in this city.
The 'ah-ha' moment came when I realized that Green Bay is wonderful, yes, but it's the people who make it such. And so this month we pay tribute to a young Wolfgang Vetter, a clarinet player whose hard work, dedication and passion for music is evident. He's been growing up right under our noses and not only matured into a fine young adult, but flourished. Wolfgang has made his life's work his passion and has been mindful ever since that decision became part of his soul. He makes the choices that are authentic and satisfying to his overall life's compass, and we could certainly all learn something from this mature, amazingly talented and gifted soul.
Each month when you pick up an issue of Frankly, we know you're looking for enjoyment, a respite. And each month that you enjoy something that directly relates to the content in this magazine, you're not only supporting your own happiness and well-being, but you're also supporting the very reason Andrew was passionate about Green Bay in the first place.
Let's march onward together, shall we?