Celebrating Bobby: Stories from His Life, #6

My brother Bobby liked to travel light, free from entanglements. But there was one entanglement that he carried with him wherever he went. You could say it was the mother of all entanglements. Mother as in MOTHER–our mother.

In a crack-crazed frenzy one night Bobby shoved Mother to the floor and stomped on her, breaking her hip. She eventually recovered and seemed to have forgiven him. Maybe she also felt contrite. For years we had all been emotionally ravaged at various times from her explosive, abusive temper. Had she said some things that night that provoked Bobby, who was already beyond rationality or restraint in a drug-induced fury?

My sister and I had seen Bobby’s glassy-eyed, animalistic behavior ourselves when he was under the influence of crack-cocaine, and I can still remember how we barricaded ourselves in the bedroom when we feared for our own safety.

But Bobby and Mother made up, and life went on. For awhile, at least.

A few years later Mother was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. It was during those long months when she lay dying that Bobby gave her and us all a great gift. He was the one of her four children who stayed with her and looked after her on a daily basis.

My brother Billy and his wife Linda, a registered nurse, lived nearby and also kept a check on her. My sister Betsy and I were a thousand miles away with full-time jobs and family responsibilities. The last time she and I saw Mother was when she came to the memorial service for my sister’s husband John, killed in a C130 airplane crash on October 5th, 1992. Bobby drove her up to Virginia from Florida, oxygen tank and tubes included.

One month later Betsy and I were on a plane to Florida for a memorial service for Mother. Our two brothers were there to greet us.

They are both gone now. Little did I know that the next time we would see Bobby would be at the memorial service for Billy. Nor did I realize at the time how Bobby, whose freedom was his driving passion, had freed me not once, but twice.

I like to travel light, he said, freeing me from my misplaced sense of responsibility for his personal choices. I was glad I could be there, he said, of the time he spent with Mother during her final days. So was I.

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