Two weeks ago, our dear friend Bob (also known as Bullet Bob or Burnout Bob) passed away, finishing his battle with multiple myeloma. You may recall hearing about our sweet neighbor several weeks ago, when I shared the story of his bond with our sweet Daisy dog. It has been about two months since then, but it feels like an eternity at times.
So let’s talk a little about him. Morgan and Bob met about twenty years ago, when my young husband found himself stuck in the mud, and his new neighbor came to pull him out. Over the last couple of decades, they have maintained the same give and take relationship. Bob knew to never hesitate to call on us with anything, and we knew the same. For us, he was much more than a neighbor. He was our village. At times our isolated little road can feel like an island (and sometimes it is), but there was always a comfort in knowing that he was right next door.
A perfect example was during our flood last year. Knowing good and well that neither of our houses would go under water, we didn’t feel the need to evacuate when the waters began rising. What we didn’t account for was our water tank. On the day when we had to begin boating to leave our house, the water crested at the highest it has been in over fifty years. That same day, our water tank floated and snapped the pipe, leaving flood water free flowing into our well casing.
At this point, we not only had to worry about our own well being, but also that of a goat, two cows, two fawns, three cats, four dogs, four pigs, and sixty something chickens. None of which we could provide fresh water for, and with no way to bring a trailer in to get them out. Have you ever tried to put a cow on a little johnboat? Me neither, but it doesn’t sound fun.
Enter Bob. Because we were the only two houses able to stick out high water, we were in constant communication with one another. When he heard of our water woes (ironic being surrounded by the very thing you’re lacking), he instantly offered for us to tap into his well and share his water supply. So Morgan and Marshall waded out to string 300 ft of zip line wire (that we just had lying around) through the trees, in order to support the water hose(s) carrying our life line. For over a month, he put up with having to schedule chores and showers with our family to keep water pressure. Such a selfless gift in such a dire time of need. That quality repeated itself throughout his entire life.
Let me just state this, for the record. I have never known a person with as many friends as what he had. And good friends. Definitely not acquaintances. Every weekend, there was at least one friend from some corner of the country, coming to spend time working and helping him out. His role in each of their lives varied greatly, but all of their stories sounded like ours. Bob was always caring, always willing, and always interested. I don’t think his reliability was what drew people to him like flies. It was deeper than that. He had a genuine desire to know about your life, and to connect with you on a personal level. Whether it was with a relative, an old fling, a racing buddy, a mentor, or a coworker, he made an impact.
It has taken everything I have to keep this from being a boo hoo filled post, because I really and truly miss my friend. But it would be such a shame to leave a last word of sadness when there are so many wonderful things to discuss. I considered not saying anything at all, but he has always been such a huge part of our daily lives. His absence is noticed continuously, and it felt wrong to keep it all hidden.
Getting used to our new reality has been an adjustment in more ways than either of us realized, but there is also a comfort. For, it is only our selfishness that brings us heartache. Bob accomplished more living in his sixty-one years than most people dream of, never allowing anything to slow him down. He no longer has to fight against his own body, his own blood having betrayed him. Yes, we miss him, and state it to one another quite often. But in a horribly confusing way, we are relieved as well. He gave it all he had, and was ready to finish his final race.