Last week the world lost a most beautiful soul; my friend Bob. He will always be remembered for his kindness, loyalty, generosity, friendliness and his true love of animals. His love of animals, nature and plants were what bonded Bob and I as such great friends. Many people thought we were both crazy for some of the antics we did all in the love of an animal! Yet we were just doing what felt completely normal. I will miss my dear friend each and every day.
I must tell a few stories about Bob! I first met Bob as my next door neighbor so we saw each other on an almost daily basis. In the summer of 2010, my husband, son and I were going to Hilton Head to spend some time at the beach. Bob had rented a place there for a few months and we were able to spend a week at his rental. Before we left, he was telling us of how you can ride your bikes to a specific place on the plantation where there is a large colony of feral cats. At that time, I had very little knowledge of a feral cat. Yet we had only recently adopted a cat of our own and my son and I were very invested in cats! We knew for sure that we would have to stop and see these cats. We even brought treats along. It was quite a thing to see. The cats had some shelters and a very large feeding area. Some of the cats were more approachable, but almost all loved when you tossed them a treat. It broke my heart to see them living outside without a loving home. Yet I did realize that they were well cared for. Hilton Head has done a wonderful job caring for feral cats as well as spaying and neutering them all.
Not long after returning home, I kept thinking about feral cats and why my life never took a path to care for something as precious as these cats. Imagine my surprise one day while looking out my window, a small scrawny cat came through the yard with a chipmunk in its mouth. I had never seen his cat before and it was very rare to see a cat in my yard. Over the next few weeks I continued to see this cat. I tried numerous times to go out and take a bowl of food, but it ran with all its might as soon as it saw or heard me. After watching its behavior I began to wonder if this kitty was a feral cat? Of course I had to ask Bob if he had seen this cat. He had and also thought it might be feral. He asked if I wanted to borrow his humane trap. I was shocked! Why on earth would I trap it?? That was how uninformed I was back then! He told me of his sister who had cared for many feral cats. She had trapped them, had them spayed/neutered and then ear tipped to show they had been spayed/neutered. Boy did I have a lot to learn! Anyway, Bob brought me the trap and walked me through how to use it. He even volunteered to go with to the spay/neuter clinic when I had the cat in the trap! So thanks to my friend Bob, I am now proficient in trapping. Without Bob telling me of feral cats, I would never be doing what I do today! I owe so much of what I do today to the support of Bob!
There are many crazy stories of he and I trapping skunks. Both of our dogs had been sprayed with the large skunk population we have here. We decided it was best to try and get rid of some of them. We called a company to assist us. Traps were placed in my yard as well as his. The first night, it was on the cool side and I had my windows open. The trap was just below my bedroom window. Of course my husband was traveling during the event. I heard the trap slam shut and then lots of crying. I look out and the large skunk was inside, while a another was next to it. This second skunk kept crying and crying. It was heart breaking. I cried most of the night. The next morning before 8 am, I called Bob and while still crying I told him of this poor skunk. He called the company and they said they would come get it shortly. It was hours later when they did arrive. We asked what they would do with it and where it would be released. Boy were we naive. Once trapped it was to be euthanized. This was not at all what we wanted. Bob of course found a way to save the skunk! He hired someone to take the skunk to one of his properties and release it! Some how we forgot about one of the traps. The next day, there was a skunk in a trap at his house. Bob had spoken at length with how to transport skunks without getting sprayed. He covered the trap and then decided he would take it and release it himself. He did this all in the back of his wife’s Lexus! All for the life of a skunk!!
We also rescued a crow with a broken leg and wing. He and I ran around our neighborhood like two crazies with a large cardboard box trying to capture this crow. We somehow managed and Bob took the crow to the wildlife rescue center. Another time, he rescued a Cormorant from a local pond. I believe the bird was injured and had not been able to make the fall migration. Bob was able to help this bird too.
We fed countless birds in the neighborhood and loved to watch the deer frolic in our yards. Bob moved from my neighborhood, but I always continued to send him pictures and even videos of the wildlife. He loved to see the deer and all of my unusual birds. He never thought I was crazy for naming all the deer! He also helped me this past winter by encouraging me to get help for Mighty! I was at such a loss, but when I spoke and emailed with Bob he really felt that it was worth trying to save him.
This past winter and spring, I was so fortunate to have a small flock of bluebirds that came to my yard. Sometimes I would have as many as 8 at one time. Bob was wintering in Hilton Head. I would send pictures of these beauties many times each week. When the time came for him to come home, he kept asking me how he could get the bluebirds to come to his yard! I had no idea. They had just showed up in my yard and I was able to keep them around my feeding them some of their favorite foods. I decided to get Bob a bluebird feeder as well as some meal worms and suet balls. Just maybe with a little magic and luck, the bluebirds would find him.
Just days after returning from Hilton Head, Bob was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was the most shocking and devastating news. Some how those bluebirds found Bob’s house and the feeder and food. He was able to enjoy them for many weeks before they left for the summer. The bluebirds were one of our last animals joys together. I also continued throughout the summer to send him videos of the deer and the fawns. I had so hoped he would be able to come and see them in person.
Bob lost his battle with brain cancer on August 2, 2016. The world seems to have lost some of its sparkle. Bob never grew tired of hearing all about my cats or the many animals that frequent my yard. He would often call me while away for the winter just to ask about the animals. Losing Bob has left a huge void in my life. Each time I see a skunk, a bird, the deer and even my feral cats, I think of Bob.
May you rest in peace my dear friend. Fly free like the bluebirds!
The bluebird of happiness
is having a friend like you.
Who listens and understands me
When others do not have a clue.
You gave me unconditional freedom
of expressing and being just me,
sharing the laughter and tears and
the ups and downs that life can bring.
Your beautiful gift of friendship
that I promise will never part,
remains a safe and loving haven
that always dwells in my heart.
I wanted to add something very special that arrived in the mail shortly after I wrote this post. My dear friend Laura sent me a bluebird memorial. I have it hanging in a window near all of my bird feeders. What an absolute joy to see this beautiful gift of art each time I am looking out the window. Thank you so much for friend!