Why I'm here....

Since I've always been quick with an opinion an old friend once lost and again found suggested that perhaps I should share with more people my commentary. Never being one to pass on a challenge I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Laid to Rest: January 21, 2012

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life is bite my tongue.  It’s not in my nature and definitely not something my friends would characterize me for, but I did it today out of respect for two men.  One man still here and one man no longer with us, but both very deserving of respect.  I knew it would be hard.  I don’t say goodbye to those I love easily no matter how they may go.  I drove up to the church wondering what to expect, I half expect that is normal, as I walked up the walk way I felt light headed and a knot grew in the pit of my stomach.  A beautiful young girl, Rob’s Niece answered my walk by opening the door for me and welcoming me to his memorial.  Canvassing the room I found the faces that were familiar to me out of Rob’s family and saw a few tables that had flowers and pictures on them.  I decided to hang up my coat before greeting anyone.  As I was hanging up my coat a frail looking old man came towards me.  “Are you Sheila?”  He asked me.  Before he said it I knew exactly who he was from a photo I’d seen online.  “I’m Rob, Mikes dad, I mean I’m Rob’s dad.”  I replied by sticking out my hand and he grabbed me and hugged me.  I wasn’t at all certain how I felt about that but I didn’t pull away.  He thanked me again for all I had done for Rob and all I had done for Steve.  He then went on to say a child shouldn’t go first, who would have thought it.  I simply replied with as sickly as he was it had to be almost expected.  He again went on to talk to me about how badly Rob had not been taking his medications and how much medication he had in his apartment that he had to throw away.  His manor of saying it was almost accusatory as to say it was Rob’s fault he wasn’t here.  I saw no reason to inform him or correct him on the fact that doctors had asked Rob to stop taking some of the medications for a while so they could get him regulated again or to go from my own experience and say they often fill more than you need.  I have a ton of medications at home that would take me forever to take because the doctors order it in 30 day supplies yet have me taking it every other day.  You still fill it every month.  It accumulates.  I still found it an odd thing to think but dismissed it as possible unease due to the circumstances and perhaps even some lower level of guilt of his own on the way he had treated his son.  As soon as I walked away from him and back into the open room I was approached by Rob’s brother and given a hug and thanks for coming.  It was nice because it was sort of for a moment like Rob was there.  I feel the worst for Rob’s brother.  Those two genuinely loved each other with all their hearts.  I then looked over all the photos on the table and came across the box with Rob’s ashes in it.  For a moment my heart stopped as I looked down at the label that stated that inside this box are the remains of Robert M. Hogg.  I looked over the ribbons and his work badge and I signed the guest register then walked over and found a place to stand and wait.  Rob’s brother had told me that the family would be sitting on the right but that I could sit on that side with them or on the left with his dad and his dad’s wife.  I dismissed that out of my mind for a bit, finding it odd that they couldn’t put aside whatever differences for one day to all sit together as a family.  At this point a nice looking little old lady who I had noticed crying the whole time we were there came up to me and asked if I was Sheila.  It was Rob’s mom.  She hugged me.  I had been watching this woman and yes she was so wrong on so many levels for not having seen her son at Christmas and she was wrong for going all those years and not trying to add her son back into her life, but I couldn’t be angry at her.  The hurt and pain in her eyes was genuine.  I found myself liking her but still wishing she had talked with Rob before he died.  She said she hadn’t had the strength to look at the pictures and things on the table yet.  I simply told her “lets look at them together.”   I could have stood at that table forever because Rob’s ashes were there so somehow it was like he was there but I knew that would have been off.  After looking over the pictures and discussing them with his mom I excused myself to find the ladies room.  While in there I heard voices.  The one older woman was telling the younger one she appreciated her coming with her because she really didn’t want to be here.  I thought that an odd statement for anyone since no one liked being at memorials but it’s a respect issue and something you only do once for someone.  I was washing my hands when the ladies came out of their stalls.  The older one grabbed me and hugged me and said she was Rob’s step mom.  I said nice to meet you, pulled away and left immediately.  She looked exactly like I would have expected her to look.  The difference in the looks of the mom and the step mom were amazing.  The mom looked like a mom.  The step mom didn’t look like anyone I wanted to know, but I did know her for some reason.  I just can’t think of where I’ve seen her before yet but it will come to me I’m sure.  I walked into the chapel to take a seat and as I walked towards the alter there was a picture of Rob in uniform that made me start crying.  