My first memory of Robbie is as a little boy and me trying to take his hand. I’m not sure if he saw the proffered gesture as he marched off imperiously in his tennis whites to find his father. And that was pretty much how it was with us for a while. We butted heads.
Any attempts to parent him were met with silent but civil disobedience – the sort of disobedience which wasn’t overtly obvious to his father.
As a blended family, Robbie’s weekend visits were a push, pull of exhausting mental gymnastics. I despaired at how a small child could be so contrary. I was to wish for the days of contrary by the time the gibberish years hit – teenagedom.
Through this phase, we settled into a routine of me not being disobeyed and Robbie not liking it.
Then something curious happened.
I began to really look forward to Robbie’s visits. Highly intelligent and scientific, Robbie shed light on subjects we had hitherto thought uninteresting and unfathomable. We also found common ground in our love of tech, computers and gadgets.
Robbie had gone from boy to man… to the man his father would have been proud of today.
This was no more apparent than at his father’s funeral service, and is a story about Robbie which is burnt into my memory. I have recounted it before, but would like to do so again on the auspicious occasion of Robbie’s 30th birthday this 24th day of April 2017.
My nephew had become undone at Bronnie’s service and tried to rally valiantly as he took his place at the rostrum to make a short reading.
Except he couldn’t do it.
He dissolved into inconsolable tears and wasn’t able to recover. He epitomised how wretched we all felt as stiff upper lips gave way across the congregation.
The Vicar told Robbie to go and take over from my nephew. To rescue him, if you will.
Robbie got up and walked onto the platform. My nephew looked up gratefully, folded his reading and prepared to give up the rostrum to Robbie. However, Robbie put his arm around him, held him fast in place and said to him quietly…
“You can do this.”
He then proceeded to say each line of the reading quietly under his breath, and then got my nephew to follow.
That is how my nephew got through the reading.
This is important and special to me, why?
Because Bronnie, my husband and Robbie’s father, empowered people. He made them feel they could do anything. He didn’t do it for them, he gave them the belief and mental strength to follow through for themselves.
Robbie has turned into that man.
A man I was proud to have hold my hand as we sat through his father’s service.
I love my family and am desperately proud of the adults our children have become. Again, if these people were not related to me, I would choose to spend time with them.
And I am beyond proud having Robbie as the man heading up all of our disparate personalities. The man at the head of our family.
Happy 30th birthday, Robbie. I love you. Mx