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