Sunday, December 25, 2011

Robert W. Wallace

One last story because I want his name in cyber space.
   I do not understand writing people off, erasing them like a mistake on a chalkboard.  I think that I remember every single person that I have ever met.  Maybe I might forget their names but each meeting has a response and adjusts the filters through which I see.
   "Bob" Wallace was a friend of my brother's, a part of his gang that gathered around my parent's house in the early 1960's.  The Vietnam era, get out the vote era, segregation era, before "hippies" were invented, still a "beatnik" era.  For some this time was about drive ins, hamburger joints, motorcycles and girls two and a half kids, a white picket fence and "leave it to Beaver".  Ozzy and Harriot kind of life.  The draft had started and for other's life became a bit more serious.
   Bob's parents had a plan for him.  It is always interesting how we are let down by our expectation of others.  Like we couldn't quite figure it out ourselves so we expect other's to do it for us.  Live out our dreams.  They were rich by the standards of our little town.  His dad was the Superintendent of Schools, a pretty important job in those days, a job with high expectations.  Bob was supposed to go to Cal Tech and become an engineer.  He was smart enough.  Could have been like Steve Jobs although he dropped out of school too.  Bob went to Cal Tech for a term and dropped out.  That wasn't the carrot he wanted to chase.
   I knew Bob for maybe three years.  He had a huge influence on my life.  He was buried on one of the tallest hills in Corvallis and I used to ride my bicycle to his grave site to visit him.
   For the longest time it was an unmarked grave; years passed before a marker was set.  His mother didn't go to the funeral or visit him in the hospital where he was in a coma.  His father visited him once for about five minutes.  Years later when his father died there was no mention of Bob in that obituary.
   Bob died in a Vespa accident.  A simple flat tire sent him head over heals and without a helmet his head took the brunt of the fall.  The issue with his parents could have been anything.  I am not sure whether it has any importance.  Could have been the times, just failed expectations,  maybe even something I don't know about.  I know he didn't have insurance.  Maybe it was that?  His dad sent him money for insurance and he spent it on a stereo system instead.  He liked music.
   One day, maybe twenty years later, I went to visit his grave.  I did this at least once a year, sit and talk with him, tell him what was happening, what was going on.  I would always steal a flower from another grave site and place it on his.  He would have appreciated the humor to that, the absurdity of everything.  We laughed a lot.
  On this particular day he wasn't there.  I knew exactly where he was supposed to be, by the side of the little narrow lane, next to a little pine tree and close to a rose bush.  Poof! He was gone, just like that.  Like he never was.
   I found the caretaker and he told me that Bob was dug up and cremated.  His marker so much broken marble behind the crematorium.  Disappeared.  From guilt or hatred or embarrassment I don't know.
   Robert W. Wallace.  I remember you.

7 comments:

curlyvictor said...

I remember Bob too. He was a cool guy, cooler than Lloyd. I remember Theo being upset that there was no gravestone. That caused friction between Herb and Theo. Dug up and cremated? That's odd. Merry Christmas.

Kay said...

wow Jerry..what a story to leave us on. Going to miss you here in cyberspace. Bob knows where he is and so do you..in your heart and memories.

Barbra Joan said...

Jerry, my second attempt to post this..
You are a 'one of a kind'
Some of your stories are so touching ... as this one .
You've motivated, inspired, and encouraged me much more than you know ... so from my heart to yours,
thank you for being my friend.
Barbra Joan

conservativelybohemian said...

I so echo BJ. And I find myself quite angry at Bob's parents. No matter what, I could never walk away from my children. I also like Kay's last sentence. How fabulous to know that Bob made such an impression on you, Jer. That, my friend, is cool.

Tiffiny said...

You got a third echo here. Really going to miss your posts. No matter what they are about they always come from the heart. Sure you won't reconsider?

stonepost said...

Thank you all. I might. Maybe.
I am thinking. If I can come up with something "new and improved"?

Tiffiny said...

Hi Jerry,

Back in November I was given a blog award. I am too extend it to other versatile bloggers. I know you said your done but I have nominated your blog for the award anyway. Feel free to grab the award on my blog if you want it. If not no big deal.

Hope we hear from you soon.