Our dear friend, sweet neighbor, and hanai (adopted by love) Uncle Bob passed away in the early morning hours on Wednesday. I'm sure the heavenly reunion with his sweet Norma was beautiful and I know he was looking forward to being with her once more.
He and Aunt Norma were like grandparents to our boys. They stepped up and were there for our kids throughout their lives. The twins, Josh and Chris, turned 3 shortly after we moved here and Jaysn turned 5 a few months later. Our Chris and Josh just could not get enough of Uncle Bob and Aunt Norma. If I could not find them, I knew just where to look.
From Aunt Norma having us over for lunch of corndogs (my kids loved them and it was a real treat since I never bought them), to Uncle Bob telling the boys he had a job for them and then pulling out a watermelon to have them share with him, they quickly won over my boys' hearts. The twins especially learned so many things from Uncle Bob. He taught them how to hunt, took them fishing, they helped on the farm and they helped him build a pole building. He was Chris's best friend and he was the best man at Chris's wedding. Aunt Norma remarked that she had never seen Bob dressed up like that before. They both were just beaming that day as they watched Chris marry the love of his life Heather.
All our boys made it a point to visit Uncle Bob and Aunt Norma whenever they could. When Josh would come home on leave from the Air Force one of the first things he would do is go over to see his beloved Uncle Bob and Aunt Norma. As time went on, he introduced Lauren and later Tate to them. Jaysn would go and visit when he could. After he married Rachel, Rachel made sure to visit too, even when Jaysn was at work. Their son Steven loved his Uncle Bob and enjoyed going to see the cool side by side vehicle and Uncle Bob's little dog. Chris, Heather, Bradley and Isaiah were regular visitors and had a special bond with Uncle Bob and Aunt Norma. It was so wonderful to watch those precious relationships grow throughout the years.
Jeff and Bob also had a tight bond. They worked on building projects together and later, Jeff would do the building of things while Bob was there "supervising" and they had a good visit. I frequently would have Jeff disappear from our driveway and find him over with Bob helping him with something. When Norma was still alive, Jeff and I would go over and visit and help with her care. She recognized us until about a week before she died. Dementia is a cruel thief.
As for Bob and I, well we developed a really tight bond that only became stronger over the years. There was a trust there with me and he would open up about his feelings. Sharing feelings was not something he was very good at with others. When Norma got sick, we were the ones he could share his fears, frustrations and deep sadness with. We spent lots of time over there sharing fun memories with both Bob and Norma. After she passed, that bond became even tighter. Bob and I would share hugs, tears, and more memories. He shared with me how he wanted to make sure that all his grandkids and great-grandkids inherited land from him, because if a person had land, they could make it in life. He really wanted that security for them and worked hard all his life to try to make it happen. He was not a man who was the outwardly affectionate, but inside that sometimes gruff exterior, was a soft "marshmallow" who loved his family and friends dearly.
One of the things that I will always hold close to my heart is how he would always pray for our boys. He worried so much about Chris especially being a police officer. He would get teary eyed talking about his fear of something happening to Chris with all the craziness in the world. He was so proud of all the boys and was thrilled to see them get married and start families of their own. He loved having the boys bring their children over to meet him as babies and then being able to watch them grow up. It brought both him and Norma so much joy!
Our last visit with Bob was a very special one. Bob knew his time was short, and so did we. Chris, Heather and their boys came over Tuesday morning and went down to visit with him at the assisted living care center. Chris facetimed in Josh so Bob could visit with him too and see baby Peyton. They all had a really lovely time despite the fact that Bob was very weak and tired. By that evening, when Jeff and I went down to visit, Bob had rallied and had more energy. We found him in the living room area by the fireplace and looking at the Christmas tree. Jeff and I sat down for a nice visit. Bob shared some things that were again important to him, some regrets, tears, and some memories that we all cherished and brought smiles to our faces. Bob was torn between wanting to join his beloved Norma in heaven and wanting to be here to take care of unfinished business and make sure his family was all ok. He told us that he wanted to continue to fight to be here, but I knew he was not going to be long for this world. I held his hand and reassured him about things that were worrying him. I knew what the "rally" was all about because I had seen it before in others I love shortly before they passed away.
Uncle Bob passed away peacefully in his recliner in his room around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. It was only hours after our visit. His son Alan kindly came up to tell me in person later that morning. Alan and I had a good visit and I was able to reassure him about some things that had been bothering him. I am so glad that I could be there for him in his time of need. One of Bob's granddaughters and I are fairly close also. I helped her gather pictures of Bob with our boys that she wanted to include in a slideshow of Bob's life to be shown at his funeral this coming Monday. She, more than anyone else, understood the importance of those relationships, and wanted to make sure to honor her grandfather's memory with pictures of him with the boys.
Bob and Norma were our family, not by blood, but by love. We chose to be a part of each other's lives. Bob used to eagerly wait at a place in our shared driveway for the boys to get done with their homeschooling work so they could get together to work on a project, go hunting, fishing, or just visit. It is something that I would get a huge kick out seeing him just "appear" in that same spot each day around the same time, and looking over eagerly at our house. I always knew that our boys were safe with him. There were times when Bob, Chris and Josh would be wanting to go fishing and we would change our homeschooling schedule to accommodate that because I knew the value of that time and the life skills the boys would learn with Uncle Bob and Aunt Norma that Jeff and I could not give them. He would tell the boys that their daddy, my Jeff, was the hardest working man he had ever met and that he should be our boys' hero. Bob had an amazing amount of respect and love for my Jeff. Both Bob and I always emphasized that fact to the boys and it stuck. To this day, our boys look up to their father. All of them have a great respect for him and still rely on him to help them learn new things, get advice from him and they want to do things to blessed him.
So Uncle Bob, a hui hou, until we meet again. Thank you for all your love, guidance, friendship, being another grandparent to our boys and above all, the life lessons you taught our entire family. We were so blessed to have had you and Norma in our lives and there are not enough words to truly express our love and gratitude to you. Always in our hearts.
So very sorry for your families and (his families) loss. Lifting you all in prayer for happy memories and love.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much Cheryl. I really do appreciate it.Delete
What an amazing neighbor, friend and role model for your boys. You are blessed! Praying for all your family as you walk through this sorrowful time, yet rejoicing because he's now with Norma.ReplyDelete
That is what we are clinging to. He is with his beloved Norma again and I was able to reassure his son, that yes, he was "saved".Delete
What a lovely tribute to your friend and neighbor! Thank you for sharing your memories of these special people in your lives.ReplyDelete
I am so sorry for your loss. And what an amazing tribute you wrote for a very special man.SJ now in CaliforniaReplyDelete
I’m so sorry to hear this. It sounds like your neighbors were fantastic people and so special. I know you will miss him so much.ReplyDelete
Bob sounds like a great man and friend.ReplyDelete