I  sat down three rows back on the right, behind where his family would be sitting.   Everyone was asked to stand and Scottish bagpipes started playing.  Rob’s brother carried the box with him in it down the isle and placed it on the table with his photo.  The speakers at Rob’s funeral were all men.  They were assembled from friends from his childhood, his brother and the minister.  They all told stories of childhood and playing games or of college times.  His brother told how Rob had wanted children but that at forty he had given up because he had never found the right woman, the one.  I knew that wasn’t right because Rob had told me Carrie was the one.  He thought about children with her but was afraid to have them because he was afraid they would be inflicted with his illness and he didn’t want to do that to a child.  Rob did love children very much.  He was hoping to be a part of a child's life that was just born to a woman friend of his back in late October or Early November.  It would have given him the time to be there for someone and nurture them which he loved to do as well.  I wonder if she knows he passed away or just thinks he abandoned the promise he made to be there for her.  I hope she would know he would never do that.  I cried a lot during those services for Rob.  I will miss him a lot.  I do miss him a lot.  He was a good friend who accepted me for who I was.  He accepted that friendship was what I had to offer and if more grew fine if it didn’t then we would still be there for each other.  Talking to several people though I realize Rob had deeper feelings for me than I knew, although I suspected.  I was told I had made his last few months happy and that he cherished time with me whether on the phone or computer or in person.  That made me smile.  At the end of the services Rob’s brother gave me a bag with the Net book I had let Rob borrow back in it, two pictures of Rob and I together and a card sighed with love from Sheila.  I wasn’t the Sheila who gave it to him.  Rob had told me about that Sheila.  He cared about her but wasn’t sure on some levels but she had hurt him.  They had filed for a marriage licence and they had a wedding date set but her mother didn’t like him.  He wondered what it was with mothers and why they didn’t like him.  My mother liked him just fine and said she was saddened by his death.  Her mother came between them and they broke up.  That had hurt Rob.  If she had loved him she would have chosen him.  I’m sure Rob’s brother had thought the card from me or he wouldn’t have given it to me.  The fact that Rob had held on to it meant it was special to him I believe.   The things I gave Rob were friendship and over the months of getting to know each other I had given him a colts bear and blanket for his birthday. Colts seat covers, a computer microphone, A Colts watch, a Star Trek book of remembrances and cologne.  Yes there was a theme.  Rob loved his Colts and he loved Star Trek.  It saddens me to think he’s not around to enjoy those things.  They are only material things though and it made me happy to see him smile when I gave them to him.  Rob didn’t smile much.  I was always telling him to smile.  I don’t think he felt well very often and I think he knew his time was winding down.  I just think he thought he had months to go, not days.  I have a lot of wonderful memories of him.  I still say he was a big kid in a grown mans body and that was part of the charm I loved about him.  He was so excited to show me Houston and Galveston.  That time will always be precious to me.  I can still see him grinning from ear to ear when I bought him a root beer float in Galveston when we stopped to take a breather and cool down.    That shop was fascinating and they had tons of old fashioned candies an ice creams, all of which of course Rob offered to buy me if I wanted but I knew money was tight and I didn’t need it so I bought him a float and myself an ice cream and we sat and enjoyed the break.    Rob also took me to see the gulf coast and we parked on the beach.  It was very windy that day and the waters were a little wild, but it was beautiful to see.  On that day we also went over to this aquarium to look at fish and sea lions.  Rob really seemed to be fascinated by these.  I noticed he had to sit and rest every little bit though.  It was hard for him I could tell and I know he probably pushed himself for me.    I learned a lot in those couple of days I spent with him.  He was lonely.  He missed Carrie and he missed his family but this is where his life was and where his work was. He was a proud man and he wanted to make it on his own.  I think he was courageous on so many levels.  I think a lot of people in the shape he was in with his heart would have been staying with someone or on disability and not trying to make it on their own.  I know it was hard for him.  He was looking forward to seeing his family but he so hoped his mom would see him.  He wanted to be welcomed into his dads home.  Neither of these really happened for him.  He stayed at the Days Inn off Washington when his dad and step mom had extra bedrooms.  I will never understand that one.  I only have one bedroom or I would have let him stay with me even though it would not have looked appropriate.  His mom never saw him.  His dad did please him by calling him out of the blue one morning and asking him to come over and they spent the day together.  