The Other I

August 13, 2007

The family on the farm: Bob

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 8:36 pm

Although Bob was named after Robert Bellarmine, his sisters think he would have been better named after Blessed Martin de Porres, the Dominical Brother who worked among the poor and seemed to appear almost anywhere he was needed, sometimes by seemingly miraculous methods.   Bob has never claimed – nor have any of us ever remotely suggestesd – he possesses anything resembling miraculous powers.  But he is one for figuring out labour-saving devices, and takes a special delight in those that are just a little ingenious.   

Once Dad was suspicious that Bob, then about age seven, was going to bed with his pajamas on over his clothes in order to save dressing time in the morning.  He put on his most ferocious Claude look and summoned him from his bedroom.  But faced with Bob’s frantic attempts to hide his trousers, he collapsed laughing and fled helplessly calling “Jean, come here and deal with this.”  And it didn’t surprise anybody to discover that one year Bob bought a dozen “I’m sorry I forgot your birthday” cards in January, and sent them out randomly during the year.

I don’t know exactly how he did it, but somehow he managed to maintain a reputation of simple innocence while plotting more schemes than most of us.  Even when he got caught, he was never really in trouble.  When he was caught shooting dice in the church vestibule by a nun with a ferocious reputation, she sent a note home for Bob to give to Dad saying “now I’ve seen everything,” to which Dad replied “So have I.”  It ended there. 

After Mom died, and what was called the “New Regime” was installed, Bob’s teflon luck continued.  While his sisters were constantly upgraded for their lack of cleaning skills, poor cooking, and general carelessness, Bob was the son our new “mother” never had.  He was about ten when, thinking it was a pile of paper, he jumped into a newly-delivered silk lamp shade waiting on the floor for installation.  It was dismissed as a boyish mistake. 

This might seem like a cozy life, but Bob wasn’t always comfortable being the favourite.  Nobody said it or even thought it, but I think Bob often felt guilty about getting better treatment than his sisters.  Nobody wished he would get into trouble though. 

Even today, when Bob is coming, it’s special for homes he visits around the world.


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