Sunday, January 9, 2011
Memories of Uncle Robert
I’m sure I saw him sometime or other at Mamaw & Papaw’s house in my early years but my first vivid memory of Uncle Robert was from a road trip to Birmingham AL. My mom & dad drove the miles with Mamaw, Papaw, me and Gail. We stayed at their pretty white brick house and they had an ice cream party for all the children neighbors to come over and play with their nieces. One night they took us out to dinner at an Asian restaurant and they served us there by spinning a bowl upside down on a plate. I think that was the one and only time in his life that Pack Fisher ate Japanese food.
Later when I was in high school, Gail and I took a trip by ourselves to visit Robert and Patty in Chicago. We flew from Love Field to O’Hare. Dinner at their home was served on individual small plates rather than the family style that we were accustomed to at our house. While they were at work we amused ourselves at their house & then caught the train into the city from Clarendon Hills. Aunt Patty met us at the station in Chicago & took us to meet the people she worked with in a lab of a hospital. We went to Marshall Fields, her favorite department store and up to the observation deck of the John Hancock building. I have had episodes in my life that disagreed with being high above the earth – this was one of those times. Felt really queasy…Uncle Robert joined up with us for dinner at a restaurant called The Magic Pan which specialized in crepes. Although I’m sure it was a fine place – the top floor of a skyscraper had left me with no appetite. (I’ve been back to the Hancock top floors twice since then; both times with Jonathan & Erica – no problems – even had the brunch.) During this visit, they made sure again to give us time with kids our own age. Some of their friends had teenagers and a pool and we went to their house one afternoon. We went to church with them and Sunday brunch at the Marshall Field’s nearest to their neighborhood. Aunt Patty let us taste her champagne. Altogether they were wonderful hosts!
In 1986 Darrell & the boys & I were living in Greencastle Indiana for Darrell’s job assignment with IBM. My mom & dad were coming to spend some time with us around Easter and we invited Robert & Patty to join us for the weekend. Travis was a baby & Jonathan was a first grader & they entertained everyone. I remember going to church together. We were members there at First Presbyterian.
After we moved back to the dfw area in Texas we would see them when they came on TX visits and would keep in touch by phone and holiday cards. I remember one phone conversation with him during his time of living on his own after Patty passed away. I have been a longtime admirer of former president Jimmy Carter. I mentioned to Uncle Robert that he and Carter shared the same birth year and our conversation went suddenly silent – then he gathered his words to go on a little rant about how Carter’s policies had nearly ruined the steel industry during the 70’s. Ok - I learned to avoid topics that might incite political opinions.
When he moved to TX to go to an assisted living facility, he came to our house for Thanksgiving. He was very quiet and somewhat confused about the people and his surroundings. At that time, he wasn’t the same man I had known.
All in all, the pastor who led his memorial service gave an accurate description of his personality and character – loyal, frugal, responsible, and cooperative. I wanted to say something about love, but I was too emotional at the time to speak out. I know he must have been a loving husband because Aunt Patty always so adored him. She would make comments like, “Isn’t Bob cute? Isn’t Bob smart? Isn’t Bob funny?” He was so conservative and reserved and she was so not; they were an odd couple but obviously in love with each other. They were good role models to me of love in marriage. I know he must have been devastated when he lost her to breast cancer. He lived on bravely for many years alone but I know he must have had some deep sadness and loneliness. It is comforting to know they have been reunited in heaven where pain and sorrow ends.