Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cousin Robert

Robert Dirks died a little before 11 a.m. on 10-1-10, aged 80. He'd had steadily progressing emphysema for some years and lately had begun to go downhill rather quickly so I don't think many were surprised at his death.

But Death always makes you think about the loved person who died. There is almost a movie running through my head of one particular incident...

Robert was the son of my mother's brother, Lee; thus we were first cousins. My mother was particularly adored by her eight older brothers, so I kind of rode in on her coat tails.

Robert's older brother Jim's family was celebrating his 75th (?) birthday with a luncheon at a famous restaurant in Austin. We were invited, but Richie had to work so I went solo.

Robert picked me up at the airport, tossed my carry-on bag in the back of his pick-up (I don't think he ever drove a sedan-type car) and off we went. The restaurant was set in an old, historic house and various rooms were set out for private parties.

The maitre'd greeted us --- he and Robert exchanged curt nods of their heads. They reminded me of a pair of Spanish grandees. Soon the entire party was seated around a massive old table and the food began arriving.

After the meal, after the toasts, I slipped out to the parking lot for a cigarette. I was contendedly puffing away when suddenly the front door of the mansion burst open and Robert came running out with Jim right behind him. They were making considerable speed for a pair of 75 and 70 year old men!

Jim made tremendous leap and wrested something out of Robert's hand -- he would pay that check! The brothers began wrestling around to the horror of a party of arriving guests. I laughed, flapped a dismissing hand at the pair (shirttails out, audibly panting) and said, "It's okay -- they're brothers." Drawing disdainfully away, they stomped sternly on into the restaurant.

Later Robert drove me to my hotel, insisted on driving me to my room (it was a huge complex with buildings surrounding a gigantic pool) insisted on carrying my bag to my room and then doing an inspection of the place, even pulling back the shower curtain to make sure no Bogey Man lurked. I was astounded (and had been protesting all through this) but he drew himself up and said, "May Rapp Dirks (his mother) would spin in her grave did I not make sure you'll be okay here."

Well, now he's dead and gone, but I hope that up in Heaven his mother is praising him for his good manners. He did have beautiful ones. By example, he even taught Richie to open my car door! I nearly fainted with shock the first time he did it, but now I'm accustomed to it. Thank you, Robert! Godspeed!

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