I don't remember him making me laugh in pictures taken when I was six month old.  But I can see his face off to the side in one poorly taken shot and I've heard the stories of how my brother took his shoes off and wiggled his toes to produce a smile.

I don't remember him sneaking into the nursery in a Battlecreek MI orphanage and taking me from my crib.  I heard that story all my life too.  Thank goodness the police found us - it was January and though he had thought to cover me with a blanket, we'd have surely frozen to death.  We were separated for a couple of years after that. 

What I do remember is his first job setting pins in a bowling alley and using his money to buy our mother a sewing machine.  I remember him setting the stairs on fire with a chemistry set.  I remember him bringing home paper dolls for me and hiding them - giving me clues in order to search them out because I needed to know how to solve problems.  I remember him walking to me to kindergarten for several weeks and then teaching me how to find my own way home because no one should ever rely on someone else to do for them what they can do for theirself. 

I remember him brushing my hair and putting it into a ponytail and making sure I was cleaned up before our mother came home from work.  He was fourteen and I was seven.

He taught me how to box so I could protect myself... taught me so well that I knocked unconscious a friend of his when I was eight.  He taught me early that physical pain was nothing but a thing and crying wasn't gonna help.  He taught me that I needed to DO something when things were wrong - something to make it right. 

I remember when during times of total chaos in our house and adults would forget to even feed my sister and I, him bringing home hamburgers from local diner to make sure we ate.  He would usually leave the house during these times and stay somewhere but he always made sure Faith and I ate.

I remember him teaching me to use my head and to think.  He would tell me fantastic stories and, being my big brother, I believed every word he uttered.  He would tell me to use my head, that it was not possible to light a match under water like he said he did in order to go swimming when the ponds were covered in ice. 

I remember when he joined the Army and his first time home on leave.  Thirteen months later, I remember getting to wear my first hose to the airport to pick him up after returning from Vietnam.    I remember him scaring the heck out of me when our mother, not wanting to disturb him and his wife on the night he returned from Veitnam the second time, had me sneak a note up to their front door.  From upstairs in his room he had heard a car stop and footsteps on the porch.  He flung the door open and I probably got my first gray hair that night at age 14. 

I remember the utter panic just two years later when his foot locker showed up on our front doorstep and marked "Personal Effects".    He had lost his leg on his third tour in Vietnam when another man in his team stepped on a landmine. He had tried to prevent it from detonating by placing his own weight on the cover.  I remember reading the articles about how he sent three other injured soldiers off in the chopper while he stayed behind and tied off his own artery.  Pain is nothing but a thing.  We had to track him down that day that the footlocker arrived.  He had been in a hospital in Japan for more than 30 days and was being med-evacked to Walter Reed.  He hadn't wanted to worry our mother.

I remember how he had to fight to stay in the Army and the huge write up when he became one of only two amputees to remain on active duty.  The article describes his grin.  I guess that's where his son, Darrell got his smile from.  I also remember when he all but lost his other leg testing a new square parachute.  It should have been removed at the time but he didn't want to be in a wheelchair.  That decision left him in constant pain for the rest of his life.  Pain is nothing but a thing.  He did have to retire from military service this time.

I remember him coaching youth football and softball in the years after that.  He believed and taught all of us that it is important to give back to your country and community.

I remember all of us seeing that he was happier than he had ever been in his life when he married Joyce.  Happier is perhaps not the right word.  He was always happy and smiling, making wisecracks.  At peace is perhaps a better description.  He had someone who loved him and who he loved with all his heart.  That was the difference.

I remember the pain on his face as he claimed the body of his youngest son.  Ronnie was 21 when he died.

I remember him trying to teach his first grandchild, Jake, to call him GRANDFATHER.  Jake would reply "Bob".  This went on for many minutes until he gave up and to this day all 13 of his grandchildren call him Bob-O. 

Lots of memories. His love of dogs, his brotherhood with his fellow soldiers, him showing off his scar from open heart surgery a few years back. Him making fun of his self when he had a stroke a couple of years ago.  How he always called our mother on her birthday while she was alive no matter where in the world he was, including Vietnam.    My surprise when reading on the History Channel's web site section on Vietnam that my brother had provided much of the information. 

My most recent memories are his incredible pain when his son Darrell died in Iraq last November.  His overwhelming pride in the respect his son commanded amongst his fellow Marines. His courage in supporting Darrell's wife, making sure he was there for her and Darrell's children. 

Most recently, the wedding. Lynda stopping beside him on her way up the aisle to show off her pedicure.  Feet are important when you have no foot on one side and a messed up one on the other. 

And I remember that last hug as he left the reception.  That last exchange of  " I love you Sister" and " I love you, Brother. 

Roy passed away last night driving home from P Company, 75th Ranger Regiment Reunion. 

I will never forget. 

~ Elaine ~ 


Previous In Memory Page In Memory List Next In memory Page