Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More Memories of Bob

"Big Bob" and "The Cajun" - 2009
Just one of Bob's many friends 

I continue to be surprised by my emotional reaction to the passing of my longtime dear friend Bob McCamley. I don't usually get this emotional over deaths, even family members or friends.  But I guess I didn't realize how much Bob was part of my life.  

Bob and my brother John (the pastor) - 2007

This morning I was making phone calls to try and find out what arrangements are being made for Bob.  I called the nursing and rehabilitation center where Bob spent his last days.  They told me they couldn't even tell me he passed, only his nephew could tell me that.  

Bob and one of his two nephews the day Bob entered assisted care - 2013

I called his nephew who has been taking care of Bob's affairs.  No answer. I left a message.

I called the assisted care facility where Bob and his longtime partner Jim lived until last earlier this year when Jim had to move Bob to a full care facility.  They said Jim was there and put me on hold.  I finally hung up when no one came to the phone.

Bob's friend from Metropolitan Community Church Miles and Tim - 2010

Then I decided to call Bob's nephew's wife.  She answered on the second ring.  I told her who I was.  I had met her two years ago when she and her husband and his brother and the brother's wife put Bob at the assisted care facility on Bob's birthday, December 10th, 2013.  She immediately said "Oh I am so sorry for your loss honey."  

Bob and my Mother - both died in September (9-16-2013 for my Mother) - 2007

When she said that I lost it.  I couldn't talk.  There was silence.  I tried to talk but I had the biggest frog ever in my throat trying to get out. Tears started to well in my face.  

Bob and Jim at their home - 2009


So embarrassing.  Finally I manage to squeak out "Thank you. Do you know of Bob's arrangements yet."  Of course all I got out clear was "thank you" before I started to bawl again like a little girl.  I don't know if she even understood the last "do you know of Bob's arrangements."  More silence from me.  

Bob and his dog Bonnie - 1987 - they're together again

Finally I got myself together . . . . somewhat . . . and said "I'm am so sorry."  She said "Don't worry honey, I understand. We'll let you know when the arrangements are made. Glenn (Bob's nephew) will call you." 

Bob and Bill - this is the last time Bob had a meal at our house - 2009

So embarrassing.  And to think this morning I was going to ask if I can speak at his service.  I've never spoken at any funeral service before but I feel a strong need to speak at Bob's service.  I have so many stories to tell of our times together that I know those who were privileged to know him and love him would like to hear.  But after this morning I don't think I can do it.  If I did I would be one of those sobbing messes who draws more attention to himself than the person they are there to honor.  At my Mother's funeral I solved this problem by asking my brother, who is a pastor and speaks at funeral services for a living, to read my written words.  Perhaps I will do the same at Bob's service.  I wish I could speak but after this morning's embarrassing episode I doubt I can.

This is hard folks, very hard. 

Below are pictures of better times:

Bob in front of John Wanamaker's where he used to work - 1980

When we both used to work in Center City Philly, I would meet Bob for lunch.  He worked at John Wanamakers and I worked at Girard Bank, only a block away.  Oh those were the days.  Bob hated that job but we had good lunches together.

Bart, Jim and Bob - 2012
Every time I take a picture with Bart in it he sticks his finger up his nose which ceased to be funny about ten years ago

This is Bart, Jim's former partner who Jim urged to move to Delaware from his home in New York state because he couldn't afford to pay the taxes any more.  Jim told Bart "We'll look after you."  Bart is 94 years old now and still living by himself in his house and doing fine, or as well as can be for a 94 year old.  Bob is gone and Jim is in assisted care which just goes to show you, things don't always go as planned.  Bill and I plan to visit Bart this Friday to see how he is doing.

Bob at his home - 2012
Bob loved his home (a doublewide) on twenty-two wooded acres outside of Georgetown.  No one lives there now.  Bill and I were there yesterday, it is overgrown. So sad. All the happiness for so many that used to happen there.

No longer a home - the love is gone

One year I met Bob in Provincetown for a really crazy vacation.  We both had button down, corporate type jobs in the city (Philadelphia).  Oh boy, did we ever let go when we vacationed in P-Town.  I took this picture of Bob and his then current boyfriend Gino (who has also passed).  A black lesbian heard our merriment and asked to join.  And the kind of person Bob is he said "Come on and join!"  She did and this is the resulting picture which I always said I was going to blackmail him with.  Never did of course.

Gino, Bob and ? in Provincetown, Mass - 1978

Women were always drawn to Bob. He had that kind of personality.  Bob didn't mind unless they started to think a "step further" which he wasn't willing to go or, even more drastic, matrimony.  Bob was 100%, no bisexual was he.  Here is another threatened blackmail picture (that I never used) that was taken during one of the not infrequent bacchanals at The Ranch.

Bob and ? - how did she get in his doublewide? - 1980

As you can see, I have a TON of pictures of Bob.  I hope you don't mind me sharing some of them with you.  He was my friend and I will miss him . . . . a lot.  These are the memories I have and will cherish as long as I live.

I believe this was Bob's last visit to our home - he didn't drive any more after this visit - 2012


the dogs' mother said...

xoxoxoxxo share away. Bob was so lucky to have a friend(s) to remember him so. What a party you all are going to have some day. :-)

nitewrit said...


I'm upset that the nursing home wouldn't even tell you your friend had passed. Don't get that at all. What would they have told you if you had come to visit? Quite understandable your reaction. The man was a close friend a long time. I only met him a couple times and even though he was down that dark road all ready a friendliness shown through. September has turned out to be a sad month for us both. Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of my mother's passing as well. Ron, if you have a need to talk out your grid give me a call. You know I'm always here for you.


Anonymous said...

Ok I am crying and I didn't even know him..though I shopped at wanamakers a lot in the 80's..I was a teenager we would take the el down from the north east.

