From Bob on April 2, 2020
Just to let you know I am well, very well. I have felt so included in our family, by Char, by Steven, by Gabe, and by Al. Somehow, I feel that I excluded myself from my family and didn't know where I was for months. But I'm coming around, thanks to all of you, thanks to everyone. I've been able to walk again. Char and I walked 3 1/2 miles in Tilden Park the other day, up to the ridge, and we walk a couple of miles in Albany almost every day. We start our days at 7am and work out for more than a half-hour, doing qi gong warm ups, physical therapy exercises, stretching, and meditation. I also have joined the qi gong class at the Albany Senior Center led by Charlene on Monday nights - I've not forgotten the warmups and now Char leads the group at our house on her zoom account which works well. She hosts a group of about 20 people each Monday which I really enjoy.
I don't drive any more, maybe later. Char drives us everywhere. Or we walk. Now since social distancing, when we food shop, I stay in the car and listen to the radio. Shopping at Monterey Market was a weekly occasion, now maybe every two to three weeks. I make my own breakfast and cleanup in the morning and after dinner. I used to take a nap for a half-hour, more or less, per day. Lately I haven’t needed a nap.
Here is something I wrote the beginning of March when I was starting to write more regularly:
Writing is difficult. Not easy but I can do it. What do I have to say? I don’t know, I’m at a loss, but I can be found, not far away, sitting in my little room, behind the bedroom, and I can hear the chickens, a year gone by. Where have I been?
Not far from Charlene, who’s taken a year, now, from her own life to nourish mine.
“I’m planning to rejoin my writing group. Will they take me? I don’t l know.
Mary will eat here tonight and I will make MaPoTofu. That will make a meal. My first in a year.
I’m at a loss. A year ago I slipped, after crossing a ten-foot wooden plank. Charlene saw me tumble and fall into the water below, bouncing rock to rock, rescued by Vincent and Emily lifesaving graduates.
I was told I didn’t lose consciousness. I stayed aware, even smiling, Charlene said.
I’ve never been a swimmer. My Uncle John rescued me from the bottom of the Big Sur River when I was four years old. I’d done a backwards dive off a tall rock and can still see the colored pebbles through the clear water on the bottom of the Big Sur. Uncle John pulled me to the surface. .
Years later in Vietnam I waded across a river up to my chest, holding an M-16 rifle over my head. How did I survive? On the other side of the river my team and I scrambled up a steep incline. At the top of the bank we took cover and looked back down the slope. We’d made it!
The next mile was all swamp and we never dried out. Our jungle boots were soaked and our camouflage fatigues were dense bamboo 5 inches thick in triple canopy jungle, no trail, no path, all swamp.
The next day we were exposed, climbing uphill until we reached the top. We stared down the face of the hill. Two male tigers were visible in a clearing, half a mile below. We called in a single round of light artillery on the face of the hill but the round was a dud, landing not more than ten feet away from our position. I never wanted to kill any people or animals.
At night-fall, I fished a plastic wrapped, black and white photo from my breast pocket, the snap shot of a high school girlfriend. Was she still my girlfriend? I didn’t know. I had carried her in my breast pocket, soaked or crimped, during every mission, never leaving her behind.
I am grateful for your good wishes this past year. I have read all of your journal comments and cards and your words continue to encourage and give me hope.
Thank you so very much for your caring and patience. It’s been a long year.
All my gratitude to my family: my wife, Charlene, my sons, Steven and Gabe, and my daughter in law, Ally.
