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Clark Field

The One

Flying Blind


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Hog Killin'

Sunday Call

Tough Birds

Run of Hollow

Robbing Bees

Hay Hauling

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Final Mission

Like About Bob

Exuberant Birds



We grant a certain kind of afterlife to those we remember well.




by Jerry Murley

(I struggle with the past tense and discard it.)

The joy we share is a paradise. We grant a certain afterlife to those we remember well.

Bob is loved and admired by many. We salute our friend and we bleed joy as we do so.

For me, Bob is the good earth. He is the solid ground upon which we stand.

* * *

I have composed a list of what I like about Bob. The list is ever expanding. I recommend this exercise to all, for what we carry and live of the good of others adds to the good in ourselves. What we like about someone abides with us; it becomes a part of us.

I like

Bob's service to country
His loyal friendship
His comfort with quiet
His love of nature
His stewardship on earth
His frugality
His songs and singing
His poetry and recitation
His farm journals recording the harvests, the migrations of birds, house and farm repairs,
    and the books that he has read
His recounted dreams
His wisdom
His humility
His constancy
His perseverance
His forbearance
His distance
His presence
His courtesy to visitors
His deference to experienced elders
His incredible memory
His pursuit of family history
His taste for gritty humor
His appreciation of help rendered
His ferociousness and his gentleness

I like his ready supply of imaginative sayings to aptly fit every situation:

    Play the wild
    Keep your tail feathers up.
    Clear right
    Hot rail
    Does a monkey have a behind?
    The tall and uncut
    The New Guinea stomp

His identifying trees for me whenever we walk the hills mending fences

His teaching about
    Bees & honey
    Using leverage

His bluebird boxes

The smell of hay and manure amid the heavy breathing and steam of feeding cows

His lifelong respect and support of education

His strong-featured face and big, strong hands

His complexity and his simple ways

His influence on us and our friends, showing us what steady work and commitment to home and family mean

His generosity to family, guests, and friends of family: making his front porch, his den, and his kitchen table at home on the farm a required station for any friend visiting the area

His firm belief in honor and the proper ways to settle disagreements among neighbors, friends, and co-workers

His fidelity to his word

His war stories, full of fear, amazing good luck, and self-deprecating comic relief: his pedal to the metal after a long, dangerous bombing run replete with ack-ack; his falling in a deep kitchen refuse ditch at night after a grueling mission

His farm stories, full of details and funny story-telling gestures repeated at every telling: his hands gripping the neck of a neighbor's runaway emu

His chewing out farm animals and sons-in-law for sub-standard work

His gratitude to his wife and his daughters who cared for him so capably and honorably in his final months

My list of likes is long. But I will end it in deference to Bob:

I like Bob's common sense. He would not think it worthwhile to keep friends and relatives waiting for long-winded speeches.

* * *

We are not accountants of love. We cannot tally and balance gives and gets. To do so would diminish generosity and gratitude. We embrace love without fully comprehending it.

Now, and forevermore, let us find peace, respect, joy, steady purpose, and serene rest in our homes and lives. Remembering well is doing well by friends departed. "Keep your tail feathers up": that is Bob's enduring guidance for the conduct of our lives.


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