Ever since reading Kevin Brockmeier’s A Brief History of the Dead whenever I learn about the death of someone I have cared about I immediately want to sit and scribble down every memory I have about them. Because by committing those memories to paper and pixels I can ensure that they are not forgotten and go on living in the city of the dead. You should read the book, and that will all make sense.
Earlier this week we lost one of our bowlers, Holy Roller Bob. To me it seems swift and sudden because I had only learned a few weeks ago that he was sick. While undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer he had a stroke, and he slipped away shortly after all that.
HRB bowled on both Mondays and Fridays at Dan Patch Lanes. He used to be on one of the old man teams, being in his mid-60s, but for some reason two years before the bowling alley was leveled he joined the Holy Rollers, a team full of 20somethings. It cracked me up every week to see HRB on that team. It upsets me that I can’t remember the nickname the 20somethings had for HRB. They even had the name embroidered on his shirt and it totally escapes me. It might have been something like Doobie or Dewey.
HRB was short and round and he had a round bald head. He liked to drink the Schmidt’s in the red can and every week he would tip me $1 and tell me to put it in my college fund. He was one of those old guys who liked to pretend to read whatever you were reading, or wave his hand between you and your reading material. It never grew old.
On Monday nights (back when I worked Monday nights) he used to bowl with his two sons. Dennis, his eldest son, had such a unique wind up and approach that I totally stole it and used it for a character in one of my short stories.
I think my favorite thing about HRB was how he always, always, always told me that I reminded him of my mom. He said that I smiled just like her. That probably seems like a weird thing to remember and to hold dear, but it’s what I remember the most.
Being the half sister, I often lament the fact that I don’t look like anybody. Well, not anybody we know. It isn’t often that people see my mom, Sister #2, and Jaycie together without commenting on how remarkable the family resemblance is. The same goes for when people see my dad, Sister #3, and Cade together.
I hadn’t ever gotten to experience something like that until HRB kept talking about my smile and my mom. It was one of those small things that a person says and probably doesn’t even think twice about, but it meant the world to me.
Holy Roller Bob sure will be missed.