Thursday, March 20, 2008

Big Bob

My mom isn't the only one in this family whose many expressions have been passed on. Mr.4444's dad, Bob (see photo from earlier this week) was also known for many of his own:

"Holy Schmudpuckers!"

If you made a mistake on something you were making or got a stain on your shirt, he'd offer, "Don't worry. A guy going by on a motorcycle would never even notice."

If you asked, "How are you?" he'd reply, "I'm better than nuthin!"

"Lord, love a duck!" (Don't ask me what this means; he'd just say it when he was bored.)

If you made a suggestion for what to do or where to go that night, he'd say, "Whatever turns you on tickles the shit out of me!" (Obviously, he was pretty easy going.)

After a wonderful meal or a terrific day, he'd settle back and say, "Lord, I wonder what the poor people are doing."

"Luv ya." (He was known for giving big hugs, too.)

Pulling out of the driveway with the grandkids in the car, he'd say, "We're off, like a turd of hurdles!"

When the kids arrived to the house, he'd say, "Oh, good; you're here! Run out to the garage and see the baby elephant!" The first time he said it, they looked, of course. "Aw, shoot!" he'd say. "You could have gone for a ride. Don't worry; he'll come back." After the first time, they just said, "Yeah, right, Grandpa," but he would always try. He also offered a pregnancy as the explanation for his huge belly. Sitting in his lap, the kids would poke it and playfully give it a punch, and he would cry out, "Don't! You'll hurt the baby!" (This became a ritual for them.)

I've told you bits and pieces about the kind of Grandpa that Bob was; how he was incredibly handy and made wonderful wooden toys and furniture in his spare time, how he spent hours with Kyle in his workshop, letting him tinker and showing him his many treasures (he was a pack-rat). I didn't tell you that he was a friend to everyone who ever met him. He was known as Bob, but many called him, "Big" Bob, which I assumed referred to the fact that Mark has a brother named Bob, Bob Jr. To me, he was a wonderful father-in-law.

Bob very often told me what a wonderful wife and mother I was, and he was proud of Mark's fathering. He told me that my patience was a gift. He praised me on my efforts in the kitchen and assured me I was developing into "quite a cook." (He loved my cheesecakes!) Coming from Bob, that was a huge compliment, because he himself was a phenomenal cook. I suspect that his praise was designed to instill confidence in me (I've had a few flops), but that was okay with me. He was always full of encouragement.

Bob also spoke frequently of his pride in his "Grandbrats." He could not get over Kyle and Kendall's energy, enthusiasm, and intelligence. He gave me the credit for their academic strengths (because of how I cultivated a love of books in them).

I can still picture Bob the night before he passed away, unexpectedly. We had had dinner at the 4444 house; he had made his famous Filet of Beef Moutarde Forestiere. (He always sauteed extra mushrooms, because he knew I loved them and would try to steal some. He'd pretend to be mad when I grabbed a couple, but I know he loved it and would have been disappointed had I not.) I remember thinking as I watched him in the kitchen that night, "I sure am glad I have a copy of this recipe. If he died today, I'd never remember how to do all of this!"

After dinner Grandpa sat in his chair, talking up the kids about how smart and good they were. The last thing he said to me that night was, "I love you."

Don't get me wrong; Bob wasn't perfect. He occasionally pissed me off, frankly. He sometimes let Jack Daniels do his talking, and I don't know if you've ever met Jack, but he's not all that tactful. Bob was also generous to a fault, which was nice and all, but I did say "to a fault" for a reason. Mostly, however, he was a loving, incredibly thoughtful man who would give you the shirt off his back and sincerely offer you the rest of his closet, if you needed it.

Bob passed away five years ago last month; six weeks after his mom, Grandma Florence. He was 65. I'm so glad we had moved back to this area in time for the kids to get to know their Grandpa before he passed away eight years later. Kendall doesn't remember him a lot. Kyle remembers more. However, they are who they are today, in part, due to the love and attention he showered upon them. My husband has his father's greatest parenting qualities. I have a few of his recipes. I also have his deep, abiding love. He's not gone; he's probably off riding that baby elephant somewhere.


  1. I'm not sure if it's the cold meds I'm taking, or just your beautiful story. I got weepy-eyed (and I so don't cry).

    Your story brings back memories of my own Papa Rainer, even after being gone for 35 years (he died when I was 5), I still miss him and love him dearly.

    It also drove home the loss of my own father-in-law. He died a few years before I met my husband, but I feel that I know him from many of the wonderful stories that I have heard. He would have also been a fabulous father-in-law.

    You are very lucky to have had him in your life.


  2. Awesome recollections of Bob! Thanks for taking the time to share them... :)


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