Loving Your Neighbor, Post #51

Bob turned 95 years old last August. His bright, blue eyes sparkled behind his thick, smudged glasses. His black cardigan sweater was his uniform, soiled with food and drinks missed by his mouth and napkin. His mind was sharp and his sense of humor lightened every setting. His Canon camera hung round his neck always ready to capture each moment.

Bob served as the patriarch of our neighborhood cul-de-sac. Retiring from Chicago as a graphic artist, Bob and his wife Lee paid $50,000 cash in 1986 for his Charleston home to be built. His graphic design firm was instrumental in creating the Coca-Cola Santa Claus. More importantly, he created a customized watercolor card for each of us for our birthdays and designed a beautiful pen and ink Charleston scene as his Christmas card each year. He was a legend.  Bob’s wife passed away in 1993, and he never remarried. He lived alone. We as neighbors adopted him.

Both my grandfathers passed away before I was born, so Bob became my surrogate grandfather.   He and his wife Lee bore four children, three who live in Illinois and one in California. Bob created his local family with his church family, Optimist Club friends, and the neighbors. As neighbors we worked together daily to take him meals, reminded him to take his medications, drove him to Wal-mart, and took him to the barber shop. My special job was to accompany him with his walker on a stroll several times a week around the cul-de-sac for some sunshine and exercise.

Last year both Bob and the neighbors realized he was getting too frail and medically dependent to live alone. He and his children decided he would move to Illinois to live with one of the daughters. Bob took the news pretty well and just kept talking about the cold. He slowly began to gather boxes and we helped him pack his most prized possessions, like his photographic scrapbooks, chronicling almost each moment.

Last August 2nd the neighbors and I threw a 95th birthday and farewell party for Bob at his church along with his children and Optimist Club friends.  In all about 100 people attended. His pastor said it was the first party of its kind he had seen with the Guest of Honor also celebrating in the room. Still there to hear the sweet accolades instead of waiting until the honored guest had passed away. Bob had no doubt he was loved. He flew to Illinois the same day the moving truck came for his belongings. He didn’t have to see the For Sale sign being put in the front yard.  Bob passed away on September 26th of pneumonia, less than two months after he moved.

My life is so much better for having loved, learned from and laughed with Bob. May we all love our neighbors, love the Bobs in our life. 

Reflect:

  • Who is your Bob (neighbor)? Please comment.
  • Who can you love on a little more?

Renew:

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12:30, 31. NIV84

Recharge:

  • Name one neighbor or person you will intentionally reach out to as we approach this season of Thanksgiving. Perhaps it’s calling and taking a picnic basket to your older neighbor or a loved one in an assisted living facility. Perhaps it’s riding bicycles with some neighbors and their children. It takes just a few moments.
  • Please let me know what you decide to do.

Resource:

  • Robert “Bob” Anderson’s art legacy lives on. Please consider purchasing one of his beautiful “Charleston Orphan House” prints as a gift at the Shops of Historic Charleston Foundation, 108 Meeting Street in Charleston. (843) 724-8484.
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Comments

  1. onalee Avinger says:

    Love this!!! You are awesome my dear!!!

  2. The most difficult neighbors to love are the ones that are unpleasant. This is my reminder to love my neighbor as Jesus would. I choose to love my ex wife as Jesus does and pray for her heart to find peace. Thanks for this reminder!

    Travis

  3. AWWWW! B-O-B…Bob! You were so good to him!!

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