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Penni Lynn Smith (Weston)

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Come September
By Penni Lynn Smith (Weston)
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Rated "G" by the Author.

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In memory of Robert James Wilson
September 23rd, 1962-September 4th, 1982

Come September my family has a scar upon the family tree. My brother-in-law has a birthday on September 4th. That day, in 1982, should have been a happy day for George. It was one of the worst days of our entire family life. Early on the morning of September 4th, on a highway in Amarillo, Texas, my sister Patti's only son, Robert James Wilson, also known as Bobby, was struck and killed by a drunk driver. To this day I don't know many of the details. I just know that a wonderful boy, 19 days shy of his 20th birthday, my sister's only son, was taken from us by a man who was unfit to drive a car.

Patti was devastated. But we all were for that fact. The days to follow are memories that are very outstanding. It was a Saturday when he was killed. I remember going over with my parents to comfort Patti and Danny,his stepfather, and sisters Tammy, and Paula. Other people were there. We made necessary phone calls to inform out of town relatives. On Sunday we went over to comfort Patti and Danny and the girls. On Monday we went over to do the same. On Tuesday he was brought home. That night, according to my sister, she heard the front door open and shut and she heard Bobby say very clearly, "Mom, Dad, I'm home."

Wednesday we went to the mortuary. Bobby was in his army uniform and a white veil was over his face because makeup had been applied so heavily to his face. We rubbed his hands, folded neatly on his stomach. He had on white gloves. We so wanted him to still be alive that we actually thought we saw him take a breath! But it was just our imaginations.

On Thursday, I think everybody in Colton, California was there to say good-bye. The funeral procession seemingly went on for miles upon miles. Bobby had a lot of friends. We took him to Riverside National Cemetary where he got full military honors. No, he didn't give his life in a war. No, he wasn't an officer of high ranking. He was just our little soldier, Bobby. I shook every time they fired off the guns for the 21 gun salute. I bawled my eyes out when they folded the flag and presented it to my sister. And then it was over. We went back to my sister's house and greeted the onslaught of mourners who came by to pay their respects. And the day closed like every other day. The sun set in the west. Our grief is still as fresh today as it was all those years ago. It is a scar that will never heal. We love you dearly, Bobby.

On September 4th, a few years later, we learned the man who killed Bobby died in another crash on the same day he took Bobby's life. I don't know if it was a drunk driving incident or not, but it seems befitting somehow.


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