Celebrating Bobby: Stories from His Life, #5

Something happened the other day to remind me that I hadn’t finished what I wanted to say about my brother Bobby. It seems that a distant family member, someone who had been “written off” as being unworthy of any further claims to family affection or affiliation, was actually the one person who came through at a time and place when other highly esteemed family members checked out.

No, it wasn’t Bobby. But it could have been.

That was actually the first great gift that Bobby gave me. But there was another gift that happened a few years later that enabled me to see the first one through a more generous lens.

Bobby was sitting at our kitchen table trying to read the newspaper when he asked me if I had a magnifying glass. I brought him two–a small one for slipping in a pocket and a larger one with a handle. “Here,” I said, “take either or both.”

“If you’re sure you don’t mind,” he said, “I’ll take the small one. I like to travel light.”

That was when I asked him if he had any regrets about the lifestyle he had chosen, living on the streets on a hand-to-mouth basis.

“No,” he said. “I don’t like to be tied down, and I don’t need much. But I have lots of friends and lots of freedom, and that’s what I love.”

I had no doubts about his sincerity. There was no defiance or insistence in his answer–just a simple statement of who he was, relaxed, at ease, and happy with the choices he had made.

A heavy burden lifted off my shoulders then. For years I had been wondering if there was something (God knows what) that I should have been doing to “save” Bobby. Now I knew. We were both free to follow our own paths.

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