Okay, if you’ve heard me present or read any of my books, you’ll likely remember Barb, my favorite nurse from my tour of duty in Barnes-Jewish Hospital. And if you’re especially familiar with “I’m Here”, you may remember that it’s dedicated to Barb and to the memory of her son, Mark. Mark passed away in 2007 at age 24 from a rare form of testicular cancer. I knew when dedicating the book that the best way to honor Barb was also to honor Mark’s memory. Presenting Barb with the first copy of “I’m Here” was one of the most special moments of my life.
And the cool thing is this: Barb is my friend. She’s not just a character in a book or a person I used to know. When she and her family come to Florida, The Hottness (aka @marvelyne) and I always try to see them on “our turf.” This also goes for visiting with she and her husband when we’re in STL. Barb has increased my friendship with a lot of folks, including her sis Debe and her mother, Joyce and all the men that go along with them (and that could be a challenge of it’s own with this lively group!)
Last week, after three days of speaking at Barnes-Jewish, I was ready to unwind with Barb and all her peeps at my favorite place on The Hill, Cuenetto’s. And, I got to meet Bob.
Bob is an 87 year old widower who pals around with Barb’s mom. He’s a World War II vet and a really great guy. And I hope when I’m 87, I’m as sharp as he is. Heck, I wish I were as sharp at 37!
Over ginormous bowls of pasta, Bob presented me with a gift, a handcrafted comfort cross. See, Bob is an expert woodworker and creates these crosses for, well, anyone who wants/needs one. It’s about 8” long and is smooth black walnut. It’s also crafted in such a way that it’s tangibly appealing in the hand. Kind of like a worry stone. The grooves are perfect and, when you touch this masterpiece, it’s so apparent why one would want to hold this object. It’s truly one of the most special gifts I’ve ever received.
Mark: Barb’s son’s passing wasn’t a surprise. It was a recurrence of an earlier cancer, which he beat for several years. When it returned, Mark made the courageous decision to take control of his life… and not fight the cancer. When Mark was re-diagnosed, Bob also made a compassion cross for Mark. It is the only item Mark requested be placed in his casket. That’s just how special Bob’s art is.
I just wanted to publicly acknowledge this gift and explain why it’s just another reason that my return to Barnes-Jewish was so special (more on that later.)
Thank you, Bob… this is a gift I’ll cherish!