Anyway your love for him comes through. Don't be ashamed or worry about crying. People mourning is a sign of a life well lived and well loved and I think the love and caring you had comes through in this post. Yes the Catholic girl(middle aged girl) in me will say a prayer for both of your. Friendship, love and endurance is all that matters in the end and you guys had it all.

Cry. Scream. Throw something. For you have suffered a great loss


anne marie in philly said...

please DO share your pix and memories of bob, dear!

Jeff said...

These are wonderful memories you are posting. Sometimes it is difficult for me to even look at picture of friend who have past without crying. You are a brave and loyal friend.

Karen said...

My aunts memorial service is this Saturday. I would live to speak. But like you, I get all choked up just thinking about it. I thought of writing my message and sending it to my cousins. It's so hard to lose someone special.

Tony said...

We were all younger once, and have had full lives, and these pictures and stories tell us all a little bit about your friend Bob. Your sadness is justified, but I want you to know that there is a reason they are calling funerals "celebrations of Life" these days. LIFE is to be celebrated, and it looks like Bob did just that. We all slow down, we all exhaust our youth and our energy, and we are all here for a very brief amount of time. Bob populated the planet fully, enjoying his sexuality when it was not an easy thing to do--that is something to be happy about. They say that a loved one literally embeds themselves in our cells, since every look, every touch causes a chemical reaction that forever changes us. Bob is in your cells, Ron, and always will be for the rest of your life, and now he is in our memories too, thanks to your tributes. Feel your grief, cry your tears, and honor your friend. You were fortunate, and so was he.

Jack said...

Please re-think your decision not to speak at Bob's funeral. When it comes right down to it you will gather inner strength and even if you only say a few words, you will celebrate a good friend's life and that's what it is all about. I spoke at both my father and mother's service, didn't think I could but I did. At my mother's service we passed the microphone around to those in attendance and there were quite a few takers who reflected back on my mother, that meant so much to me and my family. I know it will be difficult but I know you can do it.
Again, I feel your loss.

Theaterdog said...

Greetings from france
I think that was a beautiful tribute...truly.
I wish there were more guys out there like you.
Sorry for your loss...

Ron said...

Thank you for your condolences. Much appreciated.

Ron said...

I want to speak at Bob's funeral. However, I don't think he will have one. I'm still trying to find out the arrangements but have been unable so far which is very frustrating and starting to anger me, I'm sorry to say. I did hear that he's going to be cremated which probably means I won't be able to see him one last time. Then I heard something about a memorial service at the Rehoboth Metropolitan Community Church which he attended. I'm not sure if I want to participate in that, I would rather be at a service where he is actually there even though he's in a coffin. I'm not a fan of memorial services but I'm not passing judgment on hoers who find that a sufficient way to pay their respects to the departed. I'll have to see how I feel when that time comes around, probably next week.

Ron said...

So well said. You understand and express my feelings so eloquently. Thank you Tony.

Ron said...

I feel the need to actually speak at a service for Bob, if he's having one which I'm not even sure he is. At my Mother and father's funeral service, my brother spoke for me (he read my written words). But that was easy for him because that's what he does for a living, he's a care pastor and has spoken at literally hundreds of funerals. He can get through the eulogies without choking up, even his own parents. If I choke up at Bob's service, so be it. But I think I'm going to go for it.

Ron said...

Thank you Jeff. This is difficult for me. Each day gets a little better though, once the shock of realizing he is permanently gone and I will never again see or speak to him.

Ron said...

Thank you Anne Marie. I am so sorry you never had the opportunity to meet Bob. You two would have it it off so well. I will post more pictures in the future but I'll give my loyal blog readers a break right now.

Ron said...

I rarely cry except at some stupid movie which I know is fact. But in real life, I rarely cry. I can count on one had the times I have cried: my good friend Alice, my Mother and two of my five dogs, Horace and Babydoll. Crying over the dogs made me feel ashamed but now I realize that is normal too. I never cried for my father nor others who were close to me but some people, are such an indelible part of my life that when they died it left a big hole in me.
Thank you for your condolence Judy.

Ron said...

Yes, I thought that was strange too that the nursing home couldn't even confirm that Bob had passed away. I'm still trying to find out his arrangements I am upset that Jim, who knows that I was Bob's longtime friend, wouldn't think to call me but he's always been that way, all about Jim. I really shouldn't be surprised. I've tried to call him but to no avail, which doesn't surprise me. He's never contacted me or Bill on his own, ever.
I'll give you a call as soon as I catch up on some things.

Ron said...

the dog's mother,

You're right about that, "what a party were are all going to have together some day".

Raybeard said...

Oh, Ron. Such a heartfelt post. (Felt I was going to break down myself.) Come through it stronger. Can't say any more.

Ron said...

Thank you Ray. Bob was a major part of my life. You would have liked him and he you.

Anonymous said...

Bob was one of a kind.with a gentle heart with so many skills and talents. I think he loved and was loved by everybody. Big Bob and Jim, we love you.
Paul in Mississippi

PS Thanks Ron for providing us with this opportunity to honor Bob.

Ron said...

I think I know who you are (Scotty). Good to know you're still around. Bill and I visited Bart Rhoades this morning. He's 92 and doing fine or as well as can be for that age. It's so ironic, but Bob and Jim asked Bart to move to Delaware so they could look after him in his old age.
You are so right about Bob being one of a kind. Another friend of ours said it best when he said "Bob was one of the most gentle gentlemen he had ever met." I was so fortunate that Bob was my friend for so long and especially at the formative period in my life when I was only 18 years old. Seeing his long decline these past ten or so years wasn't easy. I know it's a cliche but Bob is in a better place now and he left behind so many good memories of those who were fortunate enough to know him during his lifetime.