Good afternoon. I’m Suzy Barile, Bobby’s oldest sister – in fact, the oldest of this clan of Maynard kids! It was just three years ago in January that we asked you to come mourn with us the untimely death of our youngest sibling, Pattie, and now we are gathered to do the same for the next youngest, Bobby.
Being the oldest means knowing just about everything about the other kids in the family, making me best able to share stories from our childhood. You’re probably aware that Bobby has an older twin, Tommy. Friends of theirs are lucky they weren’t named ALOYSIUS and DELICIOUS or BERNIE and GERNIE, for at bedtime on the nights leading up to their February 23, 1966, birth, we’d dream up TWIN names! And Bobby and Tommy should consider themselves lucky that they were NOT triplets, as we smartee-pants older siblings would often reply to strangers who’d see them in their double stroller and inquire, “Are they twins,” with “No, they’re triplets. The other one is at home.”
But being twins – and older brothers to Pattie – meant there was double, and sometimes triple, mischief. They taught her how to pull up the bottom of the wooden-floor playpen and escape! They decided to play soccer, and so did she! And they shared a bedroom – with her!
Bobby was the twin who didn’t mind taking a risk – as a new driver’s license holder, he did much of the driving on a summer cross-country trip with our Mom. And when Tommy became interested in volunteering at the Cary Rescue Squad, Bobby headed to YRAC Volunteer Fire Department. Mom even had a scanner at home so she could listen to what they were doing!
Bobby was also the twin who was the most passionate about all he did in life – sorry, Tommy, not that you don’t love your job. But as a volunteer firefighter – and later a volunteer EMT – Bobby was ready to run a call the moment the sirens sounded. As a big brother, he was ready to defend his little sister against any slights. As an uncle, he was there with a pocketful of quarters to hand out to any niece or nephew who proclaimed him “favorite uncle.”
And then a few years ago, he decided to become a long-distance truck-driver so he could travel the roads of this country and see first-hand the history of the United States. With his cat, a small fridge filled with Mello Yellow, a microwave in which to heat his ever-present cup of coffee, and his next assignment, he was like a kid enjoying a never-ending summer vacation. The Facebook posts of his adventures were a joy to read!
Because Bobby and Tommy were just 7 when I went off to college, I wasn’t always around for the “firsts” – the accomplishments we celebrate as children grow, such as riding a bicycle for the first time, scoring that first-ever soccer goal, or going to a school dance and finding the girl of your dreams. Unlike with Donnie, the oldest Maynard boy, I didn’t have to teach Bobby how to swing a bat or catch a baseball, because by the time he needed those skills, our Navy-captain Dad was on shore duty and home to do it.
But as Bobby got his first job and a checking account, I tried to teach him how to understand that just because the ATM machine said you had $200, didn’t mean it could be spent – it might be next week’s car payment money! And because I gave birth to the first niece, he practiced uncle skills on my daughter Jen. Mom let the twins and Pattie play hookey from school the day she was born so they could be home when the phone call came from the hospital in Frederick, Maryland. In fact, my favorite photograph is of him holding month-old Jen in one arm while stirring the gravy for Christmas dinner with the other. The beaming smile on his face when he was with his 10 Maynard nieces and nephews, and those belonging to the Sauls and Proveaux families, let you know how much love he had to share.
It was the bountiful love and compassion he had that was his biggest weakness, for Bobby would give the shirt off his back if someone else needed it. He’d go out of his way to help anyone – even strangers. As such, Bobby’s pockets were often empty, but his heart was bursting with the good that he did. He had the trust of a child, the daring of a teen who never thinks anything will happen to him, and the unconditional love that allowed him to continue loving, even when he had been wronged. I’m not saying he wouldn’t get angry and try to figure out why a wrong had happened, but while I can claim “my mother taught me manners,” and be polite even when I don’t want to be, Bobby was genuine.
This is the brother I will remember, and the person I hope you had the privilege to know, as well.
Posted by Suzy Barile