Robert Lee Schmalfeldt (1955-2004)

That’s Bob on the left, Me on the right.  1986.  Having fun in San Francisco.

Bob was my womb-mate, my best friend, and the first one of my Mom’s adult children to pass on to the next level.

Bob was a self-made and self-broken man.

When we were in high school, you’d be hard-pressed to find a tougher guy than my twin brother.  The only guy who could beat him in a fight was me, and that’s just because I knew how to make him mad and took advantage of it.

He was a rough guy on the football field.  (He’s 73, I’m 63).

Center High School Wildcats, 1972

I always knew at least one kid at school.

I always had a fishing buddy. (Me in the glasses)

And it was “High School Bob” that I think of most fondly.  Like me, he had a bad string of marriages and a bunch of kids.  He was married 3 times before finding someone who would put up with him, I had to go through 2 wives before finding my soulmate.

But Adult Bob always seemed to NEED to have something physically wrong with him.  First it was his knee… that got him out of the Navy in 1975.  Then it was his back.  That led to one surgery after another after another after another after another until he suffered a ruptured blood vessel in his spine in 2000 that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

He told my Mom once, that if he could snap his fingers and be able-bodied and go back to work full time, he wouldn’t do it.  His handicap allowed him to lie in bed, smoke cigarettes, order his wife and kids around, and play video games and eat candy.

I warned him.  Jack warned him.  Mom warned him.  He needed to exercise.  He needed rehab.  He needed to try to regain as much function as he could.  But Bob always knew best.

Until that morning, March 19, 2004, when his wife found him dead in his hospital bed in their apartment living room.

Not a day goes by when I don’t miss the Bobber.  And I still love him very much.  But I use him as a cautionary example to fight Parkinson’s Disease as hard as I can.

I just hope he’s finally happy.

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