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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
I look forward to your comments.