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On Angels and Messengers

Friday, February 1, 2013


Memories of My Cousin, 
Bob Kirk:  a personal reflection

Part I.  The Red Plastic Scissors

I have no memories older than this one -- a gift from my cousin, Bob.  I was no more than 2 years old.  He was in his early twenties.  My mother was his Guardian; and Bob lived with us when he was in college.  I know it was no later than 1948 or 1949, because Bob moved out when he and Jeanne got married; and we moved across the street in 1950.

The "boy's bedroom" had dark maple bunk beds for my brother and me.  I can vaguely see a desk and a single bed. I guess that would have been Bob's bed.  I remember Bob sitting in the chair at the desk, graciously letting me try to cut his hair with a pair of red plastic scissors.  I'm not sure if the scissors were sharp enough, but I do remember that both of us were laughing.  When you've been on the planet for only a couple of years, it's a big deal when you're allowed to do something new like this.  I'm sure Bob had no idea how special that moment would always be to me.

After 64 years, I finally got around to start writing this thank-you note to him ...  and another 6 months to finish it.  My mother always told me to slow down.  (Bob, please tell her I'm OK.) 

Part II.  More Memories of Bob -- some big, some small.  
  • I remember being puzzled about Bob's last name being different from his brother's.  This was long before Bill Shatner decided to become a Kirk, too.
  • I remember when Bob took me on my first airplane ride, sometime in the late 1950s, perhaps 1957 -- on a twin-engine plane with propellers, probably a DC-3, Mohawk Airlines from Boston to Rochester, NY.  It was nighttime -- and pouring rain.  Back then, planes didn't just roar:  they whined and rattled, too.  The flight  was awfully noisy, very dark, quite turbulent and terribly exciting -- but not scary, because Bob was there.
  • I remember the house on Seneca Parkway in Rochester.  I recognized the street 50 years later, when some of my NY "family" bought a house a few doors down.  
  • I remember a compliment that Bob gave me in that house. Bobbie had tripped over the cord of a big ceramic lamp, which was on the end-table next to my chair.  The flying lamp would have crashed on or near her.  Only a skinny kid could have made that diving catch behind the chair.  I was surprised and pleased to hear such a loud, enthusiastic "Fantastic catch, Vinny" from Cousin Bob.   
  • I remember being delighted to learn that Bob was bringing his family back from Rochester to the house they bought on Front Street in Weymouth. 
  • I don't remember if I ever thanked Bob for splicing the mast on my first sailboat, the first time I somehow snapped it -- half-way up.
  • I remember being impressed by Bob's oil paintings, and those by my own Dad -- and I listened when they talked at the Cape with Van Coleman about technique and composition.  
  • I remember, when many a Christmas morning was winding down, the joy of realizing that there would be more fun in the afternoon, when the Kirks arrived like gangbusters.  Sometimes, I didn't realize it until the door burst open.  Suddenly, the day had new life.
  • I remember thinking that my Cousin Bob had the ideal family -- better than the Nelsons -- and I confess that there were one or two times when I would have preferred it to my own.
  • I remember how Bob told me, as an adult, about his remarkably successful battle with arthritis.  He got me interested in Hatha yoga; and it has helped a lot.  That was one gift from Cousin Bob for which I did express my thanks to him.

Thank you, Bob, for all the inspiration that you gave me through the years.  We miss you here -- but I do believe that you and Jeannie are together again.  I also believe that if we could see you now ... Well,  there's a song about that.*  Please tell  Fr. John that we miss him, too -- and ask if he read what I wrote when he crossed the bar not so long ago.**  You do have Wi-Fi there, don't you?

With Love,
     Cousin Vinny

*   Click HERE  or Google "If You Could See Me Now - Don Moen".
** Click HERE or Google "Meus Deus Pater".

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