Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tribute to a BIG Buddy

Today was a painful one in my life. I went to the visitation of an old friend from my hometown. Much like many friends from my hometown, we had somewhat fallen out of touch except when he needed a little computer help or if we ran into each other in a store (or most recently at the Farm Show in the Dakota Dome).

Big Bob, Whomp, Tiny, or simply Bob, he would answer to anything. Robert Jensen was a big man in man ways, not just stature. Although (I'm guessing here) at approximately 6'6" and some 400 lbs. he definitely stood out in a crowd. At the visitation one of his big black shirts hung over one of the poster boards and simply said: "I'm big, you're small. Have a nice day". That was Bob in a nutshell. I'd like to take a few minutes to recap some of my favorite memories in a tribute to Bob:

1. All the trips. Bob is (was) 13 years older than I am and actually did quite a bit with my older brothers. When my brothers moved away however, Bob would call on Saturday's and take me on mini vacations out of Wakonda. We would go to Sioux Falls, Yankton, Vermillion, Sioux City, and various other locations. We always had a good time when we would go somewhere. One great memory is hard to explain: Bob would floor the gas pedal between the county line 3 miles east of Wakonda to the top of the big hill (approximately 1/4 mile) that sloped down to the flat remaining two miles going into Wakonda, shift it in to neutral and try to coast the remaining way into Wakonda. I know, it is a weird memory, but it still makes me smile today. Especially the times we actually made it! Creeping into the "Welcome to Wakonda" sign at about 3 miles an hour.

2. One word: CANNONBALL! - Growing up, the Wakonda pool had a high dive, before increased insurance rates forced the current far shorter diving board. When Bob would stand on the edge of that board I swear that thing would go half way down to the water. Then it would happen: he would jump, tuck his legs in, and...CANNONBALL! I was a lifeguard and I can't tell you the number of times I was hit by this tsunami of man-made proportions. The water displacement was incredible and he had the art of the cannonball down to an exact science.

3. Pickup Basketball - So, how do you guard somebody who is roughly as big around as a tree and actually moved fairly nimbly? I never did figure out the answer to that question. I was more than happy when he was on MY side. The big lefty had a sweet touch as well, from the inside and the outside.

4. Weekend and Summer Movies @ the Jensen House - It wasn't just the movies that I remember with Bob and Roger, it was the fact that they were on Betamax. Betamax was going to take over the world according to Bob and Roger. Ah...memories. However, they had many movies back in the day when most people didn't. So I spent many a weekend watching movies at the Jensen's.

5. Eating stories - How can their not be some eating stories with a man this size? One actually includes my oldest brother and Bob. They were actually kicked out of a Pizza joint at an all you can eat NOT because of Bob, but because of my brother. That's right, my skinny (at that time anyway) brother got them both kicked out of an all you can eat pizzeria because of the amount of pizza he packed away! There are others, but that one is the one that gets passed around my family the most.

There is so much more to Bob's life than the simple obituary and condolences page at the Hansen Funeral Home website. Bob left a mark on so many lives in so many ways. A true gentle giant and just plain wonderful human being. Bob, I'll miss you. At a mere 53 years old, you left this world far to early and you had so much more to give this world. So many more lives to touch. Tears don't flow without reason and I'm not ashamed that they flow for you my friend. You will live on through all the people you touched.

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