Hello…goodbye

I’d planned to blog about my second foray into the e-publishing world this morning. Say hello to Deb Salonen’s short e-story #2: Gator. And say, “Oh, yeah!” to my cover artist, Kim Van Meter. Does she rock or what?

Gator is very different from the first story I published. For one thing, Gator won a short story contest back in 1999–a few months before I sold my first full-length book. I considered that accolade a good omen, so it stood to reason, I’d jump at the chance to bring the story back to life once the right e-pub vehicle appeared. Thank you, Amazon/Kindle.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004YTN5EG (By the way, if you read this and like it, would you please, please, leave a “thumbs-up” Like or, even better, a brief review? Apparently, reviews drive the e-book machine. Sigh. And if you who don’t own an e-reader and don’t want to upload the free Kindle app on your computer, Gator will soon be out via Smashwords, which offers a whole slew of other types of applications: Mobi, PDF, RTF, etc. Check out: Smashwords.com. A Hundred Years or More is now available at Smashwords. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/56874 )

There.

That’s what I’d planned to blog about.

But then I got some sad and upsetting news on Sunday. A high school classmate of mine suffered a heart attack and died. And since this blog is about what’s happening in Debland, I decided I needed to blog about: Bob Kenny.

In high school, Bob Kenny was cool personified. He had the hair, the clothes, the attitude, the guitar…oh, yeah, he brought something new and a little bit scary to my close-knit high school class. And, I think I can say that, across the board, we embraced him because he was different.

Bob and I were friends in a broad, fellow-classmate sort of way. I liked him, but I never liked him. I was going steady with my hubby-to-be at the time. Bob’s circle and mine didn’t overlap often. But, looking back, I can appreciate what a lot of guts it must have taken to be your own person at such a young age.

Here are a couple of comments that have come in on our classmates loop since news of Bob’s death was posted:

Class,

I must say I am in shock as well. It’s very sad to think Bob is gone for good. I always considered Bob a friend. He was a good guy, and underneath it all – a true gentleman. I was fortunate enough to have seen him at our mini-reunion at Linda’s farm a few years ago and talked with him for a long time. We talked  how his daughter and my wife both have M.S., and about his desire to wind down the business. I remember running around with him and Dean when we were around 14, and going to Youth Temperance Coucil meetings and then going out drinking afterwards.

Bob Bork

LOL. That pretty much matches my memory of that time. 🙂

Did I mention Bob was a musician of some repute?

Wow. One of my best friends ever is no more. I credit Bob for helping Mr. Nerd (me) come out of his shell and convincing me that I needed a bigger sense of adventure. Lord knows the Ride provided a good taste, and Bob was instrumental in getting me to Lawrence, Kansas, where we spent a couple months living on popcorn and cokes from the soda machine at the Red Dog Inn before the Young Raiders came along. He didn’t make it to the Flippers, but he did make a wonderful life for his family after he got out of the Rock biz.

Barb & I visited him a few years ago, and I made a trip to see him last summer while I was back in the Midwest. His business was winding down and he was looking for other things to do, but he and Jill had created a wonderful retreat in the woods of Illinois, and we had a joyous two days just getting reacquainted, reminiscing, and figuring out what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. Bob had a huge collection of guitars, and I know he was looking forward to another reunion if we could find a reason.

It’s a little ironic – Jim W. mentioned that the Ride had been nominated to the SoDak R&R Hall of Fame, but they decided to wait because there were older groups with aging members, and they wanted to make sure they got recognized before the players died.

If there’s a moral to the story, it’s do what you always wanted to do when you can – you don’t know how many tomorrows you’ll get. I join with all the others in wishing Bob’s family peace and good memories.

