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D L Johnson

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Dismantling Bob
By D L Johnson   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, August 02, 2007
Posted: Thursday, August 02, 2007

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About a friend from many years ago. dlj

Dismantling Bob
© 2007
Dan Johnson

Bobby Mercer was a friend of mine,
This goes back to 1978 or was it 1979.
He was tall, tanned and strong,  
His wife’s name was Judy Long
They had two little children, 
Nothing, absolutely nothing could go wrong,
until that fateful day…

The day that cancer began dismantling Bob.

Bob was 6’ 3” 254 pounds and except for the tumor behind
His left eye, he was full of life, one heck of a guy. We talked about many things; his life, his kids and his wife.

One day after treatment Bobby said to me, “What did I do
wrong?” I stuttered and stammered, as I often do and
could not say a word, anyway words that would matter.

“Don’t worry, doesn’t matter” he said, while smiling.

The preacher came by and was pleasant kind and full of hope,
poor guy didn’t realize, it wasn’t his life coming to the end of
the rope, but he did pray.

Three months later, in the early spring, word came to me that
the cancer spread…to the other eye.

His weight had dropped to 178; his height put him at a shattering 5’ 9” he was shrinking and there was nothing I could do.

I was a witness to the dismantling of a man, slowly slipping off to a better place.

Six months later a call to my office; “Better come now, Bob is asking for you.” What I saw on that day remains embossed in my memory and won’t go away.

There he laid on that hospital bed, hair gone wild, eyes of expectation, smile on his face, with the assurance, saying, don’t worry ‘bout me, I’ll be fine.
His voice all but gone could make gurgling sounds, no words. He motioned for me to help him sit up straight and as I lifted his body it struck me immediately as to how little there was left of my friend.

Lifting Bob was like shifting a 50 pound sack of feed. I held the glass, so he could sip the straw and asked him if he wanted more, he shook his head saying no.

Bob had two books on his table; a bible from the preacher and “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman. He pointed to Walt’s book. I read for a while, then I noticed a peaceful satisfied smile on his face.

The nurse said “He should sleep now” I left. 

The next day, another phone call; Bob died in the middle of the night

Rendered to a diminutive piece of humanity, I knew inside that it mattered not about his size and stature, just because cancer caused the dismantling of Bob, he would always be a bigger man that I could ever hope to be.

Dan Johnson
(c) 2007

Reader Reviews for "Dismantling Bob"

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Reviewed by Michael Guy 8/30/2007
Wow you really put the intensity and humanity of this experience of your friend's passing in such powerfully concise words! It was the first thing I read on your page because I was curious about the title.
The most powerful image for me was when you mention, that he had a copy of the Bible and Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" at his bedside. Strange, as when young I read a ton of Whitman's Leaves... so few today probably bother. I wonder what Bob was deriving from it and what the last poem he read was? Thanks for putting in words this story.
michael guy
Reviewed by Kathryn Collins 8/5/2007
Dear Dan,

All I can do is cry. So many Bob's (my husband) bigger than there physical wasting. I am sorry for you friend and those he leaves behind.

Reviewed by Jennifer Butler 8/3/2007
My dad was a big man too. They couldn't shrink him so they shot him .
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 8/3/2007
he would always be a bigger man that I could ever hope to be.

And those are the ones hardest to let go, Dan. Bob sounds like he was a wonderful friend and human being.
Reviewed by D Johnson 8/2/2007
Victor, thank you for reading and I do not find your question strange at all. I would ask that you see my blog for today regarding this write.

Reviewed by Victor Buhagiar (Reader) 8/2/2007
But he did nothing wrong. We all have to die. There a million ways of dying, but it is not our choice how we die unless it's a suicide. Not that I condemn all suicides because many suffer from mental disorders that end so. I would also understand that it is not easy to comfort anyone who is dying. Depends a lot on their faith. Do you find that strange? Victor

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