CAMPOut:Fay's Rehoboth Journal
|by Fay Jacobs|
|In honor of Robert Gold
(Author's note: Long-time readers of this column may recall many stories about vacation adventures Bonnie and I shared with our dear friends and travel buddies Robert and Larry. Sadly, Robert passed away March 7 after a courageous 17-year battle with brain cancer. Since this CAMPout journal of mine has always reflected what transpires in my world, it's only fitting that I include the following words for Larry, in honor of Robert).
In our gay community, in addition to our biological families, we often build families of affinity. I'd never had a biological brother but in my nuclear family of affinity I had four. And now there are three. Bonnie and I loved Robert from the minute we met him in 1991. We laughed together at Halloween parties where we were Robert Goldilocks and the Three Bears. We got serious in DC for the 1993 March for Equality, and we luxuriated on three awesome European vacations. Robert and Larry gave us the inspiration and push we needed to move to Rehoboth full-time; and finally, we had the most wonderful adventure of all, our 2003 double wedding in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Robert was loving, funny, and incredibly brave. But certainly, Robert could be a quirky brother.
He had a fanatical obsession with vehicular cleanliness. He had to sell his own black BMW because he couldn't keep it clean enough for his own standards. He once told me he'd never speak to me again if I bought that black Subaru. I did and he forgave me, but continually rolled his eyes when studying, really studying, the splatter of dirt on its hood.
Robert was the only man I've every known to insist on routinely taking vacation rental cars through the car wash. In France, we had to purchase a special sponge so he could properly wipe down the rented car in Provence. We toured castles and car washes. And we learned the translation for Hot Wax in many different languages.
In 1997, the four of us went on a 10-day trip in our 27 ft. boat from Rehoboth to New York Harbor to Fire Island. With every squeal of glee from Bonnie crashing the boat through the waves, we got an expletive from Robert as he grabbed for towels to wipe salt from the bow.
Robert was known for his refreshing, if occasionally astounding honesty. I'm sure he was always
a candid person, but somehow in the late 1990s one of those fantastic surgeons who kept him with us for so long must have removed that little filter from his brainthe one that keeps most of us from saying, out loud, every single thing we think.
Not so our Robert. If he thought the house you were thinking of buying was ugly, he'd tell you. If he hated a paint color you chose, he'd tell you. And he was usually absolutely right.
The day I showed up in my first pair of cropped pantsthe things we old people used to call pedal pushers, I asked Robert if I looked okay in them.
He studied me for an uncomfortably long moment and said, "Yes. Much better than you looked in the shorts yesterday."
I'm going to think about Robert every time I buy a car, every time I pick paint colors, and certainly, every time I go shopping.
I'm also going to celebrate Robert's life by remembering his love for Larry and the strength of their 30-yearTHIRTY YEAR relationshipa great marriage by any standard and one to tell our foolish government about. I'm going to celebrate his great eye for design, his heavy foot on the car's accelerator, his love for his Schnauzer Mitzi and his incredible courage. Where, following a troubling diagnosis, and surgery after surgery, many of us might have given in to depression and given up, Robert kept up his gym regimen, stayed with the Atkins diet, went rambling in England, rafted in Alaska and glowed when Larry bought him a wedding ring. And, with Larry's steadfast and loving help, Robert kept his sarcastic sense of humor until the very, very end.
But there really isn't an end. If you have been riding around Rehoboth in a dirty car, get thee to the carwash as soon as you can. Robert's watching. And I've promised him that Bonnie and I will try to do better. We really will. We're all going to miss himand he will be impossible to forget.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Fryinga Rehoboth Beach Memoir and can be reached at www.fayjacobs.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 3 April 8, 2005