Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like Bob Willis. Today Bob turned 90 . He is one of those people who has the classic “mind like a steel trap“, former teacher, and just the kindest man. (Used since at least the early 1900s. This idiom relates the sharp jaws of an animal trap snapping shut to a quick and agile mind. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms.)
I met Bob when I joined the Aquasize group that I used to attend three times a week for over 20 years. I have been to many pools in several cities because it is the best form of exercise for my arthritis but no group of people at a pool have been as friendly as the one’s at ‘Bob’s pool’. Bob and I are tall so I found myself near him at the back, near the deep end. The very first day that I joined the group ,Bob (and Elizabeth, another ‘pool lady’) swam up to me and welcomed me. Waaaaaaa? This never happens!
So on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, for years I would gab with Bob while we worked out . Bob referred to it as “Yackersize”…ha ha. I believe it was due to his welcoming attitude that almost everyone in the pool became friends. I’m not exaggerating . Bob seemed to remember everyone’s name and he would introduce us to each other until even I would be swimming up to strangers to welcome them (this was out of my comfort zone for sure!) We ended up having after pool gatherings for coffee 3 times a week,a big Christmas party once a year(at my house), a wonderful summer barbeque once a year(at another pool couple’s house),going out to a friend’s cottage once a year, and a couple times a year we met for potlucks AT the pool! Amazing!
Anyway, over the years I had the pleasure of meeting Bob’s lovely wife, Terry, and eventually his family, and I learned more and more about these great folks. (Terry has now left us for her next journey in Heaven and let me tell you, I have no doubt that was her destination.) It was only fairly recently that Bob finally felt he could no longer get himself to the pool. It was difficult for me to get there by myself especially with only a few (handicapped) spots (and parking spots in general due to the students using so many of them from the school next door)and dangerous snow and ice on the ground for many months of the year. Oh, how I missed my talks with Bob. We (and many other folks) started meeting up with him at the ‘Ricki’s’ for breakfast on a regular basis. He went there so often that we had a sign made for his regular booth ,”Bob’s Booth”..ha ha
Bob is a wonderful husband, father, friend, lover of model train sets, known for his telling of jokes, a former member of the air force, and a teacher too. He and his bride, Terry, helped out with many groups (including Meals on Wheels), cared for their neighbours, and were/are devoted to their church. He still calls me every week if I don’t beat him to it. He has the most positive attitude about life.
So today we are going to do the Covid birthday drive-by and celebrate with all who can make it . Meet us at Bob’s at noon! I’m so blessed to have a friend like Bob.