We hoisted one yesterday for a guy named Bob. Maybe we all know someone named Bob. The Bob I’m talking about was special in that, in many ways – he wasn’t special. He was unassuming, quick to share a story or two from growing up in Maine, quicker with a smile, and under any scenario, would give you (or a complete stranger) the shirt off of his back. We could probably all use a few more people in our lives that aren’t special, like Bob.
Never one to abide by formality, Bob would have been pleased that his friends and family came together to toast – and roast – him. His wife Maureen and family chartered a cruise from Portsmouth (NH) out to the Isles of Shoals (one of Bob’s favorite places to take his boat), so we could, as friends and family, share a story or two. So let’s tip back a Johnny Walker Red and tell a tale…
I didn’t meet Bob until I had started dating this young filly who would later become my bride. I started to get a sense of the community I was in for when I started meeting her (mostly nursing) friends and (current and former) roommates, and through that connection I met Bob, as he was dating one of Karen’s friends, Maureen.
To help set the table, let me just say that as smart as my bride is, she showed a complete lack of judgment dating me. On (many) more than one occasion, I had her screaming at me for one reason or another (I am quick to tell people I lost all respect for her when she said she’d marry me). Whether it be downhill skiing, hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, or whatever the activity, it was more than likely I would have my bride screaming at me before an event was over.
There was no learning going on for either one of us. On one occasion we decided to hike Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park – way up in Piscataquis, Maine, and Bob and Maureen thought it would be a good idea to join us. What can I say.
Katahdin (meaning The Greatest Mountain) is the 5,300 foot northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and nothing but a huge bundle of rocks. For us it was a long camping weekend and from the campground a day hike up to the summit and back. I won’t be lying when I say we chose the hottest day of the year to make our ascent.
We packed water, lunch, extra clothes and headed to Katahdin. Bob wore either boat shoes or tennis sneakers – let’s just say he was not a happy camper when we finished our hike, although he wouldn’t say a word to us about it.
For those who have never been to Katahdin, this is a beautiful mountain. Katahdin is unlike most other mountains in that it is just one big pile of rocks. There is little cover from trees over much of the hike, it is extremely uneven in that you are constantly hiking over boulders, and on a hot day (or any day) you are heartily exposed to whatever elements nature serves up.
On this hottest of summer days, we were drinking and dousing ourselves with cold spring waters coming out of the rocks, but made it to the summit. On the return, and for the last quarter mile or so, I helped carry Karen and her gear off the mountain – we were all tapped. Maureen later told me that Bob had said to her, seeing me carrying Karen off the mountain, that that was true love. Turns out he was right.
Since that hike, and many more wonderful experiences over the years, we have cherished their friendship.
And you know, their annual lobster cookouts didn’t hurt…
While for many years we could not attend, Bob and Maureen hosted annual summer cookouts – only instead of the traditional burgers and dogs, there would be more lobster than you could eat! Bob owned a boat and would take his traps out to the Isles of Shoals, from Dover down the tidal Piscataqua River and 6 miles off the New Hampshire coast. On cookout day, there would be boiled lobsters waiting to be eaten, lobsters cooking, lobsters in coolers waiting to be cooked, and lobsters still in traps tied to the dock in case, well, just in case. As one who can eat more than his share of lobster, this was for me nothing less than gluttony. Ooh la la. This is when wrong is right.
Fast forward to last summer. Karen and I were sitting in Bend, Oregon, having traveled to California for a wedding, headed up the west coast, and were on our way to Olympic National Park west of Seattle when Karen gets an email from Maureen asking if we want to go to their summer cookout in a few weeks. So, travel straight north a few hundred miles to a national park we had never seen before, or take a right and drive 3,200 miles east to Dover, NH? No brainer – we headed east for a cookout!!
Along these 3,200 miles, Karen and I discussed the potential of moving back to New England. By the time we made it to the cookout, we had a realtor lined up, houses to see, and in about 3 days had purchased a house. Such is our nature. Since that time, we have decided to move back to Marietta, but it is all good – make that great.
Since we have returned to New England, we have had to say farewell to Bob, and yesterday we as friends and family remembered this fine gentleman that we are honored to call friend. We cruised out of Portsmouth to one of his favorite places, the Isles of Shoals (fishing village from the late 1600’s), where he would fish and sometimes just spend a night or weekend anchored near the islands with Maureen. A more beautiful place I cannot think of.
So to a father, husband, friend, businessman, lobsterman and boatsman, fair seas and following winds, Bob. You will be missed. But we were thinking of you – and talking about you!!