We spent years as a military family, so moving was a pretty regular part of our lives until Ft. Campbell and Clarksville. My parents decided Tennessee was where we would end those travels in the early seventies. Mom being from Lookout Mountain, dad from Ducktown, it was close enough to family…but still not too close. Since landing here, this place, and the people, have become a huge part of who I am; with some shaping me more than others.
I want to tell you about one.
So … dad was a pretty quiet guy who had few very good friends during his life; well, at least those I knew. I can remember him having typical relationships with those who come and go in your life; a few years here, a few there. But I am confident if he hadn’t died at 55, so many years ago, he would tell you that…and I feel pretty confident when I say this…none was as dear to him as our neighbor Bobby Haskins.
I am not sure how the two met (maybe on the cb?), but he and his wife Judy (and their daughter Anita) would come to our house a lot.
Hell, he even got me my first job (not working with my dad) at Acme Boot; as a janitor.
They would play cards, just talk…we would go to their house for a fish fry or for breakfast…I would spend hours in his basement reloading shells for squirrel, rabbit or dove hunting. He owned several acres not far from our house and I could walk the bluffs just over from the Cumberland River and shoot at quail…or just sit there on the back of his land and watch traffic on Riverside Drive. He took me out, taught me to shoot, to hunt…to respect the gift of those trips.
He and my father would take off on hunting trips, spend weekends setting up duck blinds – nights at a lodge downtown. They took me for my first bass boat fishing adventure at South Cross Creek, took me to shoot clay pigeons (taught me what happened when you shot pumpkins and watermelons).
The two were big cb buddies (pretty sure how they met). I can remember how mad I used to get when we would spend all nights out with the cb club at “coffee breaks” where they raised money for one thing or another. I hated those damn things, hated 10-4 good buddy…CQ, CQ, CQ DX….but I would give about anything to have those days back…just a few minutes to truly appreciate what I couldn’t then. Anything for a few minutes with them both.
It was actually on one of those hunting trips, this one to Texas, for goose hunting when they had a wreck. Dad broke a rib, he wouldn’t go to the doctor. Later his stubborn ass went…had some X-Rays and found that he had cancer. Bobby was there for him….I can still remember how broken he was about dad.
Bobby definitely influenced my love of the outdoors. He gave my father such happiness and the two seemed to respect each other. There was a bond that I never saw my father share with his family…they were brothers.
I spent many years after chasing my demons and losing battles for sobriety. In that time, I lost touch with my dad’s friend…my friend….but our paths would cross from time to time.
I cannot help but think about the last time I spoke with him. Joy and I drove down to his house several months ago – I live about two miles away – and sat on his porch talking about things. He talked about my dad, and after all these years, still got a bit weepy. That is just what kind of guy he was.
So many things to say, to ramble on about…but I am struggling to put sentences together. I didn’t realize until this evening how hard it all has hit me. I don’t feel this much emotion for many folks……
Last weekend, Bobby lost a battle with Covid. But I can promise you that a part of him will forever live in me. And he will be missed.
Goodbye Bobby….thank you for everything!!
…for all that you gave me….
Y’all freaking go get vaccinated. We have lost enough to Covid. Please.