I was all day cooking a special meal for Rob but he text and asked if I’d be hurt or upset if he stayed with his dad because he’d been invited to dinner.   He wanted to feel a part of his family so badly I could never have said I was even if I had of been.  Being with his dad was making him happy and being invited to dinner was an amazing thing to him.  I love that I got the time I did with him and I will cherish those memories.  It will haunt me forever though the memory of watching him drive away that morning on the 1st of January.  I heard from him all day.  He would give me updates on which airport and if it was on time.  He updated me when he landed in Houston and that he was awaiting a shuttle to take him home and he let me know when he got home and that he’d fed the boys.  His boys is what he called his cats.  It saddens me to think that at least two and maybe all three were put to sleep because that would have killed Rob.  So he’s been laid to rest at the foot of his great grandfathers grave in Goshen.  I wasn’t family so I wasn’t allowed to go to the grave site.  Another thing I think would have killed Rob but then it is what it is.  I have his “pig” collectibles that I will clean up and try to EBay for his brother.  One I’ll buy myself because he and I talked about it when I was in Houston and I found it amusing that a big guy like him would have a Miss Piggy on a Harley.  I have it on my desk at work, along with a picture of Rob and I and the paper from his funeral.   I know time will make things easier but for now it’s just hard not hearing from him and not being able to tell him about my day.  I suppose by writing this I am no really holding my tongue all that much, but I needed to write it down and get it out.  I needed to tell his story and mine.  I just know the hardest thing I ever did was say nothing when so many things went through my mind.  I’d rather have Rob back than any belongings.  I could sit through service with Satin sitting on my lap if it were for someone I loved.   I can’t imagine separating yourself out of old pettiness or worrying about what he did or didn’t do or what he did or did not leave to you.  Rob’s brother loved him.  After seeing his mother cry so hard and so much I believe she loved him although she should have told him.  His dad I have no clue.  I want to believe he did and on some levels I think he did but I’m not sure his son believed he did.  Hopefully he’ll do better by Rob’s brother over the years.  I will miss my friend Rob, but I will never forget him. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Life Can Change On A Dime - Rob Hogg

Life can change on a dime. It’s funny how a year can affect you so much more than any other year. Strange how a man can come into your life in such a whirl wind and leave in an even bigger one. Rob Hogg had definitely done that in my life. A chance he had said. I’m glad I took a chance and requested to be your friend. To tell you the truth I barely remember Rob from high school. He was two grades behind me and I didn’t particularly hold any nostalgia for the high school years. It wasn’t a happy time of my life. My grandmothers both passed away and I had my own demons I was fighting with an eating disorder. Teenagers often have eating issues. I was bone thin by the end of high school and still pretty much unhappy. I had an incorrect vision of what life should be. I say incorrect because it’s never really wrong. I mean what I expected was setup through unreal expectations that demons and evil didn’t exists and that one can find someone and live happily ever after. Rob became a very dear friend. He would yahoo message with me when he would get up and all through the evening till I went to bed. He would send me text messages and he would call nightly just to see how my day was. I told him when he asked if we could be more than friends I wasn’t sure. We live too far apart and at the time all I am feeling is friendship, but that I was willing to give it a try and get to know him. I did get to know him too and I loved him. He had become one of my best friends and always offered comfort and support. Could we have become more someday? I will never know. He and I spent hours playing Yahoo Spades and Euchre or listening to television shows together and laughing. I went out to see him back in the fall and he showed me Houston through his eyes. He also showed me Galveston. I think then I was charmed by him almost as much as he was by me. He was a big kid in a grown mans body. I had told him how much I love Road Runner, Bugs bunny, Tweety and all the old cartoons so he had made sure to buy some of those for me to watch. He took me to the Houston Zoo and insisted we see everything and that I have a souvenir to take back with me. He showed me the malls and the shopping and took me to get a view of the waters and coastline. He showed me where he worked and where all the good eating places were and he remembered everything about anything I had talked to him about food. He made sure we went for Chinese and sushi. All the time I was there he never pressured me to be more than a friend. He talked to me about Carrie the woman he’d loved and lost in 2006. He introduced me to his three cats that he loved more than life. Scotty was a long haired grey tabby who pretty much was love me or leave me type of fellow. There was BC who had a scared ear that turned back on the corner but really wanted nothing to do with anyone except Rob. BC was really named