A Tender Tribute To A Very Special Reader
This one goes out to the man I never met, to the man who read my stories, loved my work and now is gone forever. Your name was Robert Terrance Brooks Sr. and you were my editor Rob Brooks’ father.
I had known of your decline for months through conversations with your son but when the text came that you had breathed your last, I gently placed my phone on the table, put my head in my hands and let the soft tears flow. Not a blubbering sob but the overflow of sadness that has to vent somehow, has to leave the body somewhere, always coming out through the tear ducts in an uncontrolled dribble. We actually never met face to face but I grieved your passing all the same.
It has always been an interesting phenomenon of being a writer that I am never there to see my audience’s reaction. I send my work off, your son publishes it, a few people leave comments and then I move on. Yet you would always give me feedback, say what you loved and were the face of my distant, unseen audience so when I joked in multiple stories that I had only two readers, you were one and Rob’s mother, your wife Nancy was the other. You were one of the few people I could talk to that gave me the joy of learning how my work affected people. Sometimes it was over a phone call, occasionally a FaceTime but every time you let me know how much you enjoyed my work.
A couple of the Triumphs Bob owned while Rob and his brothers were growing up.
Had I been born decades earlier, we would have been friends because you were a motorcycle hooligan before the word was invented. Back in the day you were a master mechanic, a greaser, a G.I. who while stationed in Okinawa still managed to find a Cushman motorbike with which to terrorize the island base. In typical hooligan fashion you milled the heads, ran 115 octane av-gas siphoned from the air base, used tires stripped from the landing gear of an F-101 Voodoo jet fighter and junked the exhaust until the military police said they’d had enough. You sir, were my kind of people.
What I wouldn’t have given to see you in person before you passed. The phone calls and FaceTimes we shared were not the same as a face to face meeting, a firm handshake and a “Glad to finally meet you,” because though we were hooligans from different eras we were- and still are- hooligans all the same.
Here I shed my tender tear in front of my last remaining reader for the grand old hooligan I never met. May you find a Cushman in Heaven, stacks of landing gear tires and an endless supply of av-gas.
And in that Heaven, someday soon, we will finally meet.
Bob & Nancy Brooks, avid motorcyclists until they hung up the leathers in 2018. His cherished legacy lives on with his beloved wife, three sons, and four grandchildren. May you ride the streets of gold.
My heart is full, but my words are few. My beloved father’s passing is still too raw and immediate for me to adequately put into words the grief and loss I am feeling. Those of you who have buried a loved one know that ache all too well. The words will come, and I will share them.
Until then, I thank you Ted, from the bottom of my heart. This meant the world to me. I love you like a brother. And to those of you who read our musings here at Road Dirt, thank you for the heartfelt condolences we’ve already received from so many. You are why we keep sharing stories from the road.