Sunday, January 18, 2009

Witch Doctor, Fount of All Wisdom, Uncle, Friend

For 30-plus years I have been friends with a remarkable, enjoyable, lovable curmudgeon. As a child he was the one who told us about all manner of mischief we longed to be part of (and I bet my brothers secretly were) like potato cannons and other somewhat dangerous fun. He told wild stories, all the while laughing like he could scarcely catch his breath. Initially friends with my parents, he was truly friends with us kids. He remembers episodes of my childhood that I can only recall in bits and pieces, explaning behaviors and memories I could not make heads or tails of.

I think he knew all our family secrets.

There wasn't much he didn't know. He had knowledge of aerospace, aeronautics, electrical engineering, rocket science, biology, chemistry, construction, medicine, etc., etc. We couldn't find anything he didn't know about. That is, until personal computers. Personal computers were a puzzle to him.

He was really into health and all the wacky stuff that goes along with it. Colloidal silver (sp?), some weird kind of foot bath that was supposed to remove toxins, this vitamin, that supplement, this juice drink, that special vitamin concoction special ordered, wheat grass, laetril, etc., etc. I took to ignoring the latest recommendation for healing every medical issue I had.

He spent so much time with us when I was growing up that the only way I could explain how close we were is to call him Uncle. How else to explain the guy who was at our family holiday meals, at church, went camping with us, and was so very special to us? It was an honorary title, but one he was willing to own. I know one time he had a surgical procedure at the VA hospital and brought me along as his "niece" so that they would let me visit him and make decisions for him if anything went wrong.

We were great friends, and I loved him.

The call came in this morning that Rob died. I had been planning to visit him this afternoon. I knew he was dying, but I am still devastated by the loss. How could I be prepared to lose such a wonderful friend?

Rob Harris, died January 18, 2009. Missed by many, many close friends and family. And me.

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