katherine said to me
as i made my way
through the kitchen
i picked up my phone to see
dawn had sent me a couple of messages.
after reading the first one,
i felt my heart start to break.
"bob soaper passed away."
i'd known bob's wife and son
most all of my life.
his wife, barbara,
was my mom's beloved first-grade teacher,
and his son, bob-o, was my age.
he was a good friend;
he and i graduated together.
it wasn't until
the spring of 1995
when i went to work
for the planter's coffee house
that i got to know bob.
instantly, i recognized
bob had a special way about him.
there was a twinkle in his eyes
and on his face...
a unique smile,
which begged to be reciprocated.
for nearly five years,
bob was not only the bright spot
of my mornings,
he was the bright spot of katherine's too.
katherine went out to greet her buddy
with a big ol' bear hug...
sometimes with a confection
she'd made just for him.
bob made his way from the coffee bar
back to the kitchen
to inquire about my daily special...
i offered him a taste.
he offered me advice
concerning my rue...
my pie crust.
i ALWAYS looked forward
to seeing bob
(clad in a crisp, white, button-down oxford
whether in the kitchen
perched at the bar,
drinking his coffee,
reading the newspaper...
sharing a story.
bob was family
to katherine and me...
so much so
we gave him and his family an open-invitation
to join us for our family's thanksgiving dinners
as most of their family lived out of town.
he even came and joined us for breakfast
at my grandmommie's apartment.
(i always giggled a little
when i thought of him...
bob was a
was really just an old softy.)
here we are as in olden days
happy golden days of yore...
i hadn't seen bob
(for far too long)
when katherine and i ran into him
last Christmas at hunan's, a local, chinese restaurant.
bob came over to our table.
we were thrilled to see him!
katherine and i both jumped up
and gave him great big hugs.
faithful friends who are dear to us
they gather near to us once more.
bob: come over here, dani.
i need to tell you something.
me: (smiling) okay.
bob looked at katherine.
bob: (grinning) you stay here.
this is between your mom and me.
katherine: (wondering) uh, okay...
(when she started working
at the library nearly four years ago,
katherine hadn't seen bob
in several years.
given bob was a regular at the library,
they picked up where they'd left off
and became big buddies once again.)
bob: dani, it's so good to see you.
me: you too, bob!
bob: (his eyes filled with tears) you have
a very special girl over there.
me: (my eyes filling with tears) thank you.
bob: no, i mean REALLY special,
and you need to know it.
every time i go into the library,
if katherine is there,
she brightens my day.
that kid has it all, dani.
she has personality,
she's a hard worker,
that smile just gets me
(a tear rolled down his cheek.)
me: (i winked at him) thank you, bob,
we think she's a keeper.
bob: yes, she is! you just don't know...
have yourself a merry little Christmas
we hugged again and wished one another
a merry Christmas.
me: i love you, bob.
but 'til then we'll have
to muddle through somehow.
that was the last time i saw bob.
earlier this year,
katherine came home and told me
bob was very ill and in the hospital.
katherine: can we send him some
flowers or something?
me: i will order flowers tomorrow.
several days later,
we received a sweet thank-you
saying bob had received the flowers...
they were waiting for him
at home when he returned
from the hospital.
hang a shining star upon the highest bough
today katherine and i are missing bob...
even though we haven't seen him,
he has been a part
of our daily thoughts and prayers,
and we have been blessed with the hope
we would see him again.
bob's death dashed the hope
of seeing him again here,
on this earth.
however, there is a silver lining...
we can still look forward to seeing bob
(we know he is there...
smoking a cuban,
drinking a cuppa joe,
jawing with st. peter.)
we will remember our loved one
i think i will go find a beautiful star
for katherine to place
atop her Christmas tree
(upon the highest bough)
in remembrance of our dear, dear friend,
love and God's blessings,