Many of you know Bob Smith – somehow it has been 7 years since he passed away – If you didn’t know him he was a great and dear friend and I miss him….
I had the honor of speaking at his funeral and I thought I would share my comments from that today in memory of him and in hopes that even now God can use his death for your good.
“I want to thank DiAnna for the opportunity to speak today, though I’d rather be doing almost anything else rather than speaking at the funeral for my dear friend Bob Smith. Two weeks ago I was in the Tri-Cities with Bob doing our regular bargain shopping trip and if you had told me then that I would not see him again – that he’d be gone 4 days later – I could not have imagined it. When DiAnna called me Thanksgiving morning with the news, I accused her of joking with me for 5 minutes before she finally convinced me that she wasn’t. The realization brought me to my knees. I was telling my wife, Christie, that I had imagined losing her or losing my parents and what that would feel like – but I just never thought of losing Bob. He was so full of life – wasn’t he? How can Bob be gone?
In speaking today I have a couple of purposes. Those of you here today are here because in some way Bob’s life touched yours – and this is an unexpected and shocking loss. You’re grieving. We’re grieving… And I want to be with people who knew and loved Bob – I want to mourn his loss with you and celebrate his life. I want to honor and pay my respects to this man whom we all valued for all that he was. Many of you have posted your comments and memories about Bob on Facebook. My wife and I wept together as we watched so many of you change your profile picture to a picture of Bob. Thank you for sharing – there is great comfort in grieving and remembering together. So for the next few moments I hope you are comforted as I share some of my memories about Bob.
Taking stock of a life and trying to summarize its significance and meaning – I’ve discovered the last few days – is not an easy thing to do. How do you measure a man? How do you express how all the little mundane routine things of life measured up to something huge – to something precious and valuable? Life just happens – relentlessly the days pass and rarely do we try to take stock of what it all means – we are just living.
I remember when I moved to Moses Lake about 6 years ago, remarking or really complaining to my wife that I had no friends. Not close ones. I knew and enjoyed lots of people but not anyone who really knew me well – and still liked me anyway. I met Bob my first week working at Genie – in the materials department. David Dyer was our supervisor and needed volunteers for an overtime Saturday project – I volunteered because I needed the money and Bob volunteered … well because Bob was crazy about overtime. I remember a few weeks into Genie David asked Bob and me again if we would work overtime – Bob of course immediately said yes and Dave turned to me and I hesitated. I was like “I’ve just worked a 55 hour week I really don’t want to come in tomorrow” and was about to voice that sentiment when Bob, sensing what I was about to say, interjected with – “Oh yeah Ken will be there too – Come on Ken it will be fun.” As if cleaning up outside the high bays at Genie was the best thing he could think of doing on a Saturday. As soon as Dave left, Bob scolded me. “You looked like you were going to say ‘No’ you can’t do that. It is a good thing I was here to save you.” Ummm….. Thanks Bob….
But on that first Saturday project it was fun, and while I didn’t know it at the time I was finding the friend I was longing for. Bob struck me at the time as smart and likable as we discussed money management and investing, which was to have a major impact on my life. But he also struck me as more than a little eccentric. I mean who has 200 jars of peanut butter? And I’d never seen anyone get so excited about 99 cent cheese. Who pours cayenne pepper in their eyes – on purpose anyway?
Very early on Bob invited me and my family over for dinner. My wife asked me about him and I said…. “Well, he’s this outrageous, crazy guy who says some things that are a little shocking, but you know they invited us so… It’ll be okay. And it was okay. And then he invited us over again the next week. Which we thought was strange, but we went again. Then he invited us over again and we saw a pattern developing and decided we better have them over. I had said I wanted a friend – a close friend – but I hadn’t ever considered how that happened. Bob taught me that friendship – deep friendship rather than casual – involves investing time in each other. It is not our cultural norm to be in each other’s homes on a very regular basis. Home is our retreat – the world stays out and when someone breaks that barrier we often think of it as an intrusion. Bob taught me that deep friendships are formed when we let people into our personal spaces and by investing time in each other’s lives.
