The detective was kind, but straightforward. My brother Bob hadn’t shown up for work. His colleagues were concerned when they couldn’t reach him. Two of them went over to his place, and found he’d died in his sleep.
He was only 57.
Over the next days, I moved through the dark fog of shock and denial. How could this be? An avid traveller, he was getting ready to go to Antarctica, the trip more than any he was looking forward to. Finally, he had agreed to come visit me for a few days in the fall. He’d always had somewhere more exotic to visit, so I was touched he was able to schedule us in.
Slowly, we pieced together what happened. He’d been to work Friday, all seemed well. He’d played with his drumming group Friday night, and with another Saturday afternoon. Again, he was in good spirits and appeared to be fine.
Then he went to bed Saturday night and never woke up.
Some years ago he’d told me he had Marfan’s syndrome. “What’s that?” was my response.
He explained that people with it are usually very tall and have some heart issues. “They think Lincoln had it,” he said. Twenty years ago, Bob had heart surgery, and he was 6’4”, so he fit the profile. His manner was so matter-of-fact, so it’s-no-big-deal, I barely gave his news a second thought.
What a mistake.
I now know how Marfan’s syndrome affects all the organs in the body, and that often when a seemingly healthy person dies suddenly, the death can be traced to Marfan’s.
But that was my brother, stoic and reserved, not wanting to bother or worry people. And over the next days, as I spent time with his coworkers and drumming buddies, I gained a great appreciation for the impact he had on their lives.
He had worked for the same company for nearly thirty years, and many of his coworkers had been there for over twenty years. They talked of the nearly flawless computer programs he wrote, his patience in mentoring, his brilliance in coming up with solutions no one else had thought of.
We laughed as we shared our stories and memories of Bob, all the while knowing there is no way to replace his gentle soul. He’s left a deep void in many lives, one that will be impossible to fill.
I’m grateful for the years we did share, that he seized the opportunity to follow his passions. He travelled around the world, camera at the ready. On his return, he shared his adventures through the pictures he took, letting the rest of us see what he saw.
For me, Bob’s death is a wake up call, to not put off spending time with the people who are important. Because one day they won’t be there.
Farewell, dear brother. You are deeply missed.
8 thoughts on “Farewell, Gentle Soul”
Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob, wherever you may be. We miss you very much – each day.
Thank you for this blog Evelyn.
With love – Eva, one of the 20-year co-workers you have mentioned here
Thank you, Eva.
What a nice tribute to Bob. Thanks for writing this. We miss him deeply.
Thanks, Ellen. He will be missed for a long time.
I just got back from my vacation and saw the e-mail with this link. Thank you, Evelyn, for a touching tribute to Bob. He was truly a gentle soul. He was one of the few people I worked with when I started with this company 30 years ago. He was always so very kind to me but what I remembered the most about him was his patience and willingness to help me over the years with a myriad of problems and questions. He never lost patience with me even if I asked him a “dumb” question and I will be forever grateful to him for his help and kindness. I was so looking forward to celebrating the 30th anniversary with Bob.
My travel last week took me to the Big Bend National Park in Texas. I don’t know if Bob had ever visited the park, but I thought of him often last week when I was there. It is a magnificent park. I’m sure Bob would have appreciated its beauty and history. We may not be able to see Bob anymore, but his humanity will forever be in our hearts.
Rest in peace, Bob. We will miss you.
Thank you, Bill. I don’t think I’ll ever travel again without thinking of how much my brother would have enjoyed the trip.
What an amazing tribute to a gentle giant! I met Bob through work – ATS/Salient supported our computer requirements for FHA. Initially, it took some time for him to open up but once he did, WOW! Bob celebrated life – he was true to who he was – and as you stated, he loved traveling. Bob shared his pictures from his journeys and they took you away to that place. Bob and I had a standing joke about owing money for work – he’d chuckle and play along. I truly miss Bob but know that he is here in spirit. May God continue to watch over your family as you navigate this unexpected path.
Thank you, Joanne, for your kind words. God has been faithful through this whole time.