is for Robert Quinlan.
He was Robert (Bob) Quinlan when we met in 1956. We were in the sixth grade. Bob changed his surname to Watson when he joined the Air Force.
Bob and I didn’t see each other during the four or five years we were both in the service. We reconnected briefly in college, then went off to pursue careers, marriages, and raising families.
Bob found me on Facebook in May 2010. We exchanged Facebook messages, emails, and met in Redding in June of that year.
I was interested and amused to learn that Bob is a nostalgia “junkie.” He followed our hometown newspaper, forwarding links to articles about the schools and colleges we attended, articles about and obituaries of former classmates and their families. We talked about plans to attend our high school class of 1962 fifty year reunion in August 2012.
Neither of us thought about the significance of our reconnection except to acknowledge that we shared a common history and that it was important to keep the history alive.
We didn’t expect a tragedy in Bob’s life to cast our connection into an uncharted dimension.
Visiting Bob in the hospital was tough. Weak and badly scarred, he spoke with difficulty and then, only in the softest whisper. “In my wildest dreams,” I said to Bob, “I never imagined that we would be connected in this way.” Overcome with emotion, tears filled Bob’s eyes and ran down his face.
I visited two or more times while Bob was hospitalized, then for a week at a time when he was again at home. Bob’s daughter, Dawn, and her husband, Keith, assumed responsibility for Bob’s care. It is uncertain what the future holds for Bob. I wanted to help them in whatever way I could.
I had no idea reconnecting with Bob would bring me so close to his life. I am a spiritual—not religious—person. I don’t understand how or why the Universe planned and effected our reconnection. In spite of doubt or confusion, I feel confident that the plan is unfolding as it should.