Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Friends Are Forever

shelled and unshelled pecans
shelled and unshelled pecans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's fall and the pecans are ready. In the fall we always make a trip to visit my friend Bob who sells the best pecans in Texas. My daughters and I had already mentioned going to his place to get some for pies and cakes and cookies. But on Monday morning I got a call that he died when his house burned down.

Mary went to the funeral with me. His children were wonderful. The two boys looked like him. The girls were beautiful and gracious, and there were grandchildren I knew nothing about. He did leave a legacy.

There were pictures that recalled his lanky frame and open smile. A picture of Bob reminded me of his warm hug and honest challenge. 

We were coworkers in the prison system for 10 years. In that harsh and unforgiving system, we formed strong bonds of friendship. I think of him among his pecan trees always assessing their needs, evaluating whether he needed to spray or add fertilizer.

Bob would pick up a handful and describe the characteristics of the variety--round and full, or long and rich with oil. 

He was often disparaging about pecans in the grocery story. He always reminded me that they were at least 2 years old and the quality did not approach the ones he sold.

At his funeral there was a floral arrangement before the casket beside a bushel of pecans.

At work he was always challenging with inmates. We ran some  counseling groups together. I found that I was usually under Bob's scrutiny in that environment too, but that sword cuts both ways. I learned a lot about him in group, but I also learned from his techniques and approach.

His office was the last one at the end of the hall. If I went to consult him about something, he would be curled like a paper clip in the desk chair with one foot in the top drawer devouring his daily dose of John B. Watson or B.F. Skinner. He was an avid behaviorist. It worked too, except for all the emotions and thinking that went on in the human being, behaviorism worked. Skinner and Watson didn't know what to do with emotions, and Bob wanted to explore them.

I'll miss Bob, and I'll remember.

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