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Thanks, Bob


I was going to see an old friend of mine this morning, but last night his wife phoned me to say he had died.

Bob’s death was a long time coming, he had been attacked by a virus which reduced his body to a wreck, but left his brain as sharp as ever. Imagine being in a prison like that.

I knew him since we were teenagers in the 70s. I always thought he was like Ritchie in Happy Days. Ritchie with a very dry sense of humour and an ability to neck a pint in one easy go. He was best mates with my boyfriend and we all hung out together. We went to see the first Star Wars film together, and laughed all the way home on the bus to his student house in Acocks Green listening to some bloke in a Brummie accent giving a low down of the plot. I can’t write it down. It doesn’t work on paper, 40 years later.

We all went to America together too, in 1980 on a Freddie Laker bargain flight. Bob nearly fell down the Grand Canyon and then got taken in hand by some weird Californian girl on a greyhound bus, whose entire luggage was a child’s travelling cot, and who kept announcing she was going to get pregnant by artificial insemination. And I remember on some plane trip during that journey, when all the other passengers were either chucking up in sick bags or looking with fierce concentration out of the window, because the turbulence was something terrible, Bob teaching me how to sing Paddy McGinty’s Goat. I wrote down the words. I must go and look for them.

And then of course, we grew up, and Bob found Eve (or rather, she found him, lucky boy) and they got married and they had two kids, and lived very happily, and I heard from them at Christmases.

A few years ago, Bob came to see me, right out of the blue. He was staggering slightly, but it was nothing serious, it was a hangover from him getting pneumonia and he’d be as right as ninepence in a few months.

He didn’t get better. He just got worse. Eve and their sons had to watch him being taken away from them piece by piece. They had to struggle with incompetent bureaucratic twits to get the help they needed, and finally he had to go into a nursing home. I visited him, not a quarter as often as I should have done, and it didn’t matter that he couldn’t speak any more, we could still communicate; we still, unbelievably, had a laugh.

I’ve been meaning to see him for the last few months, but, I suppose, I was too scared to go. I didn’t want to see what new low he’d been brought to. But Eve said he was getting worse, so I arranged to see him today.

And it’s too late. He’s gone. And all the jokes we shared are gone too. So, here’s to you, Bob. It was really, really nice knowing you. And I’ve still got the dog biscuit you gave me for my 18th birthday.

There is one more thing I want to say. If I am ever incapable of looking after myself, or standing up for my rights, I want Eve in my corner. She is one strong woman. She didn’t just stick with Bob all the way through those nightmare last years, she fought for him every single inch of the way. She didn’t shout, she didn’t threaten, but by God, she made sure Bob got the best care that could possibly be got. They loved each other to the very last second. They still love each other. And that’s something no stupid virus can take away.

About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


23 thoughts on “Thanks, Bob

  1. Very sad. For what you say, though, he had a good life and was well loved. And what else can we aspire to…Maybe a friend to write a post about us like this on our passing. Thanks for sharing Elaine.

    Posted by olganm | August 23, 2014, 10:34 pm
    • Thanks, Olga. I think it was the slow paralysis of such a lively guy that really got me. He had such a keen wit, and yet for the last year or so, he couldn’t really communicate.

      Posted by elainecanham | August 23, 2014, 10:42 pm
  2. Bittersweet memories, beautifully expressed. How very sad it feels when someone dies too young. My sympathies to you and all who knew your friend Bob.

    Posted by Jools | August 12, 2014, 9:56 am
  3. So sorry for your loss- he sounded like a lovely friend!

    Posted by Invisible Ink | August 12, 2014, 1:00 am
  4. I am so sorry to hear this sad news about Bob, I never net him, but Sandy told me stories about you all, and
    What great friends you were. Sandy’ sand my condolences to Eve and family, and to you yo, as I know how much you cared for them. xx

    Posted by Dee Scott | August 11, 2014, 11:41 pm
  5. I’m so sorry Elaine. That’s all I’ve got, there just aren’t words to express the empathy I feel for your loss.

    Posted by naptimethoughts | August 11, 2014, 4:36 pm
    • never mind, it’s not me that really needs the good thoughts, its his family. But thanks.

      Posted by elainecanham | August 11, 2014, 5:44 pm
    • sorry, ntt, I think I sounded a bit snarly there. I’m not. I just feel a bit of a fraud getting all this kindness, when I think of Eve and all that she put up with. I just showed up occasionally for a bit and then buzzed off.

      Posted by elainecanham | August 11, 2014, 6:38 pm
    • You’re not snarly, but bear in mind that I don’t know Eve. I only know you, so give her my sympathy all the way from across the ocean, and take a little for yourself as well, because it’s okay for you to feel bad about the loss of a good friend.

      Posted by naptimethoughts | August 11, 2014, 9:27 pm
    • thank you.

      Posted by elainecanham | August 11, 2014, 10:05 pm
  6. So sorry to hear this, duckie, A blow to the solar plexus, right enough. Sending comfort vibes~~~~~

    Posted by Jools | August 11, 2014, 4:35 pm
  7. How very sad and what a story and what memories. My condolences to you on the loss of someone who obviously meant a lot to you and to his family and friends who loved him and whom he loved. His memory will obviously live on; immortality perhaps.

    Posted by Jane Risdon | August 11, 2014, 3:48 pm
  8. That’s a very beautiful tribute, Elaine. My sympathy to you. It’s easier not to love, because it would never hurt.

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | August 11, 2014, 3:16 pm
  9. Few friendships survive this long. No wonder you’re having a rough day. My commiserations Elaine but no doubt Bob will be looking down on your posts and enjoying them.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | August 11, 2014, 1:57 pm
    • Actually, we all pretty much do keep in contact. We don’t see each other that often, maybe at school reunions, but we all know what’s going on. I suppose that is the great advantage of living in small town. You never know what blast from the past you’re going to meet in Sainsbury’s

      Posted by elainecanham | August 11, 2014, 1:58 pm
  10. What a tragedy. My heart goes out to you and his family. Take care.

    Posted by First Night Design | August 11, 2014, 1:06 pm

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