Tuesday, April 29, 2008
For the longest time as I grew up I believed that everyone has an "Uncle Bob". Robert is a fairly common name....and nearly all my friends had someone in their family who they referred to as their "Uncle Bob".
My Uncle Bob passed away yeseterday, Monday, April 28.
Even though it seemed everyone I knew had (or has) an Uncle Bob, mine was special because he was....well, mine.
This is a photo of me and him taken in 1969 when I was three years old and he was 21 or 22 yrs. old. He served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army.....I think this is a photo of him after graduating from boot camp, ready to deploy to the war in Vietnam. He was just a kid, as were so many who went. In this photo I can see that my cousin looks an awful lot like his dad.
My Uncle Bob loved cars. He built his own hot rod from the ground up. He liked to fish. He liked playing games. He liked going for rides. He took me to my first demolition derby at the Monona County Fairgrounds. I always pictured him as a sort of James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause type guy.
Once our family went camping with both my uncles and their families. I remember we went to a local amusement park for entertainment one day. Somehow my Uncle Bob talked me into going on the rollercoaster with him. It was great! Scary, but exhilerating! Then we went on a ride called "The Flying Bobs". The seats were shaped like bob sleds which went up and down slight hills as they went around and around.
Being the kid prone to car sickness, this was not the best choice. I managed to hold my own (and the contents of my stomach) out of sheer concentration and will power for part of the ride. But then they kicked the thing into reverse.
Not even Uncle Bob had been counting on that.
We all came off that ride sicker than dogs (whatever that means!) While I was nauseous and had to sit down, Uncle Bob was out for the count. He was green. I think he even threw up. He had to lay down on the ground, then in the back of our station wagon. I remember the rest of the day being pretty slow-paced. Even a game of horseshoes at the campground might have been too much.
He and my Aunt Pat started their family a bit later in life. They have one son, Jim who has a 2 year old and another on the way. My Uncle enjoyed being a dad and was thrilled about being a grandparent. (He always lit up when there were young ones around to tease.) He had that certain twinkle in his eye.
These past few years he had many health concerns. Some of it was diabetes. Some related perhaps to Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. He had been on dialysis too.
He was only 60 years old.
We'll miss you Uncle Bob!