At Hat Party 2012, I stood on a chair to adjust my camcorder, and Robert & Suzanne, whom I had not seen in several years, stopped to say hi. Bending down to greet the two of them, I fell off the chair and seriously injured my left shoulder. I stayed at the party that night shooting video anyway, and looking back, Robert was the only person who worried about my shoulder, asking me all evening if I was all right. Turned out to require major rotator cuff repair surgery and months of recovery.
What I did not know at that time was that Robert had been fighting against liver disease for many years, and would die within a few short weeks. Though his death shocked me, Robert & Suzanne had lived this possibility for years, and made sure to spend time together and travel. They chose not to dwell on this with friends, so that’s why I never found out he was dying that last time I saw him. Reading his obituary, I came to understand they had accepted this difficult last leg of his journey, not in resignation, but celebration of their life. My favorite line from the obituary:
“His father insisted that Robert and Davelyn (sister) become accomplished musicians in case their day jobs didn’t work out so they would have something to fall back on.”
That brought a smile and sweet memories of my friend.
This clip comes from the gathering of family & friends held to celebrate our dear Robert. He had played in the Nash Hernandez Orchestra for quite some time, and always dedicated the song, “Unforgettable,” to Suzanne from the stage. You will catch the singer struggling – and failing — to hold back tears as he sings it again here, while Suzanne and Davelynn dance.