Monday, November 30, 2015

Black Lives Matter!

Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you about one black man who has had a tremendous influence on my life. Shortly after I moved to this apartment in mid August 2012 I was coming down the sidewalk after running a few errands to get little things we could not find in our packing.

Ahead of me was a thin, small black man who was using his phone. He did not hear me when I asked him if I could get by. I kind of snuck up on him and scared him. I apologized for scaring him and went on my way. I went around the building and came in the front door as Robert was coming in the backdoor. We did not know each other lived in the building. We laughed and introduced ourselves. That was the first time I met Robert Foster and we became fast friends at that moment.

Robert lived in the building with his brother, Rodney and was his primary Personal Care Attendant (PCA) and shortly came to work for me as well.

He had an infectious smile and loud, booming voice. From behind my apartment walls, I could hear if Robert was in the lobby.

He became part of my extended family and we did a number of things together including making a trip to the annual Smith pheasant hunt in South Dakota. Here is a photograph taken in 2013 during that trip:
 As always, click on the image to make it larger:

We were in the barn on the farm my uncle is renovating and Robert was teasing me about something trying to get me to smile and I was not going to give him the satisfaction!

He read my book, enjoyed it and we had many discussions which came from points he found interesting. He told me he learned a lot from me and that meant a great deal. I try to mentor and teach just about everyone I come in contact with. We had a great connection and love of all things sports especially basketball. We meshed from the very beginning and the race difference went away from the very beginning.

He loved to play basketball and often shared stories of when he played at North High School in Minneapolis. We would often watch football and basketball games together and SportsCenter was always on when he would get me up in the morning.

Robert loved life and despite overcoming many tragedies with losing his daughter because a kidney transplant did not take, a mother suffering from Alzheimer's disease, his brother being paralyzed and struggling, a brother with AIDS, just to name a few of the tragedies he is overcome in these little more than three years I knew him. He had a strong faith and inner drive we all can aspire to have!

He also liked his Nikes! He had around two hundred pair many of which have never been taken out of the box! He even had a storage shed full of his shoes and a few other assorted items.

A couple years ago, he was struggling with a car and needed $1200 to get a used car to get him through the winter. I put my old financial planning hat on to try and see if we could straighten out his financial situation. The first thing he did was open a checking account at the bank just up the street. Then, he got a credit card which he used sparingly just to establish his credit.

Shortly after that, he went up the road a ways to an Acura dealer and bought a very nice car for around $6,000. He loved that car and it was always in immaculate condition. They gave him a good deal and treated them very well all because he was in the system now and not living from paycheck to paycheck. He was also building up a small investment.

I am very proud to say he learned how to use the system to his advantage from me.

The other great thing he had going for him was the love of his life, Lisa. They were always together and shared many experiences that helped him get through all of the tragedy he was dealing with. They were soul mates and found each other and had a great time together.


He was like a member of our family and even called my mother, Moms! They also got along great together. We teased each other we were brothers from different mothers. We also referred to ourselves as ebony and ivory, chocolate and vanilla, salt-and-pepper. You get the idea about the young man growing up in the inner-city and connecting with another man who grew up living in small towns across the Midwest. We came from very different backgrounds; however, that did not matter. We overcame those differences from the very beginning.

I am not positive about Robert's exact cause of death, I just know he went very quickly these last few months and had something to do with renal and liver failure. I have a hard time believing he is gone. It will hit me at his service on December seventh.

I know I need to go through the grieving process and it will take some time as I am still in denial. I wish you well in your next world, Robert. Peace be with you and we must take solace in the fact your pain is gone. I will miss you my friend.

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

13 comments:

MOMSthe said...

o.k. Now I have to share a few more Tears! It's difficult processing the fact that he is gone. You are so right on---his infectious smile and giggle wil so truly be missed. Although he was only in our lives for three plus years, he will be missed! You two were quite the pair--and liked to give each other a bad time about --a little bit of everything! Rip In Peace, Friend! "Mother Colleen"

Victoria Patrick said...

You did get my attention with your blog headline. I'm glad you got to share some special times with someone who became close to you, and I'm sorry for your loss. His life still matters.

Jeanne Bullerman said...

So sorry for your loss, Mike! I think it sounds like a positive friendship, or brotherhood, from both sides. Prayers and hugs sent your way!

Mary said...

Very sweet! I loved the story, inspires me to reach out. Praying for you and may December 7th be a comforting celebration of Robert and his life!

Mary

Frank said...

Hi, Mike!

I am so sorry to hear of Robert's passing. I felt I could warm up to him immediately when we met. He was the epitome of a good man. Please extend my condolences to his family.

Frank

Lynn said...

You always have a way of bringing it down to the personal level. I wish more people could do that. I love the way you put things. I can tell you are a writer!

Lynn

Earl Hipp said...

Your obvious sadness and the tears you're sure to shed at the service are what love lost feels like. It's wonderful hearing how good you were for each other. Proof Spirit is working in your (our) lives. Blessings on his memory.

Richard Zajicek said...

Condolences, Mike. Thanks for sharing this very personal, well considered story.

Dawn Shale said...

A very heartfelt tribute to your friend Mike. So sorry for your loss. Friends are more family than blood relatives in a lot of instances ... you'll see your 'brother' again!

Kelly Styring said...

Mike I am so sorry to hear about Robert. What a great loss. He was a very nice man and a great care taker. My thoughts and prayers go to you and his family.

Laurie Thiboutot said...

I am SO SORRY To hear this Mike! He was so good to you and I loved him for that ... He was such a gentleman whenever I talked with him while we FaceTimed ... No one can replace him!

Tory said...

So sweet … I'm sure he gets your continued love.
Tory

Ms Sparrow said...

What a ray of sunshine you must have been in Robert's life! I hope you're doing OK and will be back to blogging soon(even though I haven't been either)! By the way, I volunteer in the lobby at the Gillette Lifetime/ Health Partners Clinic on Wednesdays till noon. If you should come in, be sure to say Hi!