And he invested in many of your lives as well. Tom Cox, Bob and I made 150 pounds of Thai food over the course of 2 days – Making vanilla will Dan Delano – going to the movies with John Gamble – he spent a lot of time with several of you in weight training. And Bob appreciated each of you. Even though I have been gone from Genie for over 2 years, it is almost as if I never left because Bob kept me up to date on everything going on. If I could replay all the things Bob has said to me about you over the years I know you would feel how much he appreciated you. I can’t mention all of you, but I do want to say specifically to Tom Cox how much he appreciated your friendship and partnership at work. He really cared for you and respected you. I know he would have trusted you to fill his shoes as difficult as that must be for you. And Bob Rogers I don’t know you like I know Tom, but I feel like I’ve got to know you through Bob. He very much appreciated, enjoyed and respected you and your leadership as his boss. Each of you made an impact with Bob as he made one with you.
Bob had a great sense of humor and lighting quick wit, and if you didn’t get offended you never laughed so much as when you were with Bob. I’m sure everyone in here has a Bob story. Some of my favorites include the ball-kicking story, the Ben-Gay story–yes I know about that–the raisin story (which is really my story but Bob made it funny and made me tell it to every person at Genie) , the theater story – and over time we can share each of our stories with each other in memory of Bob. I want to share one story about Bob that seems to capture his way with people. Bob could say things to people that if I said them they would take me outside and beat the heck out of me. I think Bob could get away with it because he always said things without malice. So around Christmas time Bob made me go to Walmart with him to look for deals. I really didn’t want to go to Walmart and who does around Christmas time, but I went. And it was packed with people and I found myself getting increasingly irritated. As we were walking down the candy aisle the lady in front of me stopped and there was no way to get around her since the aisle was so crowded. Then the guy behind me rudely said “why don’t you guys get out of the way – your blocking my path.” As if we could just magically move out of his way. I was about to tell this guy exactly what he could go do with himself when Bob grabbed the front of my shirt and ducked down in front of me hiding his face and said, “Ken hide me from the mean man. Where’s your Christmas spirit Sir? Ma’am is that your husband? Is he a jerk?” I hung my head in embarrassment and tried to hide myself. But you can probably guess what the “mean man” did… he laughed. No way in a million I could have pulled that off, even if I wanted to. But Bob could lighten the mood and confront the issue without being angry. He understood and accepted that people are not perfect and was somehow able to sympathize with their frustration. On my last trip with Bob last Friday, my van was filled and overflowing with over $1000 of groceries and guy just pulled out right in front of me and made a U-turn. I had to slam on the brakes and I was instantly angry. As the guy passed us he knocked on his head saying “sorry my bad.” My attitude was like “Yeah – your bad” but Bob leans OVER MY SEAT and waves at the guy and says “no problem, it’s okay” with a huge smile. It was not fake – it came out of him spontaneously. I wish I had more time with him just to have that trait rub off on me.
Bob was unusually genuine. Most people have a least some level of façade they are maintaining. But with Bob, he was pretty much what you saw. Bob told me he only got drunk one time, but he wasn’t any less inhibited – he stayed exactly the same.
There are a lot of traits you could list about Bob – hard-working, funny, smart, family man, loyal, easily delighted, enthusiastic, extroverted, faithful, but I think the one that will stick with me the most was his ability to encourage me and make me feel valuable. When I was feeling down after being laid off at Genie, Bob was constantly calling me to check on how I was doing. And even in my new position at Bank of America I have at times felt overwhelmed, but Bob just consistently encouraged me to hang in there and gave great advice on dealing with obstacles there.
