Sunday, May 05, 2013

A Visit To My Longtime Friend


Me, Bob and Jim at North Shores

Regular followers of this blog know that I have a long time friend who now resides in a "senior living" facility in Rehoboth.  This afternoon Bill and I visited Bob and his partner of 32 years, Jim.


Bob (upper left) and me (lower right) at Ft. Devens, Mass. 1960

I've known my friend Bob even longer that I've been with Bill.  Bob and I were in the Army together.  I joined January 27th, 1960 and Bob was drafted January 27th, 1960.  We met after basic training at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts.  We were both attending the Army Security Agency training school.


Bob (left) and me (right) clowning around at lunch break at Ft. Devens, Mass 1960

Bob and I were best friends, not just friends but best friends during the six months we attended school together.  We did everything together from going to the movies, doing laundry and riding home to Pennsylvania on the weekends (a trip hardly worth it because it took eight hours each was but only cost $8.00 per person).  

After we were finished school Bob chose an assignment to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and I chose Ft. Meade, Maryland.  We  would have chosen the same assignments but there weren't enough allotments.

During the next two and a half years we stayed in almost constant contact by that method of communication from the last century called letters or "snail mail" as it is now know in this digital age.
Bob (center) and I (right) at Provincetown, Mass 1976

After I got out of the Army I moved to Pittsburgh. I was gay and I wanted to come out.  I came out to everyone.  Much to my surprise, when I informed my long time Army friend Bob I discovered he was gay too!

The irony is that we were never attracted to each other physically but our personalities meshed perfectly.  Over the years I've always stayed in contact with Bob.  In fact Bob is the reason I am living in Delaware now.  For many years I used to visit Bob at his single-wide trailer on his 22 acres of wooded land outside of Georgetown Delaware that he called "The Ranch."  


Me with Bob at "The Ranch" near Georgetown, DE  2000

When I decided to retire, Delaware was my first choice, for several reasons.  The low taxes but mainly because of Rehoboth Beach's gay friendly reputation and my good friendship with Bob and his partner Jim.  


Bob and I at the White Capes Cafe in Angola 2002

Sadly, a few years ago Bob began to lose his cognitive abilities.  I noticed this before anyone else did.  I tried to bring it to others attention but they thought I was exaggerating or imagining things.  I knew I wasn't.  I knew Bob better than just about anyone, even his family.


Bob and I still goofing around- 2008

Last year Bob and Jim moved into a senior living facility in Rehoboth Beach.  It is a wonderful (if expensive) facility.  Today Bill and I visited Bob and Jim.  We haven't seen them for about a month.  We were long overdue for a visit.  


Bob during his last visit to our home - 2012

Sometimes I visit Bob and I'm not sure if he knows who I am.  Today was different.  Today was a good day.  Today we knew who I was.  We had a good visit.  My friend Bob and I.


Bob and I today at the senior living facility where he lives today - he still has some of the old spunk - he whispered to me as we were leaving the dining room "See him (a waiter)?  That's a 10!"
That's the Bob I know and love.

11 comments:

  1. a great sense of humor there in bob!

    you ROCK those daisy duke shorts! ;-)

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    1. Anne Marie,

      How about those shorts? What was I thinking?

      Ron

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  2. It must be hard to see Bob but you are such a good friend to him. You are a wonderful man Ron and it really warms my heart to know there are good people like you around!

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    1. Nadege,

      The hardest part about seeing Bob is knowing all the fun things I can no longer share with him. We used to talk almost every night by phone. If I call him now, he falls asleep at the other end. And if he doesn't fall asleep, he doesn't remember or understand what I say. However, there are good days and today was one of them. I knew that when he whispered to me that the waiter in his dining room was a 10. That's the old Bob I know. So I know he's not totally gone.

      Ron

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  3. There is no greater treasure than to have old friends whom you've known for a lifetime - - friends who remember all the places and events that you knew in the distant past. That's such a uniting bond. It's also so heartbreaking to see a friend growing older and deteriorating mentally. I'm so glad that your visit today was a good one!

    When my favorite aunt (Aunt Ann, my Mom's sister) began to show signs of Alzheimer's, I was the very first one to notice it. Most of my relatives didn't believe me. Aunt Ann's condition eventually deteriorated into dementia and she spent her final years as a living vegetable. Ironically she died on the same date as my mother - December 7th.
    (Sorry that I went off on one of my rambles.....)

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    1. Jon,

      Like you, when I noticed that my friend Bob started to "miss" things I refused to believe it at first too. I used to kid him by saying "What's the matter with you? You getting Alzies?" We would both laugh about it. But later, when his lapses became more frequent I knew something was terribly wrong. It finally got to the point where I had to call his nephews to intervene because even Bob's partner JIm didn't see what was happening to Bob. His nephew's didn't believe me at first either. After a few more calls, especially one where I told them that Bob shouldn't be driving because he could hurt himself or someone else, they finally intervened. And I must say they have done a wonderful job in getting Bob set up at the senior living center and taking care of his finances. I wish I had someone in my life to do that for me should I ever become incapacitated.

      It is heartbreaking Jon to see my old friend slower disappear. We used to talk about so much. He was the one I always talked to when I had problems with Bill or my job or anything else (like my current medical situation). I can't talk to him now. It is very sad. However, yesterday was heartwarming when he noticed that cute waiter in the dining room. That's the Old Bob I know and love!

      Ron

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  4. It's awesome that you've been friends for so long. I sat here for a few minutes thinking if I had anyone that I'd known as long, or had a hope of knowing for so long. Not sure about that yet.

    I'm sure it's painful to see Bob losing his memory. I hope you have many more "good days" with him!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Jay,

      I knew yesterday was a good day with my friend Bob when he whispered "Ten! Ten!" when we left the dining room and the cute waiter. That was the old Bob I used to know. Nice to know there was still enough of him left that he didn't miss that cutie. Bob's not totally gone yet.

      Ron

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  5. what a lovely story.

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    1. Dr. Spo,

      It's a shame you never got to meet my friend Bob. You would have liked him and I know he would have liked you. :)

      Ron

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  6. It was heart warming to hear about your close friendship with Bob. To think you knew him all that time before discovering he was gay. You are a loyal friend, Ron! It must be sad that the Bob you once knew is not there at times and you can't always share the old times together.

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