debboamerik: black-and-white cat (Default)
[personal profile] debboamerik
Today was my uncle's funeral. I attended noon Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral, where John F. Kennedy's funeral Mass was held. In the meantime, in Los Angeles, my family was holding their funeral service.

I met Bob shortly after his third birthday. I'm told he was extremely proud of me
back then. I don't remember that. But I do remember always looking up to Bobby,
and not just because he got to do everything first!
In fact you could not have asked for two more different kids.
Bob was tanned and tall. I'm untannable, and not tall.
Bob was athletic. Bobby organized the neighborhood baseball games at our house
on Artcurus, on what I now know to be a ridiculously small front lawn. Pretty much
every game then featured at least one broken garage window. Later it was baseball
and football in the street on Wilkie Avenue, and basketball in our driveway.
Bob was scholarly, disciplined and focused; I'm easily distracted. While Bob played
sports; I was in plays. Bob collected coins; I had matchbox cars. Bob loved math;
my nemesis.
I always looked up to Bob, even though he was sometimes a bit of a goof. I
remember racing bikes down our street with Bob, and he slowed down to impress a
couple of girls...which allowed me to catch up with him just as he rode into the back
of a parked car. (A similar trait would later earn him the nickname "dusty.")
Years later we'd discover multiple similarities. We share the same problems with our
knees, and we were both born minus one kidney. We both met our wives at
volleyball games at LMU, games Bob called "jungleball" due to the "just get it over
the net" style of playing. And we both can make the most of a phone call...taking
Bob's calls whether from the office or the road back from Visalia was always
enjoyable, but never quick. And those conversations were often funny, Bob loved
the running gag, whether about the Dodgers or how old I was, but he also had a fine
sense of the absurdity of many things other people take seriously.
Bob and I were brothers, but not friends. We didn't see each other often, we didn't
go to casinos or cruises or concerts together (though he did take me to my first
concert: Crosby Stills Nash & Young at the Forum), we traveled our different roads.
Over the years we spoke far more often on the phone than we did in person. But in
a very real way Bob was an anchor for me. You know, on a boat most of the time
the anchor sits quietly in a locker at the bow, but when you need it nothing else will
do, and it prevents calamity by holding you steady. Bob was an anchor for me, and
for many others as well.
And Bob was that anchor because he was a man of great heart and simple needs.
It's easy to poke fun at that latter trait. Bobby lived a simple life, more simple than
others in his tax bracket. He may have had the last rotary phone in California, his
second and third cars are still parked at his home (the first one would be there, but it
burned), and the office typewriter generated more statements and mail than his
But his simplicity enabled Bobby to be more generous. He was generous with his
money, with his time and with his talents. To my knowledge he never turned down
the opportunity to help anyone.
I know that in my own life; and in recent weeks we've heard from cousins, coworkers,
clients, friends and acquaintances who just wanted to make sure Bob knew
how much he'd helped them. "He'll know what I mean" was a common refrain. Bob's
generosity followed the advice from the Gospel of Matthew: don't let your left hand
know what your right hand is doing. (So while Bob and you know what you mean,
no-one else will unless you tell them.)
Bob was also generous with his forgiveness. In one of our talks recently he told me
that he just didn't seem to have the gene to hold grudges...I assume it went missing
with his other kidney. Many people here never saw Bob angry, and those who did
know that it passed like a summer shower. Being merciful was part of his attitude
towards life.
Bob was faithful. Once he committed, he committed completely. Not just in his
marriage, but in his friendships, in his business, in his generosity, in his mercy. We
see this faithfulness in his 38 year support of the Sisters of Charity of Rolling Hills,
his 34 years of service to the kids and staff at Maria Regina School, his 33 years of
marriage to Eileen, and his years of friendship with nearly every person in this chapel
today. Bob often took on commitments that no-one else wanted, and faithfully
carried through on his commitments even during his last days.
And Bob loved both broadly and deeply. There wasn't a person who came into
contact with Bob who did not know that they were dealing with a kind and caring
man. Whether he worked for you or you worked for him, whether he took care of
you or you took care of him. And anyone who witnessed the love Bob has for Eileen
could not help but be inspired. I was humbled to be allowed to witness that love
over the past month, humbled to the point of silence...which is saying a lot.
That's the essence of my brother Bob. Simple. Generous. Merciful. Faithful.
Loving. Bobby was a blessing to each of us.
I will miss Bob's phone calls. I'll miss busting his chops and having him bust mine.
I'll miss his advice and his humor.
But I'll always look up to him.
Eternal Memory, Bob.
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January 2011

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