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- Kathy and Yuji MitaniDear Bob, It is so amazing to read your words and hear your voice again. What a challenging journey you and your family have had. I so much enjoyed your pieces of writing that you included. They reminded of the memory pieces you used to share with your students. I am sure your writing group will gladly welcome you back! The journal entry was dated last year but I only received notice of it a few days ago. So I am sorry I didn't respond sooner. I have been wondering if you and Charlene have thought about writing and publishing a book about your experience this past year? I think it would be very inspiring to many people! I think I know someone who could help if you're interested. Thank you for sharing a part of yourselves with us this year! You are never far from our thoughts and hearts. Love, Kathy4/18/21
- Nancy BurkeSo lovely to see your writing, Bob. It's good to have you back. Love, Nancy4/17/21
- Kathleen RiceBob, I too am just seeing this now, one year after you wrote such powerful words. You and Charlene have been in my heart and thoughts all this time. I am so heartened to hear where you are now, having survived, not once, but many times, some very scary experiences. No doubt a year of COVID has brought new ones for all of us. I have been facing some big fears myself this past year, mostly internal, trusting a way to live more fully and with purpose is arising. Sending you both much love.4/16/21
- Deborah MarksBob! How wonderful to hear from you in your own words. Such perseverance and healing, so much love around you. What a long, long year it's been, eh? May the Force continue to be with you.4/15/21
- Barbara (Irving) NobleHello Bob. Don’t know if you will get this as the last journal date was over a year ago. As I’ve been in COVID quarantine for a year I’ve thoroughly drawn my 1,000 person family tree on Ancestry. Then my researching turned to long ago, Madera Elementary. I didn’t find many students but I do remember you and how fantastic you were at baseball, and how smart you were. But especially I remember a geometric circle you designed with thread, astounding, I always thought you would be an innovating architect somewhere! I’ve followed your stories on the internet with great fascination and interest. Your personal story (if you ever write it) is the classic tale of those times. I was very shocked and sorry to read of your accident, hope you are improving day by day. You may not remember me at all but I wish you the very best recovery. This is to send you all healing wishes. All the best, Barbara (Irving) Noble4/14/21
- Eric SpiegelDear Bob,I'v I visited Caring Bridge today for updates on another friend and saw this entry that you posted in early April. I am SO VERY HAPPY that you are doing so well, and look forward to seeing you when we're all allowed to move about again. It is wonderful to ready your notes. Sending all my love. You've been in my thoughts and heart all year, and I've been able to stay somewhat up to date through the wonderful and loving Charlene. My warmest biggest heart to you, Eric5/6/20
- Kathy and Yuji MitaniDear Bob, It is so wonderful to read your words and hear your voice in my head. Your journey continues to be an amazing inspiration to me and Yuji. All our love to you and yours, Kathy4/30/20
- Barbara AbramsDear Bob, It is wonderful to read this, and to know that you are so well and engaged in life. You are an inspiration to me and to my family right now. I send you love and thousands of blessings!4/30/20
- Mary VradelisThank you so much for your writing, Bob. Your words are a testament to the power of love, diligence, and patience. A powerful lesson for us all -- especially now.4/17/20
- H MoserBob, Thinking of you and sending you LOVE LOVE LOVE> From here. Hunkered down in Western Massachusetts, Heidi XOXOXOXO4/14/20
- Martha RobertsBob, you are an inspiration. So determined to gain back what you'd lost, and it's happening for you in a big way! When I saw you at Shambhala (quite a while ago now -- I've been out of town for a month), I felt such joy because I was so worried for you for so long, and now to see you walking and talking and, most of all, with us once again! You're not the only one who was blessed -- it made my day. Stay healthy, OK?4/10/20
- Cacey JenningsYour writing evoked so many emotions, Bob. You write with such clarity. And beauty. A sign of a good writer, to me, is when the words and story won’t let go, long after one reads something. You have done just that; I read this when it was posted, and it has stayed with me every day since. Welcome back; it’s nice to have you! Big love to you and Char.4/7/20
- Carolyn KrusinskiBob, How wonderful to read your words and feel the strength of your recovery and expansion. Good for Charlene and you to be adventuring. Tom and Carolyn4/5/20
- Anne StrykeBeautiful :-)4/5/20
