I’ve been trying to write for several days now and I just couldn’t. This is probably the most painful thing I’ve written about so I’m going to treat it like a band-aid and just rip it off.
I’m the baby of the family or kid # 6. My parents numbered us for fun and it kind of stuck.There’s Janel and Gwen, kids #5 and #4. Greg and Gary kids #3 and #2 and Roger kid #1. Roger passed away last week.
When we were living in Italy Roger and I were roommates. He was in highschool I was in kindergarten. Quite an age gap. I would have to go to bed before him so I would fill his bed whatever toys I had handy. He would come in every night, pull down his covers and clear off his bed before going to sleep. He tolerated an obnoxious 5 year old.
All that time together we bonded, a bond that seemed closer to him than with my other siblings. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of them with all my heart but Rog and I just fit together. I’ve always looked up to my older brothers. I can remember when I was in fifth grade Gary was a machinist , I thought that was cool so when the class started learning how to do taxes The profession I chose to list was a machinist. When I got into highschool Greg was an electronics technician, I thought that was cool so I took electronics. When I was fifteen one summer I worked for Rog. He was a car painter. I found out that I really liked working with my hands . I also found out that Roger was really an automotive artist. I could sit and watch him pinstripe a car for hours. He ignited a love of old cars that I still have today.
That’s my Uncle’s PT Cruiser that he painted for him. There are many, many modifications on it. Roger did most of them. The car was published in a magazine. I learned from Rog that I could handle tools and make stuff that I could be proud of. I pretty much bombed out of Junior High shop class. But he was patient with me and I learned. If I had chosen a different path in life I would probably have ended up a body man also. I love doing the work, I find it fun. I used to go to his shops all the time to try to do what really turned out to be a hobby for me. Probably too much time.
Over the years I always wanted one of his custom cars but it just never really worked out. He was always trying to teach me and there was just not enough time in my schedule. I can do some of the work, but I wasn’t able to emulate all of his abilities. I’m just not as talented at it as he was.
Roger was also a very talented artist. The car is the car he was working on at the time of his death. It’s not how the customer wanted it, it’s just what he would have liked to do with it. That’s a scan of a photocopy so there is a lot of detail that was lost in the process. I’m going to borrow some of his other art and scan the originals, I’ll post them later. They are simply amazing.
Well, that was the easy part where I talked about his talents. Now I have to talk about his death. That day I got a call from Gwen telling me he was in intensive care. I knew he had an infection that he wasn’t taking care so I’ve kind of been expecting that. I get to the hospital and and find Rog. I walked in and he thanked me for coming and asked me if I had done anything to my truck. We chatted along those lines for a few minutes and I could see he was tired so I told him to get some rest and I would talk to him in a little while. I found my parents and proceeded to get the real story about his health. From the stuff they were telling me I knew that the outcome was at best going to be maybe an amputation and maybe dialysis. I waited for another chance to go back in to talk to him but he had to go down for an MRI. While he was down there we heard it “CODE BLUE TO MRI”. I knew it was him. The social workers began to show up and they walked my parents, sisters and I down to where they were working on him. I could hear them working , sounds which I never want to hear again. The Doctor came out and calmly told us that he was gone. Just like that, he was gone. Next thing I knew I was standing over his body watching my shell shocked parents try to digest what just happened. I never got to talk to him again. I should have told him I loved him. I tried to be strong for my parents, trying to comfort them. I eventually left the hospital and I managed to keep it together until I got home . I crumbled in my wife’s arms. The first time she had seen me cry. Through all this she has been my steadying force. I thank God he put her in my life. I needed her.
Roger was kind and generous and almost everyone he met liked him. I miss him and will continue to use the talents he taught me.