Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Robert C. Hobbs 1976-2005

Last week my best friend from high school called me at 8 in the morning. Clearly, she does not know me that well. When not working, I don't "do" 8 o'clock in the morning. So I knew something was wrong.

Her son, the son she had at 18, had joined the Army straight out of high school and had even been the first group sent to Iraq. I wrote Robbie, as I called him, weekly for his duration in Iraq, and he always took my rantings against Bush and the war with all the love for him that I had. I learned from Robbie to love the soldier even if I didn't love the war. Sometimes he would write back and wonder why he was there too, but he never ever questioned his job. He taught me that soldiers had jobs to do, and that no matter how we felt about politics and the war, we should honor, respect, and support those men and women in the military. He could have taught us all a thing or two during Vietnam.

Last summer (2004) Robbie and his wife Ann visited his parents to a wonderful homecoming complete with B-B-Q and all the food he had missed while in Iraq. It was so good to hug that skinny little kid I had known since he was born and rejoice in his good fortune to be alive. On Thursday, November the 3rd, Linda received a call from her Daughter-in-law that Robbie had been killed in a traffic accident. I could not believe the words as Linda told me that her son was dead. When you send your child to war, you accept the fact that he or she might die in war. When you send your child to training, you realize there is a chance, smaller, that there could be an accident that you weren't expecting. But when you send your soldier child to a military base in Germany for training, you never think she or he could die the same way they could have died if they had stayed home.

At the visitation, Linda and I hugged, and then she asked me to "come see his medals." Looking at a dead body is tough enough. Looking at a young person who is dead is gut-wrenching. Peering into a casket of a dead soldier while his mother proudly shows off her son's medals is almost too much to handle. I stood there, sobbing over his body while Linda held me. I cried as much for her strength and courage as I did for the senseless loss of life. I thanked God for protecting Linda during this time as she was this incredible life force throughout the time I was at the visitation. Our third "partner in crime" from high school drove in from Illinois. We ignored the gray hair and the extra lbs and hugged in a teary-eyed threesome that wiped out decades.

Linda and I went off to different colleges in August of '75 when I received a phone call that she was dropping out... to get married. When I asked her if she had to get married, she said, "I don't have to get married. We want to get married." I sang John Denver's "For Baby" at her wedding while wearing my yellow seersucker prom dress. (Hey, don't blame me. It was the 70s.) Linda became a mother at 18 and took that responsibility on her shoulders like I never could. She was always "older" and "wiser" than I could ever be. (She was the oldest of 3 while I was the baby of 4. It was in her genetic make-up to be stronger, more courageous.) The marriage soon ended in divorce (another statistic), but she worked even harder as both mother and father to Robbie. Eventually she would remarry a wonderful man who raised Robbie as his own son and they had a sister for Robbie. Linda went back to school for her nursing degree. I was so proud of her. I always admired Linda for her guts, her courage, her strength. She lost another son in childbirth after her daughter was born, and yesterday she had to bury her second son. Life really sucks sometimes.

On the way to Robbie's funeral, I recalled the words to the song I sang at Linda's wedding 30 years ago this month. Of course, they were written for Denver's son, but I sang them as if they were meant for a couple at a wedding. (Hey, again, it was the 70s.) On Monday on my way to Robbie's funeral as the tears slid down my face, I sang the words again in their original purpose... for baby... for Robbie. I could barely get them out as I am not as strong as Linda. It is the promise and prayer we have for all our children.

I’ll walk in the rain by your side,
I’ll cling to the warmth of your hand.
I’ll do anything to keep you satisfied,
I’ll love you more than anybody can.
And the wind will whisper your name to me,
little birds will sing along in time.
Leaves will bow down when you walk by
and morning bells will chime.
I’ll be there when you’re feeling down
to kiss away the tears that you cry.
I’ll share with you all the happiness I’ve found,
a reflection of the love in your eyes.
And I’ll sing you the songs of the rainbow,
a whisper of the joy that is mine.
Leaves will bow down when you walk by
and morning bells will chime.
I’ll walk in the rain by your side,
I’ll cling to the warmth of your tiny hand.
I’ll do anything to help you understand,
and I’ll love you more than anybody can.
And the wind will whisper your name to me,
little birds will sing along in time.
Leaves will bow down when you walk by
and morning bells will chime.


At 9:22 PM, Blogger Leesa said...

I'm at a loss for words. My prayers go out to you and Linda and your families. I just can't imagine the loss.

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Sarahlynn said...

Heartbreaking. ""I hope by now Rob has found that trout stream in heaven," said his uncle"

I am so sorry.

At 1:44 AM, Blogger redhead83402 said...

The Rose Beyond the Wall

Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in God's free light,
Watered and fed by the morning dew,
Shedding it's sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall
Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice's length
And unfolded itself on the other side.

The light, the dew, the broadening view
Were found the same as they were before,
And it lost itself in beauties new,
Breathing it's fragrance more and more.

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve
And make our courage faint and fall?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive--
The rose still grows beyond the wall,

Scattering fragrance far and wide
Just as it did in days of yore,
Just as it did on the other side,
Just as it will forevermore.

~ A. L. Frink ~


At 8:15 AM, Blogger greekchickie said...

I am so very sorry to hear that! My tears are welled up with tears for y'all. Such a brave young man...

I hope he's with the angels, smiling down upon you & his mama.

Sending hugs~

At 10:02 AM, Blogger The Anti-Wife said...

What a beautiful tribute to an obviously wonderful man. My heart goes out to all who were affected by his death.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Redhead Editor said...

You all are the best. No one understands bloggy friends until they've had them!

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Angela said...

I have no idea what to say, other than this is truly heartbreaking. I'm so sorry. Sorry for Linda, sorry for you, sorry for Robbie... Terrible.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger starbright1951 said...

There is never the proper words to say when a child is lost. I cried as I read this heartfelt tribute to a young man and his family. I am so very very sorry. I understand at this time it is difficult for those who knew and loved him. I hope time to be gentle and to ease the pain quickly. May he come to you in your dreams and in your memory of him. Recall the happy times, and the times shared.

Sincerely from my heart and with tears in my eyes I am so so sorry. I don't have the right words but I feel a stabbing pit in my chest and I am not able to image how you feel, my feeling is small I know in comparision to yours. Please accept my condolence from a mother of three who fear's losing one of her children. It's the parents that are suppose to go first.


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