- Henderson DonIt's a thill to read your post, you are back in the saddle. Hope I get to read your next book. Love Don4/5/20
- Abby SkrivanBob thanks for your beautiful writing. You will always be an inspiration to me! Can you imagine doing I-Search with 90 kids over the computer?? Strange times. Much love to you and your family xoxoxoxo4/4/20
- Kimberly Aumack YeeBob, it is so amazing to hear your voice through your written words. They nourish my soul and help me to see and feel life more deeply and more compassionately. As I read and reread your entry my smile lingers throughout the day. I look forward to your next post! It was wonderful to do Qi Gong together with you and Charlene, online with the virtual flock. Sending my love to you, Charlene, Steven, Gabe and Ally as this journey continues to unfold in unbelievable ways. Can’t wait to be less than six feet apart!4/4/20
- Sally BenjaminI echo what so many of your loved ones have said. Bob, it is an amazing gift to hear and feel you through your own voice, in your own powerful writing. The story of being pulled from the river at age 4 and your clear memories of that event are staggering. Charlene, you, along with Steven, Gabe and Ally, truly have made it possible for Bob to be where he is now. That’s an understatement! What a wonderful wonderful post.4/4/20
- Linda MockeridgeIt was a delight to hear what you and Charlene are doing. I would think your writing group would want to hear your stories. I'm sure there are many. Sending love to you and Charlene.4/4/20
- Nancy BurkeSuch a beautiful post, Char and lovely to hear from you, Bob. Love and miss you both.4/3/20
- Janet CarterDear Bob! How wonderful to hear from you directly -- your reflections on your journey and how life is now. Loved the writing from early March, past and present weaving together. Big love to you!, Janet4/3/20
- Susan ArnesenDelightful Bob! Lovely to hear your voice and your river remembering.............. what a gift of inspiration and perseverance you and your family offer us all. Sending you, Charlene and your family much love. Rejoice !! Susan4/3/20
- Becky HazellI'd Just been thinking about you and Charlene and wishing for an update, and here you are writing in person! Such a happy surprise. And heartfelt wishes for your continued recovery. You two and your family are so brave! Love, Becky (and Mark)4/3/20
- Jane ArthurWow! What a wonderful gift to see your potent, penetrating words on a page! Thank you Bob for sharing your ongoing courage. You and your whole family continue to inspire me and teach me about deep love and the power of recognizing our connections. Sending much love to you all.4/3/20
- Lea StotlandI’m so glad to hear from you, Bob! Much love to both of you.4/3/20
- Evelyn BorchertBeautiful, Bob, thanks so much for sharing this with us. So much love to you and Charlene. ❤️☀️4/3/20
- Mary GoodellBob, this is wonderful! I've been thinking so strongly of you and Charlene this past week, planning to call every day, and then this appears. What a gift - please keep writing, I want more. Love to both of you, Mary4/3/20
- Joel MandelIt is SO good to see that you are back! Hard, worthwhile work. Thank you for being an inspiration to me.4/3/20
- G Van GilsGood going, Bob. Wish you all the best. Praying for you. G4/2/20
- Judith WeatherlyAfter reading what was such a moving piece of you, Bob, I could feel myself relax and be more at ease in my body--knowing you truly are back! Thank you for fighting so hard and for so long. And thanks to all the loving people who traveled with you. I look forward to more of you and your stories as you continue to move forward. Big HUG!4/2/20
- Marie EndresSo good to hear you are feeling much better and stronger. Great to get to appreciate your writings as well dear Bob. Much gratitude to you Charlene. Healing air hugs to you both, Marie Endres4/2/20
- barry solomonDude, You are back. "Jack's back."..Such good news. I am so happy to hear this. Of course just in time for the global pandemic. My mom used to say, if it is not one thing, it is another. Anyhow, all the best health and happinesses to you, to Charline, and the boys. Absolutely amazing and fantastic.4/2/20
- Gayle Van GilsBob, so wonderful to hear from you in your own voice. Although it has been a long road, it feels like a miracle that you are back!! Sending love snd wishes for your continued good health, and the good health of Charlene and your boys! Hugs- Gayle and G Van Gils4/2/20
- Tara NooneBob, you are a beautiful writer. This was really exceptional --- you helped me see and feel what you saw and felt. What a blessing to have you and your writing in the world.4/2/20
- Christina SearsI’m tearful reading this. What a year. What a journey. Please continue to write. We wish to hear it all. Sending you both virtual hugs. You are both treasures.4/2/20
