I’m veering into the personal with today’s post. Earlier this week I found out that a dear friend passed away unexpectedly, and while my heart breaks for his family, I’m still reeling from the news. Death is not a stranger, I wish I could say it was, but it has dropped by with uncomfortable regularity in the last few years. This time, when it departed, it took with it a life well lived.
Bob Hamm had two unending passions: his wife and three girls, and education.
If you knew him, you were left in no doubt of his love for his wife of 37 years and his three beautiful girls. He was a beaming poppa every time his girls conquered another challenge or captured a goal. He was an unending well of optimism and quick to share a laugh. He was someone I could talk endlessly with about story structure and English grammar, and not ever worry that his attention would wander. I did have to keep my use of exclamation marks in check, and was always careful to double, and triple, check comma placement or verify the correct verb tense usage.
The man was the epitome of a teacher. Not just because he taught high school English in such a way that it left lasting impressions (we’re talking years and years later impressions) on the minds under his tutelage, but because he believed in forever being a student of the world we live in. He traveled the globe, he picked up pieces of art that spoke to him and lovingly collected maps that told our history in lines and wiggles (at least to my untrained eye). He recently shared that love in his book, “Becoming Oregon”. In his downtime he played in the earth, intent on nurturing Mother Nature’s leafy children, was an avid environmentalist, and remained an untiring champion of education.
While Bob and I met through work, it wasn’t long before I counted him as a friend. Even though my heart breaks at his departure, I treasure the example he unknowingly set of living a life well lived, and loving every minute of it. While it is always difficult to say good-bye to those who leave such lasting impressions, it is our responsibility to share their legacy.
Our loss is heaven’s gain.
Until the next journey, Bob.