Butter cup, but had been named that before they figured out he was a boy so Rob respectfully called him BC. Then there was Rupert. Rupert was half the age of the other two, but twice their size and was a domestic short hair black and white. I loved that cat. He had so much personality. I told Rob I would have taken him in a heartbeat. He told me how Rupert was Carriers Cat. Carrie had wanted one of her own and Rob being the big teddy bear that he was couldn’t deny her. Sadly Carrie died while Rupert was still a kitten. He told me of how hard it had been going to work that night and kissing Carrie and telling her he’d see her in the morning, only to come home and find her sitting in the same place cold as ice. His living room didn’t looked like he’d moved a thing or used it at all since she had left him. During that time he told me all about his family. His estranged mother although he wished she were in his life and he loved her he wouldn’t force her to be where she didn’t want to be. He told me of the dad he wished would be proud of him, but that he also loved. He mostly told me of his brother and his brothers family. He so wanted what his brother had. What he saw when he looked at them was love and family the way he thought it should be. His brother and his brothers wife’s relationship and even their kids which Rob loved each and everyone with all his heart. He knew it wasn't perfect because no family or relationship is, but of all things I would never doubt it’s that Rob would have given his life and all he owned for his brother and his brothers family. I loved my couple of days out in Houston with Rob. He was getting healthy or appeared to be and seemed to do well. He looked good and his skin was warm the way it should be to the touch. He had taken a bad spell just a month before I was out there and had spent a week in the hospital but he seemed to be getting past that. He was also so looking forward to seeing the family over the holidays. He was coming for 9 days from the 21st of December to the 1st of January and he wanted to experience all of his family he could while he was in Fort Wayne. He sounded happy and I was happy for him. Rob ran into some bad luck before coming to Fort Wayne for the holidays. His place was robbed and he missed several days of work. Along with this he went to get his license renewed and couldn’t until he got glasses which cut into his funds for his travels. He started stressing and talked to me about it. His plans were all made and there was no way of getting refunds for the trip since it was too late, but he didn’t want to anyway because he needed to see his family. It was what had kept him going for months. I assured him I would feed him while he was here and help in any way I could. Work also stressed him out as the “dragon lady” at his job had it out for him and started making a big deal about his missing work and paper work all of which wasn’t his fault. I mean who plans to get robbed? I assured him though that it would all work out and talked him into trying to enjoy his trip and not stress so much. When he arrived at my house in Fort Wayne he looked very pale and tired to me. He said it was from all the work and stress he had been under. I told him he needed to relax. He smiled and said he would try and take my advice and not worry. He and I set about getting the week all planned. Of the things we had lined out he had a day with his dad and his dads wife, a family dinner with my family and with his brother and her wife, a game day that he couldn’t wait for (tradition), a night with old friends at a friends bar and grille and a New Years party with me at my friend Joe’s house to ring in the new year. Everything else we would do on a whim or as it came. While he was here we had a great time. We went to the mall and a book store. We saw a movie and watched television. I didn’t know people were still mining for gold, but I guess I do now. I made him my infamous Pizza Casserole which he ate on three different nights while he was here. (I did offer to make him other stuff, it’s what he wanted) I made him cookies and cooked a roast. All the while him watching or offering to help and talking about his life or asking questions about mine. I learned a lot, but what I learned more than anything is that although Rob’s life had dealt him a lot of tough blows, he had never once allowed them to beat him down. He was working on a degree online to accompany the one he all ready had. He had plans and dreams and hopes. He talked about how he would love to work on a cruise ship some day and told me he was going to hold me to my promise that I would go on a cruise with him next year if he could manage to get us on one. He would often take my hand or touch my cheek with the back of his hand. This time his skin wasn’t warm. Most often his skin was cold and moist. He sweated a lot and he looked so tired and frail to me. I worried about him. I told him I did but he would have none of it. He just kept telling me he was fine. He talked more about funds. The trip would hit him hard financially but he would bounce back he said. He laughed and said one never knew if it would be their last so they had to take the opportunity to see family when they could. He wanted to come back in June, but didn’t know if he would be able to make it or not. Rob had wanted to go see the lights at the zoo, but somehow we never made it down there. I told him next year, now he won’t be with us next year to see them. You see