Jacob’s Ladder: Remembering RobertOct 17th, 2013 | By Admin | Category: Editorials
Friday, Oct. 18, would have been my brother’s 49th birthday. Born Robert William Bembry, Robert was named after my father and after my uncle Billy, whose birthday he shared. Robert died before he was three years old because he had a problem with his lungs. Robert had cystic fibrosis. Advancements today help people with CF live much longer and I am praying that one day a cure for the disease, which affects both the lungs and pancreas, will be found. My youngest sister, Sally, died of CF, years later, when she was 20 months old. Although I was only a little over three years old myself when Robert died and nine when Sally died, I remember both of them. Memories of Robert are hazy and fuzzy but I do remember playing with my first playmate and my first buddy. My parents told me the story of finding the two of us, throwing lemons out the back door. They asked us why we were throwing the lemons out, “Because they’re spoiled,” we replied. “They’re sour.” Robert had quite a sense of humor. A television commercial for Hawaiian Punch was popular back then. In the commercial, a cartoon character would walk up to someone and ask them if they would like a Hawaiian Punch and they would reply, “Yes,” so he would punch them. Robert would ask people if they would like a “high wide punch” and then he would punch them, though his little hands were not that strong or hard. Robert also loved the Nancy Sinatra song, “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” He had a pair of cowboy boots and he would tell one of our aunts, “Mamie Ann, these boots are going to walk all over you.” His threat would be met with laughter. The memory that is most vivid of Robert is when he and I were playing and he said he didn’t feel good and he vomited. I can remember feeling sorry for him at the time, although I didn’t know why. There was really no reason to feel sorry for Robert. He got to go meet the Lord before he turned three. He died between Monticello and Tallahassee as he was being transported by ambulance from Madison to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. My parents knew the tragedy of losing three children, including the sister that would die before Robert. Susie was born premature and died two months after she was born. You can help children and adults, who are living with cystic fibrosis, by donating to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at www.cff.org or making a check or money order payable to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at 6931 Arlington Road, Suite 200 Bethesda, Maryland 20814.