I thought it an odd thing to say.
He had just learned he had less than a month to live, and he was concerned about putting me at ease. It was so like him.
The next month was a blur, and memory being a fickle thing, I can only recall those things I recall. Why is that? Why can’t we remember everything? Why do we only remember bits and pieces of moments and words?
I posted the truth on the blog, as I had been doing for the past year since his surgery. The followers counted on my honest truth. I didn't pull any punches. “Don’t come to me at the funeral and tell me what a wonderful man Bob was. Tell him now. Those are his words to hear.”
And so they did. They drove, flew, wrote, called…we had a white board with a schedule of visitors. It was more than I dared hope. It was exhausting and energizing all at the same time.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard “I came to encourage him, but somehow he encouraged me.”
Character is revealed in the worst of times. Truly. Want to know who you really are? Then deal with a disease. Deal with a deadly diagnosis.
He took control of the only thing he had the ability to control – his departure. He planned the funeral, down to each song. He politely asked the choir if any were able he would appreciate them being there to sing. Over 150 choir members came to sing him home. He went with me to select the casket and the thank you notes. I remember him pointing to the oak casket and asking me if I liked it. How do you answer such a question?
I later found a note he wrote. “I’m giddy at the thought of meeting God.” His faith was unshakable. Even as the ground beneath his feet shifted, he stood strong.
Sam said it best as he stood in full military dress at the funeral. His father lay in similar dress, quiet and still just a few feet away.
“My father taught me how to live….and he showed me how to die.”
And that was his legacy. IS his legacy. That he loved others more than he loved himself, enough to teach a final lesson, when he had absolutely nothing to gain.
Those words echo in my mind. You’ll be okay, he meant. More than okay. “You will blossom.”
His final gift to me.
I’m trying, Bob. I’m trying.