This week has been quite the journey with Greg’s dad, Bob. Last Saturday this independent, sweet 94 year old man had a heart attack which caused a fall. The gash on the back of his head, while alarming, was easily closed. The weakening of his heart was a different matter. For several years we his family have known that a time was approaching when Dad Moore’s heart would give out, due to an age related condition that had no treatment, no cure. In spite of the difficulties this week, watching as he slipped away, and the weariness that has accompanied daily trips to and from the hospital in Arkansas, it has been a precious time of sitting with Dad, chatting, listening to stories from his past and simply holding his hand while he slept.
The shadow of death that crept over his familiar features could not dim the smile that appeared each time we walked into his hospital room. Nor could it dispel his courteous concern for the welfare of everyone else around him, including the medical staff and the host of people who brought his meals, cleaned his room, changed his bed sheets. Until late last night, he was still thanking us, and others, expressing genuine gratitude for the care he had been given, whispering that he loved us. He even cracked a couple of jokes, giving us a last glimpse of his well known sense of humor.
Early this morning, Bob K Moore’s earthly journey came to an end, and he shed the worn out body that had weighed him down. He soared, free. The thought that entered my mind at his time of death was that a great man had entered into legend. I think I must have retained that line from one of the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies, where mighty men doing good deeds pass from life into legend. Great stories are told of such men, and they are remembered for their acts, both grand and small. Today those stories of this mighty man began immediately, from tearful nurses who had known Dad a week, to long time friends and family members who have always had this man of strength and character in their lives.
Bob was born February 20, 1921 as the second son to William and Ruby Moore. He had an older brother, Bill. On November 21, 1941, he married his sweetheart, Leta Mae Davidson. They had two sons, Ray and Greg. Bob served his country for a little over three years in the Navy, working as an aviation machinist. His love for aircraft, although already present before this time, bloomed into a lifelong passion. Moving their family to Noel, Missouri, Bob and Leta, along with his parents, opened and operated a drive-in south of town, specializing in barbeque meats and hamburgers. Later his love of flying led him to Peterson Industries in Decatur, AR, where he worked until retirement as an airplane mechanic and pilot, flying baby chickens and personnel all over the US.
Those are some of the facts about Bob. And while they are accurate, they tell little about how he lived his life, about how much he cared for others, and how generous he was with all that he had, including his time. I love the quote that says, “It isn’t the date on either end that counts, but how they used their dash, for that dash between the dates represents all the time they spent alive on earth.” February 20, 1921 – July 31, 2015. It is the dash that matters, it’s where Dad’s life was lived.
I met Bob and Leta Moore when their son, Greg, took me to their home on a Sunday afternoon after church. At age 16, I didn’t make an outstanding impression, I’m sure, my shyness and thoughtfulness keeping me quiet, especially after “the incident”. I followed Greg into his bedroom before dinner, and embarrased when he said he needed to change clothes, stepped willingly into the closet and closed the door, while he changed. Long moments passed. When I heard Greg’s parents ask, “Where’s Cindy?” I suddenly wished that the closet would morph into the wardrobe in Narnia so I could make my escape. Instead, I stood there, eyes big, as the Moores opened the closet door and peered in at me, puzzled by my unusual behavior. What thoughts must have gone through their minds! They accepted me anyway, and loved me as a daughter when I became their daughter-in-law three years later.
Dad Moore has had a huge impact on my life. He taught me how to fish and fry them up, and how to make his famous peanut brittle. He chased away my fear of flying, allowing me to sit in the co-pilot seat several times during flights with him. His wit was already legendary when I met him. I heard tales of his adventures as a youth and saw the pictures, his face lit up in a wide grin as his gaze met the camera as he met the world, full of grace and good humor and an infectious charm. He taught me to see the world as a good place, full of people with good hearts, and to offer to others out of the goodness in me.
His loving heart was as remarkable as his sense of humor. He cared deeply for others, and put actions behind his love. I can’t begin to list all the people that he has helped over the years, always without a thought for being helped in return, never with the expectation of repayment of any kind. Did people take advantage of this good man? Yes, they did. That didn’t tarnish his desire to help those in genuine need, it only revealed the darkness in some, while allowing his light to shine brightly.
Dad was a family man. He loved his sweet wife, cared for her at home until her death in 1999. Before her passing, they were one, truly….BobandLeta. You couldn’t say one name without saying the other, so often did they serve and work and play together. Her death from Alzheimer’s was surely one of the most difficult journeys in his life, and yet I never heard him complain or bemoan his fate. And then he was Bob, alone….the woman that was one with him gone from him for 16 years. One of the happiest thoughts I held today was imaging their reunion. They are BobandLeta once more.
My children adored their Papa Bob. He played with them, took them fishing as well, flew them in his airplanes and when the planes were grounded, allowed them to play in the hangar. How their imaginations soared as they sat in the cockpit, pretending to fly. They have their own stories to tell, how Papa snored at night, making them giggle, how he and Mimi took them to the Wildlife Safari, and fixed them chocolate milk with vanilla ice cream in it for breakfast. I am beyond grateful that the children, now grown, spent Sunday afternoon with their Papa, hearing his stories again, loving on him, making memories.
I think Dad’s greatest life lesson to me was demonstrating how to walk with faith and hope and perseverance, believing the best about people, laughing at the joys that appeared, weathering the challenges that arose with grace and dignity. He walked with God without making demands. He expressed gratitude instead for what he had. He didn’t linger on what was wrong. He focused on what was right. He remained a man of integrity and hope, true to who he was, even when his physical strength began to fail.
The last part of the quote, that I wrote above, says, “And now only those who loved them know what that little line…that dash…is worth.” I know. Greg and our children and their children know. Friends and other family members know. So many years, so much life, so much love, captured in a beautiful lifetime, the life of Bob Moore. Thank you, Dad Moore, for all that you have taught me, all the love you have shown me. The world was enriched by your presence. I was enriched. Go brightly into the night and soar high into the Heavens. And shine on us until we see you again.