Outside Circle by Jan Swan Wood: Thanks for the Memories, Bob
We lost one of our own. My brother-in-law, Bob Burke, passed away on Feb. 1, just a day after his 68th birthday. Cancer is a wicked enemy. He fought it valiantly. I won’t say it won though, because Bob won. He had accepted his Savior recently and he went home to be with Jesus. Yes, he won. We lost though, because he is gone.
Bob was a larger than life personality and a big man. Being the second Bob in the family, he was often called Griz. It fit. He was big, burly and in a beard, had that look. He was also a teddy bear, as every little kid, from babies on up, adored and trusted him. We all did.
It didn’t matter what was being done, Bob would step up and help. He was just plain handy at so many things. Not only handy, but in about any situation, could fine something to smile and laugh about. He was the source of many a practical joke and no one was immune. I think we were all on the receiving end of one of them at some point, but there was never meanness or malice involved. Always good clean fun. For example, a full pitcher of very icy ice water being poured on his youngest sister-in-law when he found her asleep in a chair. I was quite startled and remember yet him laughing and running out of the room, like I could have done anything to him anyway.
It’s a wonder I ever married. When I was in my late teens he would see me at a dance or rodeo or something and literally loom over the boy I was with and ask him in his gruffest voice “What are you doing with my little sister?”. Oh, at the time, I could have killed him of course. A few times, though, I was sure glad to see him. He ran off more than one unwelcome guy and on those occasions I could have kissed him.
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Bob was one of the last of the breed who still pulled the lamb nuts with his teeth at docking. I remember him chasing my sister, his wife, around to give her a kiss when we were all done. His moustache might have been a little messy by then! For some reason, love him she did, but she sure didn’t want a kiss!
I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone else who could think as fast as Bob, and furthermore, act as fast. If something happened, he responded while it was happening. He was hazing for another steer wrestler one time and the steer ducked under the doggin’ horse’s neck when at full speed. Bob’s hazing horse ran out of the cloud of dust, but when it settled, there was Bob, holding that doggin’ horse down to make sure the guy wasn’t hung up in the wreck. He not only saw the potential wreck but reacted. He stepped off a running horse and did what needed to be done.
Another time, his good friend was working the ring horseback at a sale barn. A bull came in the ring and got his friend’s horse down. Bob was sitting up high in the seats, but ran down, jumped the rail, jumped the lower seats, swung over the tall ring fence and got the bull off of Jerry and out of the ring before anyone got hurt. It was all in the blink of an eye.
Athlete, cowboy, rancher, practical jokester, husband, Dad and Papa. He was all of those things. My folks adored him. He treated them like royalty, caring and compassionate always, and not above teasing my Mom until she’d get the giggles. He and Dad could laugh and tell stories for hours. I also remember Bob taking time off work, driving all the way to Belle from Sundance, and helping my Dad to his doctor appointments after his knee surgery. I was there but I couldn’t lift and help my Dad like Bob could. He never made my Dad feel like he was less of a man for needing the help either.
There are so many memories. With over 48 years of knowing Bob, loving him as a part of my family, and watching a life well lived, there just aren’t enough words or space in this column to tell the story of such a man.
Every time I make a sour cream raisin pie or watch someone else carve the meat for a family meal, Bob will be there. He’ll always be a part of our lives. But oh does his passing leave a big hole in our family. He will be sorely missed.
So Bob, until we meet again on the other side, thank you for who you were and the great memories you left to us.
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