- Janet TeelDear Bob and Charlene, What a joy is was to read this entry, written by Bob himself! I have to say, Bob, that after reading about your daily routine, I don't know if I could keep up with you! The two of you have climbed a formidable mountain, and although there will still be peaks and valleys, you have summited and come through the storm. (Why is it that I start thinking in metaphors with you?) Bob, you will always be a writer (of course your group will want you!), and a story-teller. And what stories you have to tell! I can't help but think of the irony, that after your lengthy rehabilitation and isolation, just as you are re-claiming your life, we are all being asked to maintain our distance from once another. One day, when we can all emerge from our cocoons, we would love to see you. As you know, Steve has great empathy with your experience, and joins me in congratulating you for all you have achieved, thus far. He will be the first to tell you that rebuilding the pathways of the brain is an ongoing process. Sometimes changes are not noticeable in the short-term, but the long-term progress is truly incredible! Much love to you both, Steven, Gabe, and Ally. Family is everything. Janet & Steve4/2/20
- Manuel MedeirosMy God, Bob! That was beautiful! I am so inspired by your courage and persistence. I’m so moved by Charlene’s love and devotion to you. Thank you for what you’ve shared and for generosity in doing so. I really look forward to seeing you sometime in the future. Take care of yourselves during these challenging times. Much love to you both, Manny4/2/20
- Cynthia BarbacciaBob, so very glad you're surrounded by love and the dedication of family to help you over the last many months; it seems you're fully enjoying life in your body again, with a vibrant and calm mind. E ma ho!4/2/20
- marcia ClayburgYou are amazing!!!!!!!4/2/20
- Diana ShaneBob and Char, I hope you don't mind but Bob's entry was so inspiring I shared it on my Facebook page. If you'd rather not have it posted there, I'll remove it.4/2/20
- Diana ShaneDear Bob, wow, I hardly know what to say. Hearing from you directly is so amazing and wonderful and makes me want to cry, because of all that you, Charlene and your family have experienced this past year. It gives me a great sense of optimism in the middle of this strange time. Hope that we will all have the chance to be together in some way once again, I so miss being with the greater sangha. Sending much love to you and Charlene.4/2/20
- Alex VlasicBob, it is so so wonderful to read your own words and hear how you are doing. Thank you for sharing your writing and your journey with us. Kate and I are so happy that your recovery has been going so well in more recent months. We love you!4/2/20
- Theresa LewSo happy that you are writing again and making major strides in your long journey to recovery! Thank you for sharing - it was so wonderful to read your words during this crazy and unsettling time.4/2/20
- Teri LeungI think and pray for al of you everyday. I so missed your bear hugs and your smile. Reading this helps put my mind at ease again knowing you are better and getting better everyday. I know it has been a long hard road for all of you. Your continued love amongst each other has kept you all very connected spiritually and emotionally. I love you all so very much and can't wait to hug and see you all again. Sending hugs and kisses, love you Teri4/2/20
- Stacy UyedaThis is wonderful news, Bob. Your family is amazing! What a strange world we're in, now. Sending you loving-kindness, Stacy and the Uyeda-Hale Family4/2/20
- Michaela McCormickGood to know you're coming out the other side, Bob. It's taken a bit of lungta, eh? Well done! Love, Michaela4/2/20
- Lucille CelestinoI am so grateful for this platform that allowed us not to be left behind as you recovered from the fall but allowed us to cheer you on and share in your ups and downs. Thank you for permitting us these snapshots into your lives the past year Bob & Charlene. And welcome back Bob! Love & hugs to you both.4/2/20
- Barbara CreechSo great to hear from you Bob. I loved your writing. Reading your post was a delight on the midst of such a difficult time we’re all in. ❤️4/2/20
- Faith MillerWow, it's incredible to see this message from you, Bob! To hear your voice. To learn how strong you have become and how well you and Charlene are doing. Please keep writing and sharing with us! Much love, Faith4/2/20
- Jill LodwigIt feels like a miracle to be reading your words, Bob. I'm astounded by your and your family's perseverance. So inspiring.4/2/20
- connie M. croninBob, So wonderful to hear from you! Thrilled you are recuperating so well.4/2/20
- Cintra Harbach♥️♥️♥️4/2/20
- Lisa RhodeBob, I'm sooo happy to hear that you're doing so well. My heart is lighter and full of wonder at how well you and Charlene have weathered these challenges. I envy you those beautiful walks. Say hi to Tilden Park for me. :-)4/2/20