I’m asking for help from my siblings on this one. But I will get the ball rolling. Today, July 28, 2017 would have been Robert’s 73rd birthday. Almost exactly ten years older than I am. And in a few days, my brother John will have a birthday as well on August 2. I only bring that up because of stories I’ve heard about the two competing on who could give the other the most extraordinary birthday present. I can only remember one but in involved a call to Robert and said, your and your woman be home at 10:00. Dress comfortable. A little after that time, a limousine showed up, with a picnic basket full of delightful food and a bottle of wine, glasses, etc.
We are a family of story tellers. And there are some doozies out there. any one of his siblings could talk for hours, if allowed about the talents that Robert developed over the years, his curiosity, his courage, and love for his family, both siblings as well as his own family, including three of the finest men you would ever find anywhere. They are grown now,all graduated from college, two are married, and one expecting his second child. Robert loved, encouraged and supported these boys in all the best ways.
I don’t know how Robert became so wise so young. Maybe it was the fact that he was an English major, and along the way, studied philosophy. Stoic is a term that fits him. He had every right to be outraged but I never saw him lose it. I never saw or even heard of a time when he verbally or physically hurt anyone. Many men resort to intimidation or humiliation, in dealing with others. Not him, not that I know of. Despite his strong left leaning beliefs and political views, he never got ugly or berated a right wing peer, of which there were many at the Ohio Veteran’s Home where he spent the last few years of his life.
I lived with him, as did other siblings at various times in our adult lives, and I’ve made my mistakes, sometimes at his expense. Once giving the okay to monogram bath towels he was buying for everyone for Christmas. They were great towels but the monogram added a huge cost to the bill, that he was not up for. Belk’s called and I assumed incorrectly he would want to monogram. A nice big “T” I suspect. He got the bill, and I heard in the other room “Jesus Christ!!! Richard, come here.” After the initial jolt to his pocketbook, he calmed down, and like so many other times, accepted it, and moved on. The list is long of events that within a short period of time, a temporary crisis was resolved with an attitude of acceptance.
The most obvious example of Robert’s stoicism is his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and the years of decline until his early death at age 68. After his divorce, he lived alone, in an apartment near his office, where he created dynamic resumes. He would schedule transportation, roll down in his wheelchair, and make his way there. He would rave about how lucky he was in so many ways, and raved about the public transportation he could access. I remember his words, even in the Ohio Veterans’ Home, he contemplated his fate, half joking, about living out his days under a bridge, but instead, was so fortunate to to live at the VA home.
Even at the VA home, he continued to write resumes for his clients, and served on the board, representing other patients. He was loved by the care givers, and he showed his appreciation often, even creating a video for you-tube honoring those that took care of the clients. Appreciate, grateful, lucky. These were all words he used often to describe himself.
I invite my family and Robert’s friends to share your stories, short or long about Robert. I’ll compile them and make sure they are shared with those that loved him. It is important for his children and grandchildren to know what a fine man Robert was. We are who we are thanks to the influence of those that came before. What a gift it may be to more deeply understand the powerful influence that Robert had.