life can change on a dime. Wednesday, January 4Th I had my last conversation with Rob. He text me as he always did and asked if I was home yet from work, then he called me. We talked for about 45 minutes. He was stressing out really bad. Work had sent him to a new site and he wasn’t sure if his ¾ of a tank of gas would last him until the 17Th because it was a lot farther away. His Internet wasn’t connected yet and he needed to get school work done and he had an argument with his dad. He was wound tight I could tell. I talked and talked to him though and told him that it will all work out. He was laughing when we hung up and said I was right, he knew I was that it would all work.out. He told me he was going to take a nap. He had to be to work at 10, which is 11 my time so he had a little time. He told me “I’ll call you tomorrow baby and let you know how it went. Kisses n hugs.” As I went to bed that night as always I included him in my prayers when I went to bed. The Lord probably gets tired listening because I always include everyone I think needs it and all those I love. It takes a little time but I say them nightly. It’s hard not to be angry on some level because I asked the Lord to watch over him. I guess I didn’t include a “don’t” let him die in that statement, but I thought it was self explanatory. The Lord has his own reasoning for taking Rob from us though it may be hard for us all to understand. Perhaps he knew Rob’s journey had been hard and he needed rest. Perhaps he knew Rob really needed to be with Carrie again. I’m not really sure what the reason. I just know when I was awakened by the phone ringing at 1:45A.M. on Thursday morning I wasn’t prepared for what the call entailed. It was Rob’s number. I almost didn’t answer. I thought I would just call him back in the morning but then I thought he knows I’m asleep so why is he calling. A million things went through my mind. He might be in the hospital again or maybe he was fired or in an accident, so I answered the phone. The woman on the other end of the line said “Hi, this is Candace and I have Rob’s cell phone. I’m his boss.” She kind of stopped there. I asked her why she had Rob’s phone. She goes who are you in relation to Rob. I thought it a prank at this point. I wasn’t sure what to think. I said I’m a friend he came to see over the holidays along with his dad and brother and again I asked why she had Rob’s cell phone. She goes well I hate to tell you this but Rob collapsed at work tonight and was taken to (she named some hospital off). I sighed a little because I thought taken to the hospital OK. Then she says I’m so sorry to tell you that they are saying he’s clinically dead. I think my own heart stopped for a moment at that point. I remember saying “What?” I remember asking her if she was sure and she said well I’m on my way to the hospital now to confirm it. Little did I know this was the Bi*** that had given Rob so much grief or our conversation might have gone so much worse that it did. She then asked me about his family and I told her I would call Rob’s brother and have him call her. It took me several tries to get his brother to answer, but he was just as shocked as I was when he answered the phone. About an hour after that I called Candace back. I told her someone would have to take care of Rob’s cats that they would need fed and she assured me she would take care of it. I very shakily through my tears asked her if she had confirmed Rob was dead and she said sadly yes he was and that she was so sorry for my loss and that if I needed anything to let her know. People always say that and although it’s kind what could one possibly need? Comfort I suppose. I suppose you could need someone to listen maybe too. I had family and friends for that though. I let a few of Rob’s friends I knew were awake know by calling or texting. I put a message out on Face book. I was numb. I was in a state of shock and disbelieve. He couldn’t be dead. He had just been here and he promised to call me tomorrow. He also bet me on every single game IU had this season. So far I had only lost once. He was suppose to come back to see me again. He couldn’t be gone. Suddenly he was everywhere in my house. I could see him sitting in the chair or helping himself to a water out of my refrigerator. I could see him at the sink drying dishes although I told him to sit down and relax. I could hear his words of encouragement that my test would come back OK in April and if they didn’t he was here for me. I was confused and lost at that moment. Rob was good for me and my ego you could say. He continually told me how beautiful I was and how any man who could not see my inner and outer beauty was an idiot. I’d tell him I need to lose weight and he’d say “you’re perfect just the way you are baby.” He was always there to make me smile no matter how bad my day was and no matter how I might worry about him he assured me he was more concerned for me. It isn’t fair to me. You see life can turn on a dime. He should still be here. He should be happy and smiling and healthy. He had a heart of gold and he will be missed so much by so many. I’m still having trouble adjusting to the idea of him never calling me again. Life can turn on a dime so don’t take one minute for granted. Rest in Peace Rob and know you will never be forgotten. I thank God I got to know you as well as I did. I don’t forget those who touch my heart even briefly. You will be thought of daily and held in my heart where you belong.