Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bye-bye, Bob Bob

We said good-bye to a gentle giant today - my father-in-law - known affectionately as Bob Bob by his grandchildren (and me, his only daughter-in-law). I had the honor of writing his obituary. We were being charged by the word, and though he’d probably admonish me for going over my budget, it still wasn’t enough.

Bob Bob was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He was quick-witted and liked to tease. If he teased you, he liked you, and you could tell it immediately by the mischievous look in his kind eyes.

After my husband and I were married, and I was pregnant with my daughter, whom I just knew would be a boy (I even decorated the nursery in blue. My first lesson in mother’s intuition), Bob Bob informed me that 12 lb. babies ran in their family. And even though his mom was my size (5’2ish and petite), she managed to have five boys on their Kentucky farm all weighing over 12 lbs. Bob Bob would surpass his older brother and father by nearly a foot, eventually reaching 6’7.”

I guess I could have laughed this comment off, but my daughter had her foot planted squarely in my ribs. Not only could I feel how large it was; I could see it. Each night, I’d trace the perfect outline of a baby’s foot – a foot that I had no doubt belonged to a 12 lb. baby.

Bob Bob enjoyed teasing me about it mightily. In the end? I had a long, skinny little baby girl weighing 7 lbs. 8 oz. with the largest feet you’ve ever seen. In fact, she’s still trying to grow into them. If she follows in her grandfather, great-uncles and cousins’ footsteps, there’s no doubt she will.

I am quickly becoming the shortest in the family as height does not run on my side. In fact, I’ll never forget the first time my dad met Bob Bob at my daughter’s cowboy and Indian-themed birthday party. Bob was sitting in a chair, and my dad (5’8 ¾) walked up, stuck out his hand and introduced himself. Bob Bob stood up and extended his hand, and my dad almost got whiplash looking up. It was a priceless moment. They soon put on their cowboy hats and bonded over ice cream and cake and grandchildren.

Speaking of grandchildren, Bob Bob loved his dearly, and it was mutual. My daughter, in particular, spent many hours sitting his lap. She was his girl. When my son came along, we quickly realized he had inherited a bit of his grandfather’s good-natured personality and wit. There’s been many a time I’ve heard Bob Bob tease him about something and witnessed my son’s innocently funny response leave him shaking with laughter, often to the point of tears.

I sat next to my son today and felt him shake with tears, too. This time they were tears over the loss of his dear Bob Bob, the one who kept him supplied with nutty-buddy ice creams, the one who let him punch him as hard as he could, the one who encouraged him to ask his mama impossible questions just to tease her.

Though we were sad, there were many moments Bob Bob would have loved, including the one when my son, all on his own, went over and peered into the casket. He came back and pulled me over to look as I fretted over what his reaction would be.

“They put a suit on him!” he said, shocked.

At this remark, I’m sure Bob Bob - in heaven, shirtless in his swim trunks, the way we remember him from so many times at the beach and the lake - was shaking silently with laughter.

(We love you, Bob Bob. May you rest in peace.)


Angela McRae said...

Simply beautiful, Leigh!

Janet Flanigan said...

So sweet, Leigh. It is so nice to love our in-laws. I tried to link our pages but I'm not sure it worked. Do you know how? Keep up the good writing.