Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt

So me and Bobby leaned over the bridge trying to catch a very uninterested rainbow trout. Didn't know Bobby very well. He was rather aloof and superior. There were high expectations for him. His dad, my uncle, worked as a consultant for a power company. They moved around a lot. This new house was close to the families of my aunt and uncle and they felt that this would be a permanent location for them. Retirement lay at the end of a ten year plan for my Uncle and Bobby was graduating with honors. He was furthering his success after high school by joining the Marines. Yes, there were great expectations surrounding Bobby. What a man, what a man, what a mighty fine man. He was something to admire. Too bad that damned trout wouldn't cooperate on this fine spring day in May. It would have made the day perfect.

The next time I saw Bobby, all six foot four, two hundred and fifty pounds of him, was after his tour of duty in Vietnam at our grandfather's funeral. We were elected to be pall bearers. He didn't acknowledge me in the slightest way. I thought that it might be my long hair but he was beginning to sport a full beard and his hair was far from a military cut.

Over the next thirty years, I saw Bobby only a handful of times. He would have given Grizzly Addams a run for his money. Although Bobby looked more like the real thing. Long thick black hair and matching beard, he topped the scales close to two hundred and seventy pounds. He was never seen at any family gatherings and it was quietly spoken about that he was in and out of the VA hospital often. Also spent time in several rehabs for alcohol.

About six years ago I saw him at his sister's daughter's wedding reception and we sat together. It was a good time. He was still looking ever the mountain man and we had several laughs together. We even talked about going to the Black Family Reunion that celebrates our Scottish ties. We joked that we would need to climb the mountain to have a beer, as the reunion was always dry. That was the last time I saw Bobby alive.

His funeral was a double funeral. His father died a few months after Bobby and the bodies were held in vault for a springtime burial. On the hill where the cemetery is located, a late May wind blew while and bagpipes played that sort of mysterious melody that always weakens my knees and brings a lump to my throat. The minister said that Bobby died of Vietnam and that his father died of a broken heart.

Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt


Nicholodeon said…
Just blogging thorugh on a cold Sunday evening here in Winnipeg, Canada.

The story of Bobby I found very moving. I was in Univ during the Vietnam years, living in the States. A lot of my friends who went over there trod the same path as your Bobby did.

Requiescant in pace.
Amberly said…
It's incredibly sad how war can kill someone so many years later. Or were they dead already when they first arrived back home?

Being of full-blooded Scottish Heritage myself (I refuse to ever give up my maiden name), I've been to many funerals where there were bagpipes, including my own father's. In order to include a bit of zest from my personality at my own funeral, my funeral plans include bagpipers playing the traditional Scottish song "Let's Drink To Our Next Meeting" instead of Amazing Grace, as is normal in my family.