Gordon M. Johnson

Bob and I recently re-connected via Facebook and email. In fact, a couple of days before he died, I sent him a copy of my first short story, A Hundred Years or More. This is what he wrote back:

Deb:

This came through fine and it is a wonderful piece – and that comes from someone who seldom cares for or reads short stories.  Before the early 70’s, it would have been perfect to run in the Saturday Evening Post, and even today, perhaps as a segment in Ira Glass and This American Life on PBS.  But if it’s to be, Amazon, so be it.   Ever consider starting up an online publishing house for short stories?  Might be an interesting side business.  I am sure that all across America there are stories in drawers that will never see the light of day, and some of them should.  If you ever want to try, Greg could help, and I would love to edit/proofread.

A personal note……….

When my oldest son, now 40, was in 5th grade and nearly failing, I told him if he picked up his grades he could have any pet he wanted.  He said he wanted a Parrot and proceeded to become an “A” student finishing the year at the top of his class.  In anticipation of this outcome, about a month earlier we put a deposit on an egg, visited the breeder to see the egg, visit the egg, hold it, watch it hatch and hold it, and watch grow it’s first feathers, take its first wobbly steps and feed it from an eyedropper.    It was the beginning of a fascinating close relationship, that only ended a year or so ago.  It was a yellow collared Macaw (sp) and was reputed to live at least 80 years.  I often wondered what would happen.

My son went to college during which time Charlie tolerated my wife and me as caretakers, but then my son met the girl, got married, got two dogs his wife liked, and had twins.  The bird didn’t have much of an appreciation for anyone in the house except my son. Finally facing the fact that his wife was distinctly not fond of ”the bird”  who was capable of taking a child’s finger off,  he spent a year finding a person who ran a bird adoption sanctuary, and thus said good bye to his long time pal Charlie.

They stay in touch, from time to time, and Charlie is still going strong.  But you made me think about what he thinks of it all.

I relate so to your wonderful story, having from the beginning been fairly sure that the parrot would outlive me, and wondering what would happen when he outlived my son. I think that could easily happen still.  Sort of like an ongoing life as a foster child.  And I wonder if that is kind or not.

B

Life is strange, is it not? Oh, and here’s a photo of Bob–and friend–from his Facebook page. (Thank you, Jackie.)

You will be missed, Bob.

10 Replies to “Hello…goodbye”

  1. Thanks, Kim. It seems so odd–the timing. You simply never know. As I posted on the eHarlequin thread: never leave the good unsaid. I thanked Bob for his kind praise, but I wished I told him how cool I thought he was–as a kid in high school and as the man he grew up to be.

    Deb

  2. Deb, this is a wonderful tribute to our classmate and friend. He told me he very much enjoyed your story, but didn’t tell me about his son having a parrot. He was a kind, loving, generous man; multi-talented, multi-faceted, irreverant, funny, and wonderful. I will miss him always.

  3. Deb, thanks so much for sharing this lovely story of your classmate and friend. This spring has been one of change and letting go for me, as well. It’s never easy, but it is easIER knowing others walk along the same path and who do so with the grace and compassion you’ve shared here.

    … Sharon

  4. Jackie, I thought about trying to scan and upload his high school picture, but I ran out of time this morning. I always picture him with this devilish grin, and yet he was a mindful, caring person. Thanks for sending the recent photos of him.

    Deb

  5. Sharon, that is so kind of you to say. You can’t help but try to make some sense of it. And, yet, it makes no sense when someone you were just talking to a day or two before is suddenly gone.
    I’m sending you a long-distance hug, my friend.
    Take care. Deb

  6. Such a beautiful tribute to Bob. I was really touched by his note to you. It’s really amazing, the timing and similarity to your story. I really believe you were meant to write it, and he was meant to read it when he did. Hugs.

  7. Rula, that is very profound. My daughter and I read your post right after she read the blog and we were both very touched. Thank you.

    Deb

  8. But he was a happy face sort of guy, Marcie. 🙂

    And he would have laughed out loud about the juxaposition of Gator’s photo at the top of the page and his own photo at the bottom. Yep. I’m pretty sure he’s smirking somewhere in heaven.

    Deb

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