Bloodlines and Robert Winfield Scott
is given to blood
to family lines
yet how does one account
for the love I feel
for a man I never met
a man I knew
for just a year
a man who changed my life
gave me new values
challenged my beliefs
offered me nothing
and a wry humour
I rang him once
across the world
that he was deaf
yet once I heard his voice
just that once
I was fulfilled
blood is a matter
of the heart
there's no explaining it
love you, bro...
Robert Winfield Scott
On March 23rd, 2005, in the evening, Mississippian Robert Winfield Scott did the business with his maker. He died two days after my new wife and I were married, and two days after I sent photographs of the event to him. I fervently hope that he saw them, as he had given us his personal blessing.
Heíd been critically ill for 30 years or so, with, among other things, emphysema, diabetes, deafness, bowel and bladder problems... not easy stuff to deal with for an active man who had been a deputy sheriff, fisherman, Southern Baptist preacher and most of all for me, a writer of considerable talent.
Bob was confined to a wheelchair with oxygen tubes permanently attached to his face... he couldnít survive without them. I met the old bugger in a writerís group online where we struck up a friendship. Curious, really, that an old unbeliever like me found comfort and inspiration from a god-person, as I jokingly called him. And that, more curiously, he found comfort in me.
We struck up more than just a relationship or friendship... somehow Bob was the brother Iíd never had, that I hadnít realised Iíd missed, the older brother who encouraged, castigated, stroked and joked. Bob became my brother in every meaningful nuance of the word. I loved/still love the man unconditionally and without reserve.
Daily, we chatted on Messenger, exchanging points of view and sharing memories, until his breathing sent him packing at short notice. I didnít know at the time, but I was one of his only contacts with the outside world for almost a year. Apparently it was his daily contact with me which gave him the strength to persevere, to stay alive, at least in the short term. I am humbled by that. And I donít humble easy...
My bro Ropata, (Maori for Robert,) as I called him, gave me wisdom, humour and a bit of naughtiness. He was all that one could ask for in a mentor, a guru, a brother. I miss him every day still, yet allow him his release from the terrible pain and suffering. The grief is all mine, the loss mine. He never tried to convert me to religion, but offered spiritual insights which were universal. What a man.
Only ten years my senior, he suffered more pain stoically for longer than I could ever imagine. Married to a beautiful, generous woman for 50 years, with a gaggle of devoted children, Bob made his mark in the world. He certainly changed mine.
I am now a bona fide member of the Scott family, and, graciously, they maintain contact with me frequently on the basis of the love Bob and I shared.
It almost makes me want to convert...
John Irvine is an Old Aged Pensioner with delusions of immortal failure and a cynical view of life. He has a mole under his left arm, and a wife who hates pizza and tripe,. He hopes to die painlessly one day without warning. He has a volume of poetry, recently published by Zenith Publishing Group (www.zenithpublishing.co.nz) of New Zealand, called Man of Stone. It has been positively reviewed in Takahe magazine by Raewyn Alexander, and in Valley Micropress by Tony Chad. Heís pathetically grateful for that. He also has a web site where you can waste some time: www.cooldragon.co.nz. He has been published in a number of print and online magazines, including Australian Reader, Wicked Karnival, Sam Smithís Select Six, Stylus and Magazine, and now in the truly amazing Noneuclidean Cafe.
Photo Courtesy of dreamstime.
Poem and Essay Copyright © 2007 John Irvine. All rights reserved.