Racism, poverty, oppression, thou hast an enemy and thy name is BOB!
Trust in today’s shift from this blog’s primary focus on humor and travel to indulge in unapologetic “heartwarming”. Warm fuzzies guaranteed – stick around! Travel is still involved though not my own, this lesson not involving fiascos or mischief but instead honor, example, & kindness. For all seeking menu alternatives to the cold & unappetizing chunks of distressing news and disheartening stories offered up by the servers at the shark frenzy buffet, I serve up this infinitely more appetizing & refreshing tale! And it goes a lil’ somethin’ like this:
The first of the two “Bob’s” in our story is my father. He passed away in 2004, a (young) senior, Caucasian man hailing from a small & un-heard of town in Indiana. He left a beautiful wake positive marks, memories, & respect with all whom he crossed paths with. He was a good father and a good man. He made me and countless others laugh in eye rolling and, frequently, embarrassing ways and instilled in me an annoyed, frustrated, yet ultimately appreciated skill regarding mischievous, laughter filled, sarcasm & sparring. His wardrobe choices bordered on tragic, his vibrant and passionate personality and melodic, deep, & talented singing voice never lost on those who encountered it. A product of a poverty stricken upbringing, he was raised across the street from train tracks with his parents, a brother, and five sisters in a three bedroom, 1 bath household. With purpose and determination, he embraced education, both personally & professionally, and became known as a standout in his mathematical career and, mostly privately and always humbly, as a man who strove to improve the lives of others through providing inspiration and opportunities otherwise unavailable.
Twenty some years ago my parents together realized a dream as they set off on an eagerly anticipated African safari. During their trip my parents found themselves so deeply touched and impressed by their young, local, male, tour guide that my father took it upon himself to rally with their other, newly met, tour companions. Without direct solicitation but merely through intentionally casual conversation relaying a dream, my father managed to gather significant funds from the other travelers in their group to help this young man begin his own safari/guide outfit in Africa, one that he had wistfully indicated was his dream. Little did he know that this casual conversation with an American tourist would open a door to a new and better life of independence and financial freedom.
And now we move on to Bob #2.
Fast forward eight years after my father’s passing and 15+ years after the trip in reference, the “safari group” continued to remain in occassional touch, primarily over the holidays. On this long after holiday season, I received a phone call from my mother to share the most amazing information she had just received from someone within the group. The news was that a message had been received down the internet pipeline from this long-ago man with a dream, a resident of Tanzania, Africa. The man now had a son…..and the son’s name is BOB.
Yes, there is an African boy in Tanzania named BOB, after my father.
We all hope to leave a legacy. Some type of positive mark, memory, or difference in this world after we are gone and I cannot think of a better one. I am filled with pride, joy, gratitude, and appreciation for being raised by a man with such heart, values, and kindness. I am quite certain that when this son introduces himself in his native country that it is met with question and that the answer always involves my father in the most wonderful of ways.
A favorite quote of mine goes, “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”. Helen Keller said that, not Bob….but he could have.