In 2014, Adolf B., one of the original Bridges volunteers, sent along this email:
“I came across this quote come from Eleanor Roosevelt, and it struck me as true of Bridges. It is:
‘Age needs the company of youth.’”
And a response from, Bob, another volunteer:
“Youth needs the company of age.”
Bob J. was a longtime Bridges volunteer – who crossed his town’s geographical boundaries – to share his love, twinkling eyes, gentle laugh, caring attention and great wisdom with students in another town.
At our first Bridges Together fundraiser, we did a vignette about veterans – and Jeff Klinger who was a board member and helped coordinate the event – decided to honor Bob. It began a deep friendship between these wonderful men. Another example of how people become members of BT’s Circle of Love – and lives are transformed! Bob passed away right around our spring fundraiser – aptly called – Circle of Love – this spring. I was blessed to able to go and pay respects and meet some of his family. I was impressed that his son shared with me – not only how much Bob loved the program – but the different lesson themes and what Bob would share each week. The impact of the Bridges program is profound on all – youth, elders AND their families!
Read on from this reflective letter from Jeff.
One of the perhaps under-appreciated aspects of the Bridges program is being introduced to so many wonderful, interesting people (of all ages). And, if you’re lucky, those acquaintances grow into friendships. So it was when several years ago Bob J. of Wayland welcomed me, and guided me as a volunteer in Bridges. I was the “kid”; he was the “adult.” He was very reluctant to participate in a Memorial Day presentation, despite his noteworthy service as a WWII Army veteran. I take it as a triumph that I was able to persuade him to join in, representing that “greatest of generations.” This became of of the first milestones for Bob that allowed him to share so many memories, many painful, all poignant.
Based on our growing friendship, unknown to Bob, I began assembling a “shadow box” display of his war memorabilia including medals and insignia. When I presented this to him, he was literally speechless. This object became another focal point that assisted in sharing with family and friends those important recollections from long ago.
I only knew Bob for the last six years of his life. Of course for me, I count that period as the “best” years of his life! I guess we were both lucky for this friendship…”brief but deep.” He was vital, wise, caring, thoughtful, and witty (understatement) virtually until the last hours of his life. Bob died peacefully and gracefully on April 27, 2018.
Those of us who were counted as his friends were blessed and enriched.
Wise and gentle friend: Hail and Farewell.