Goodbye Bob

August has been a busy and cruel month. We suddenly got quite busy again in work, almost from the turn of the month. We even had a dreaded visit Up North, which myself and J did together. It caused the usual farce of the office being looked after by our assistant and we returned to stupid problems and millions of rubbish phone calls to return. So much so that I ignored many of them on the presumption that if it was important they would call…

But just before we went away we got news that one of my longest standing customers was very ill and might not make it. Had timing been different I would have gone to see him, but within a day or two he was dead. He has been ill for years, too much drink because of chronic back pain. I saw him at the end of June, and he really wasn’t well then. But at least I saw him and had a laugh.

He was quite a character. I first met him when he called me out to his house to fix the computer of his elderly father. His father is still alive today at the grand old age of 98. In fact, I went to celebrate his birthday at the start of the month. He was a gruff up Northerner, but with a heart of gold. Over many years of fixing and helping them out, he quickly became more than just a customer but a friend too. I got to know his wife and his dad very well. They would always offer tea, coffee, food, chocolate cakes… and had so many parties over the years for birthdays that J referred to him as B(ob)BQ. Happily, Bob took J under his wing as well.

Sadly as alcoholism took hold, he lost control, and when you went to visit you never knew which Bob you’d get. The happy functional drunk. The depressed non-functional drunk. The pain-inflicted sobriety because he’d run out. He had been wishing to die for at least three years, hoping that at long last he’d be out of his pain. We told him he had to keep going for his dad and his wife. Though he wasn’t much use to them any more, he did need something to live for.

In the end it was too much. I’m glad we saw him earlier this year, and I’m glad he’s not in pain any more. It was horrible to watch someone go from being a little overweight to like a bone. There was nothing left of him in the end.

I will remember him from happier times, including staying at his house overnight after watching a couple of films. Thanks to Bob I finally did see Fargo. He forced me to at least be a little bit sociable at times, way more than normal, and in spite of the fact that the people at his BBQs were never particularly people I wanted to mix with. I have many memories, and I hope I can cling onto them.

Today was Bob’s funeral. We both went, and attended the little gathering afterwards. It was very sad, mainly for seeing his wife who was very sad (she had always been very strong) and the nice tributes at the service. We stayed for a bit at the gathering, but as it was mostly family it all felt a bit awkward in the end, so we made our excuses (we had to have our assistant in again) and left after an hour or so.

I had to be there. I had to pay tribute to him. It made me sad, and once again reminded me of getting old, a subject I am never far from thinking about. But that’s life. There’ll be many, many more of these over the coming years.

All the best to you Bob, and thanks for the good times.

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