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The measure of a man...

“The true measure of a man is not his intelligence or how high he rises in this freak establishment.

No, the true measure of a man is this: how quickly can he respond to the needs of others and how much of himself he can give.”

– Philip K. Dick

Success...

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

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Finding Bobby - Incident and Aftermath.


by Ignatius F. Makarevich

I had come home from work as a mechanic, as usual, and was sitting with my dad in the dining area. We’d probably just eaten, the events immediately prior are cloudy, so, I’m not positive. I was waiting the couple of hours to go to my second job pumping gas.

I remember starting to think about Bobby, my cousin, who was about 50 years old, single, a loner. He’d been around all my life. He had only a few close friends, and was a nice, righteous fellow. I’d been treating him badly, teasing him. I felt bad about it.

He’d had a tough time of it, his parents died when he was very young and he was raised by my mom’s family. Due to the influences of his time, he fancied himself a Texas cowboy, and he had actually achieved this, albeit partially. I had always felt that was silly, having been influenced by the surroundings of Fairfield County in my time.

Bobby had been living in the downstairs apartment in my house, making his living in landscaping and handyman projects. He had suffered a major back injury and was in pain a lot of the time. I’d always felt strongly that his doctors hadn’t properly served him. He had recently been having a lot of trouble with his pain medications, real heavy duty stuff. He’d become addicted, and there had even been a frightening episode wherein he had been behaving as if a zombie hearing voices. It wasn’t a self sufficient flat, but it wasn’t unusual to not see him for a couple of days. This time was different in an intangible way. I mentioned to dad that I was concerned about not having seen or heard Bob, and he concurred.

With a sense of urgency, we went downstairs to visit. I knocked and called out, “Bobby … Bobby” No answer came from within. I went to open the door, and was even more scared then, as it would not budge. I pushed again and again. Since this door did not have a lock on it, my fear increased exponentially, blooming like a time lapsed flower. I said, “Dad, it won’t open … !” We looked at each other with a worried gaze. And then I led us back upstairs to retrieve our key and then out and around to the back of the house to his door.   It was dark, and cold, which only added to the urgency of slipping the key in and turning the handle.

The door opened and it was dark. There was light coming in from the door. I stepped in and stopped dead in my tracks. There before me, knelt Bobby, holding on to the sink that was there, up against the other door, his head back and a horrific expression on his face. It was so clear that he was dead, and in fact had been so for at least a while. I had never seen a dead person before. And here … was someone I loved. Everything looked odd and extremely graphic. I stood and stared, believing yet not believing what was before me. My dad was also in shock. Thoughts streamed through my mind, all of them unpleasant … what had happened? Was it the drugs? Or could it be the kerosene heater? Did thugs come and kill him?

We rushed upstairs after what seemed an eternity, and I called 9-1-1. “I think my cousin is dead,” I told the operator. We sat anxiously, and in a few minutes the police arrived in force with an ambulance. We went out to lead them around to the scene. My dad and I were then questioned separately alongside the flurry of policemen and medical people in the room going about their tasks. The room and people still looked odd and weirdly lit. I really cannot remember the questions that they asked. I do remember them carrying Bobby away in a body bag and later on asking if I could go to work. I did and the chief of police, who’d been on-scene, came and asked me more questions. I asked him if he thought people had done this. He said he didn’t think so. One minor fear lifted, but it did nothing to allay my confusion and horror. There’s not much involved in pumping gas, but I’m sure I was on automatic pilot, as the time at work remains shrouded in a cloud. I remember going home and sitting around, the image of Bobby ingrained front and center.

I couldn’t get over how such a thing could’ve happened unnoticed by myself, and dad, or Bob’s friends. Thoughts flew around my brain until I was exhausted. They included memories of Bobby; memories of times spent with him, times that taught me a lot; recent times. I started to beat myself up about my aloof attitude, that I’d in effect abandoned him at his worst hour. I went to bed but they continued unabated. I could not calm my mind and actually wound up sleeping in dad’s bed, curled up like a scared little kid behind him.

The days that followed were calmer, but still filled with more of the same thoughts. I was somehow able to suppress my last image of Bobby, most of the time, and that made things a lot easier.

I thought in the days, months and years that followed, of the many things Bobby and I had done, the most memorable being a road trip to Texas when I was quite young. I gleaned a lot from the drive, seeing all the different environments that people live in, and the surprising diversity of lifestyle that is America. I remember most of all my astonishment at realizing, after a short while, that what I thought were rubble piles and long-abandoned sheds in the mountains of Appalachia, were in fact people’s homes. Believing that this was “America” was a stretch, and yet, there it was. That revelation alone was worth the trip.

I was never as enamored of Bobby’s cowboy dreams as he was, but I was able to relate. I did like his demeanor and his independence, and I remember that when I was a young lad I used to want to be like Bobby when I grew up. Since picking this topic for the class, renewed thoughts about the incident have revealed that in many ways, I have.

I’ve learned that it’s very important to keep in touch with family and friends, to keep an eye out for troubles, and to offer help when opportunity presents itself. The feeling that I had not done these things well in the past calls up an expansive disappointment, that I missed out on the knowledge, wisdom and friendship of this man. It is a vacuum, and there’s not much in our experience that is worse, in the big picture of life. In the case of Bobby, the vacuum is a small part of the whole, but it would contain perhaps the most valuable energies, and the sad fact is that it can never be filled. There is another whole experience with another person where the vacuum is very large, but that speech would no doubt be unrenderable at my current state of development.

Do you remember as a young child desperately not wanting to go to bed, using your arsenal of excuses and tricks to stay up, because you might miss something important? Well, in the way I view the way the universe works, it’s just like that, and if any of the experiences have vacuums, then, you really did miss something. Cases where the vacuum can be filled are exceedingly rare, if they exist at all.

This experience initiated in my mind the conditions necessary to begin mending my troubled ways. Although it took a couple of more years to get it mostly right, it was an extreme enough wake up call for me to really take notice of what I had been turning into, and the realization that that wasn’t proper. The gears started turning then, and they continue to do so.

A positive result of the practice of keeping an eye on things was my dad telling me my visit on the day of his triple bypass made a tremendous influence in his recovery. It is a much better way to be.

I often wonder why people, or at least myself, need to have such an example of abject horror in order to make a change in course, but, that too is another speech.