A Tribute to a Sweet Old Man.

I’ve been wondering if I would keep writing to this blog – well I think I found a reason to.

Last Saturday (7/23/22), an old neighbor of mine passed away. His name is Bob. Luyang and I always refer to him as “Neighbor Bob”. When visiting my parents we would always be sure to stop by and say “hi”, and get a story, or two, or three, or four – hours. Life always moved a bit slower at Bob’s house. Not just because he himself moved slow, but because his stories would stop the clock, and take you back in time. When you caught a whiff of his sweet pipe, we knew he was home. We knew we were home.

He was always busy; picking up leaves, mowing the lawn for the 4th time that week, resting in the garage, driving (slowly) to lunch or the local compost dump. Despite his busyness, it was always a “slow” busy. At 90 years old and what seemed like as many feet tall, Bob never moved too fast at whatever he did, except offering a story to tell; his days in the construction industry, the farm he grew up on, the deer and other critters eating his flowers. He’d always ask me “how’s your truck runnin’?” (we had similar trucks), “how many miles you got on it?”, and then update me on what his sons have been up to in a similar vein.

When he had a stroke just a few months ago, it became quickly obvious that it was the beginning of the end for Neighbor Bob. Friends would joke that this man would never die. 90 years old and still keeping the yard pristine, despite all the pains of old age. I am at home a lot, as I can do a lot of my work from home, but I’m also home to be the house husband. Despite all the time I spend outside, the yard will never match the perfection that was Bob’s yard.

Bob and his wife Ruth moved in sometime when I was in high school, and it wasn’t long after that Ruth passed away. It was a very snowy day when she was taken to the hospital. I don’t remember much of her besides her cute lisp, and her complimentary sweetness and gentleness to Bob. I hear Bob kept up his yard so well as testament and love for his late wife. Bob never seemed lonely to me, but he obviously missed Ruth.

We were able to visit Bob just a few weeks ago at the nursing home. It was a sad moment for us, but we were fortunate, in a way, be able to say a goodbye of sorts.

There’s a song that always makes me think of Bob. “I Believe”, sung by the duo “Brooks and Dunn”. (https://youtu.be/X5z-jjWyAJQ) As I sit here writing, I’m taking another listen to this song, and for the first time, watching the music video. I can put myself in the shoes of the boy in the video. I don’t know what Bob believed, but as the song says:

“If there was anybody
that deserved a ticket to the other side,
it’d be that sweet old man
that looked me in the eye…”

Today is his funeral. May he again be reunited with Ruth in life everlasting. Thank you for the stories. Requiescat in pace.

As for me, I’m doing OK. Bob’s memory is a reminder to me that I need to take life a little bit more slow. I’ve been sore and having pains here there and everywhere. I’m realizing how much I’ve lost from treatments, and how much more there is to rebuild. On the days I feel really good, I often overdo it, and am wiped out for a few days.

On a lighter note, my depleted by the radiation is growing back quite well, and quite differently. It’s very obvious on my beard where the hair is growing back a different way, color, and density. Oh well, this will be my new look!

I continue to improve from week to week. “It may take a year or more” to get back to normal is really making sense now.

Thank you for reading!

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