Celebrating Bobby: Stories from His Life, #2

I was sitting at my desk when I got the call.

A sobbing voice on the other end cracked and asked me if it were true.

It was my brother Bob. He had just found out about the death of our brother Billy from reading the obituary notice in the newspaper.

At that time, Billy’s widow and son were, in fact, on their way up to Virginia, where we were having a memorial service for Billy.

“Do you think it would be appropriate,” Bobby said when his sobbing eased, “would it be okay for me to come to the service?”

I had not expected such a question, and it took me a minute to answer.

“Of course,” I said. “But Bob, that’s not the question. The question is do you WANT to come to the service.”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I do.”

My sister Betsy and I made plans for Bobby to fly up here and stay with us.

“Just two things, Bob,” I said, as I was going over the arrangements with him. Knowing that he had no car, I asked him if he could find transportation to the Orlando airport, about an hour or so away from Merritt Island.

“Yes,” he said.

“Okay, second question–do you have a valid ID. You can’t get on a plane these days without one.” It was September of 2002 and airport security had tightened dramatically in the past year.

“Yes,” he said, “I have a Florida state ID card.”

It sounded like we were all set. At the appointed time, Betsy drove the 90 minutes to BWI and went to the gate to meet him. No Bobby.

That was the beginning of a weekend I’ll never forget.

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