There is one other part of Bob I cannot help but share – I know he would want me to. As you know Bob had a blunt way of speaking at times. Not necessarily polished. And I think if he were able to tell me he would say “don’t pull any punches here, Ken – I want my friends to hear this.” So as much as I can I want to honor how I think Bob would like this said… Death is not just a realty for Bob. Every single one of us in this room will die. The Bible says “It is appointed to all men once to die and afterwards to face the judgment.” That is a stark reality. There is no escaping it as much as we might like to. And to add insult to injury the manner and timing of our inevitable deaths is an unknown. It could be in an instant and while we are young like Bob. We could be old and senile. It could be cancer or an accident. We don’t know. The manner of Bob’s death and his youth should make us think about our own mortality and what we will say to God at that judgment.
Bob was not a particularly religious man. In fact he bore some severe scars from religion. Bob also knew he wasn’t perfect and despite the honor we are rightfully giving him for the life he lived, I think we call all agree that he had his flaws. And so do each of us. “Flaws” is not blunt enough – failures – sin – evil. When Bob stood before God on Thanksgiving Day I guarantee he did not walk up to God and say, “Hey, let me in – I never did a thing wrong – I am perfect.” Nor did he say “Well I did my best God and I think if you weigh the good things I have done against the bad things I have done – it should come out ok.” Now that is what is commonly believed. And that may be true in comparison to other people, however that answer – “I was a good person” – the Bible says will get you sent straight to Hell. Bob made me say it. And I long for you to hear it and receive it.
Jesus said “I did not come for the righteous (the people who think they are good), I came to bring sinners to repentance.” He said, “I did not come for those who don’t need a doctor, I came for the sick.” So please stop thinking you are going to make it to heaven because you are good – you aren’t good enough and if you think you are Jesus says “I didn’t come for you.” When Bob stood before God on Thanksgiving, his answer to why he should be in heaven was – GRACE. Grace…. Grace is when you are given something you don’t deserve. And grace was poured out for you on the cross two thousand years ago when Jesus who was God came down from heaven as a man and poured out his life’s blood that you might be forgiven. It is HIS perfection – not yours that qualifies you for heaven. If you will humble yourself enough to confess your sin and your need of grace. The Father is waiting with open arms to receive you, just as he received Bob here on this earth and in heaven 9 days ago. It doesn’t matter how bad you have been – Where your sin is great, his grace overflows cleansing you of all impurity. Only by receiving that grace can a man as imperfect as Bob or as sinful as me stand in the presence of God – accepted and forgiven. I hope that you will not let his opportunity of Bob’s death and the truth of this message be lost or forgotten. I would be happy to talk to you anytime if you have more questions or want to pray.
In conclusion I would like to talk to Bob’s family. To DiAnna’s parents – God put your daughter with you for perhaps the most difficult thing she has faced. God certainly knew Bob would die and he prepared your home and your hearts to comfort DiAnna though this time. To Bob’s Mom and Steve – I am very grateful to have come to know you through the trips over to Seattle that we made. I know think were rough for a while especially after Bob’s dad died, but I know that Bob loved you and he knew you loved him. Thank you for your words to me yesterday on what I meant to Bob. I will miss him for the rest of my life.
Mercedes, Alexis and Jag – Thanks for sharing your Dad with me – he was a great man and a treasured friend and I hope I can help as much as possible with his loss. It is okay to cry and to grieve and you miss him always. He loved each of you very much and he always wanted to show you that. Remember him coming to your soccer games and the gifts he gave you and the one on one time you got to spend with him this year. It meant a lot to him.
DiAnna – Bob was so excited about the marriage group he was in with you this year. He talked about it all the time. He even skipped movie night with me to be at it. Bob met his match in you. And you met your match in him. I know you will grieve this loss for a long time to come and no matter how long we live there will be a scar. But I know we both would say that as painful as this time is – the loss would have been greater if we had never known Bob. Please lean on us. Bob’s friends are your friends. And we are here for you in whatever way we can help.
And to Bob – Can’t wait to see you again Buddy.”
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