Our family is a lot sadder these days. On Friday -- and then, again, on Tuesday, we said goodbye to Bob Maley, our friend, our family. Family came from Missouri and Massachusetts, Tennessee and North Carolina, Minnesota and Michigan. We hugged each other, we cried, and we even smiled as we shared memories of Bob.
I first met Bob (and Rick's aunt, Carol) when I accompanied Rick to his cousin Eric's wedding a good twelve years ago. From the first meeting, he made me feel like I belonged. They both did. And that's something I never forgot.
In the time since, I've had some wonderful times with the Maley family -- gatherings at their cottage, the weddings of children Matt and Stephanie, and terrific Thanksgivings. Behind all this was Bob (and Carol's) energy, generosity and hospitality.
Bob and Carol were as much friends as family, with our age difference being much less than ten years. They weren't your typical aunt and uncle! Bob and Carol were our peers, and the relationship with them was so different than with my own aunts and uncles. So, we've lost our friend, too.
I say Bob-and-Carol almost like it's one word -- and indeed, to me these two seemed so ideally suited, such a team, it's hard to think of them separately.
During their 42 years of marriage, they traveled the world enjoying trips with friends and family, yet were divinely happy at their home and cottage with their kids, grandchildren and extended network of friends.
Whenever anyone dies young, before their time, we ask "Why?" And I don't think there's an answer -- or that we'll ever know what that answer is. I know only that there is an empty space in my extended family that was once filled with a smile, a joke, a good bottle of wine, a zest for life and living.
Bob's was a life well lived -- but it was too short a life. It was one of kindness, generosity and great humor. It was one of smiles. Bob loved the arts, and I fondly remember meeting Bob-and-Carol in Ann Arbor twice for dinner and a concert. He was a man of faith, a person of joy. To know he won't be at our future gatherings makes me sadder than I can almost bear.
Saturday night, after working the art fair, Rick made a lovely dinner. He had flowers on the table, picked from his yard, delicious chicken got off the grill, and asparagus with pasta.
Bob, an amateur winemaker, had given Rick some of his "Black Prince Winery" creations when we once visited.
We drank a toast "To the winemaker." It was a Chardonnay, cool and crisp and refreshing.
And he was at our table, joining us -- filling a big spot in our hearts.
Goodnight, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to your rest.
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