Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Tribute to Roger Robinson

This is the tribute, given by my son Roger, to my dad Roger at his funeral on November 29, 2012.

Hello everybody, thank you very much for coming. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Roger. I was named after my grandfather. It’s a real honor to be here.  Thank you for coming ...I really appreciate all our family and friends. You have no idea how much it means to know that he was loved and that we are too.

 I wanted to talk about who he was, why I think he was so special, what his character was. When I thought about this, about the words that describe him, the word that I kept coming back to was love.  Now I know that can sound cheesy, but... He was a private man, he didn’t always say what he was thinking, what he was feeling.  I am kind of the same way.  But he showed his love through his work, through what he did for people, through his service.

He met Gloria, his wife when they were young. They were roller skating, she was with a friend. He came up and he asked her to skate... and he was faithful to her - they were married for 67 years. And he loved her the whole time. When he was in the hospital he would keep talking about her, saying what a wonderful woman she was, how lucky he was to have such a wonderful woman.  We were calling to make appointments at the hair salon, and the lady there said “Oh, he was such a sweet man, he and Gloria were so sweet to each other, and so connected.” The fact that someone who barely knew him would have that impression of them just speaks volumes about the kind of person he was.

I don’t cry because I am sad.  I cry out of love. I just loved him so much. It’s okay that he is gone. I am happy that he does not have to suffer any more.  I just loved him so much that I am overwhelmed by it.

He loved his family. He worked two jobs;  he was a trained instrument maker: he was skilled and intelligent. He also worked a second job as a janitor so he could support his family. When he was in the hospital, on his deathbed, he kept trying to get up, to do something ... to wash the dishes or something. My mother was there next to him, and she was stroking his cheek and saying to him, “ Its OK dad, everything is done. You don’t have to do anything. You can just rest.”

He loved his friends too. He didn’t have very many close friends, but he the ones he did have he really loved.  Like his friend Dennis... when he had brain surgery that left him partially disabled,  Roger helped him to learn to walk again.

Yes he loved his family, his friends, his wife. He also really loved pie. Mincement pie, chocolate pie, pumpkin pie, he loved it.  In the hospital on his tray of food there was some carrot cake – guess what he ate first? He loved dessert. I guess I inherited that.

He as a very joyful person. I live in Seattle, not very far away so I was able to come and visit and every time I would come, I would walk into the room and he would look up and his blue eyes would light up and he would say “Oh, hi, Rog!”

I was his grandson, so I didn’t know him when he was younger, but he was a young boy’s dream when he would come to visit us when we were living in England, or when we went to visit him in Colorado. He was so much fun. He loved adventure. That’s what we would do.  He used to run, ride his bike; he ran up Pikes Peak. He loved to golf and fish. He loved the outdoors; he loved to be in nature. 

We went along with him sometimes, but I think his serious adventures he had by himself. After he retired, Gloria was still working. She didn’t really know what he did all day, she imagined him sitting at home, tidying up or puttering around the house, but no, not him! He was out having adventures. He would pick up some of the ladies from the church and he would take them skiing, they’d ski all day, he’d come home and he’d rush around and tidy up and Nana would come home and ... she wouldn’t know.  For years she didn’t know.

We went to visit him and he had this old Scout and we would drive around the city, and for some reason (I’m sure that this was his idea) he decided that we were never going to stop, ever .  Driving around in this scout  ... red lights, stop signs, it didn’t matter, he wasn’t stopping!  If there were cars in the way, he’d figure it out, we weren’t stopping. That was just the kind of man he was. He was a kind man and a gentle man, but he was not a tame man. He was truly wild at heart.

He also loved being peaceful, being quiet. He loved to play golf. His golf swing was not fast, not powerful:  it was smooth, it was round.  After he retired he went back to school took college courses in geology and German just because he liked to learn about the world. He was interested in many things. His garden was the best garden on the greenway.  People would go by and admire it. Even as an old man, when he was weak, we’d find him outside, weeding.  He had a terrible back, he was in terrible pain and he’d be out there pulling weeds. We’d say,” Pop-pop you don’t have to do that!” and he would say “I know, I just saw that one and I thought I would get it.” He was not a man to sit in a chair and watch TV even thought he was suffering.

He was a great craftsman. He had a workshop that was immaculately ordered. He made things for his kids and his grandchildren  ... a dollhouse ... he made my brother and I wooden swords so we could hit each other... what kid wouldn’t like that? He loved fly fishing and he would make intricate flies... they were amazing,  it would take him hours. Everything he did he liked to do well.

He was also very patient.  When his daughters Kathy and Carolyn were young he would read them stories at bedtime and they would argue about whose bed he would sit on. They couldn’t stop arguing so he pushed the beds together and sat in the middle! But there were limits to his patience.  When he was trying to teach Lisa, his granddaughter , to play golf ... she’s is left handed and he said “No. Not possible.” Or when he was trying to teach his daughter Carolyn to drive a manual transmission ...  in his Porsche. That didn’t go well.

He quietly helped people. He worked with Silver Key delivering food to people who couldn’t leave their homes.  He and his daughter Liz visited one lady ... they cooked her meal, set the table ... it was Thanksgiving, and she didn’t have anyone to take care of her. He didn’t talk about these things  - he just did it.

From him I could learn to love, and to love life... to be fierce... to be joyful. Galatians 5 reminds us that the fruit of the spirit is love and joy, peace, patience, and kindness and goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control .....  And when you think back on his life if you knew him, every one of these words describes him.
So I tell you, the Spirit of God was with him while he was on earth. And it is my prayer for each and every one of you that the Spirit of God would also be with you each and every day. Thank you so much for your support.


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