At five-foot-ten he was taller than me with thick wavy black hair and beautiful blue eyes. He would give me grief if I didn’t right away tell you he was a guitar player, and a good one. It’s hard to remember him without his guitar. I had two arms, Bobby had two arms and a guitar. He loved Clapton and Hendrix and Duane Allman. Heartbroken after Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident on October 19, 1971, Bobby was even more heartbroken when he gave away tickets to an upcoming Allman Brothers Concert only to learn, after the concert mind you, that Eric Clapton had taken Duane Allman’s place.
Bobby was a year younger than me. Girls often liked me until they met Bobby with his blue eyes and sweet gentle face. Once a girl named Jody liked me then, of course, fell for Bobby. One time we slept over Jody’s house. I was 14, Bobby 13. The next morning I went down to the kitchen where Jody’s mother was cooking up breakfast. My brother was upstairs sleeping. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” Jody’s mother said.
“How come Jody likes Bobby now and not me?”
“Well, Peter. You have a strong face, strong build. Bobby has a soft young face and he’s slender. I suspect Jody feels somewhat motherly towards him, girls are like that sometimes. They like being motherly.”
“Thank you,” I said to Jody’s mother and rushed upstairs convinced I now had all the ammunition I would need to get Bobby to not like Jody anymore so she’d like me again. I shook him out of a deep sleep. “Hey, wake up, man.”
“You know why Jody likes you?”
“I’m sleeping, man”
“Bobby, this is important. You know why she likes you?”
“You’re not gonna like it.”
Now he is mildly interested. “Why?”
“She wants to be your mother!” There, I’d said it. Now he knew the worst.
“Your mother. She wants to be your mother. Where’s your pride? Ask her mother, man. I just did. She said Jody feels motherly towards you.”
“That’s okay with me.”
“Whattaya mean, that’s okay?!”
“She’s so pretty she can be my mother and grandmother for all I care.” Bobby smiled, winked at me, and went back to sleep.
I was protective over my brother. God help anyone who messed with him. I ever let him fight, jumping in and pummeling the hell out of anyone who dared threaten my brother. Bobby got so mad at me one time because I wouldn’t let him fight he punched me. I didn’t mind. I would’ve protected Bobby from anything or anyone in the world and then some. But I couldn’t protect him from himself. Not on October 4, 1977.
He was living in Kensett, Arkansas. His girlfriend had gone next door to play cards with the neighbors. He’d been drinking. Bobby locked all the doors to the house, sat down in a large chair in the living room, picked up a 22 rifle, placed it against the side of his head and fired, killing himself instantly. He was 23 years old. I was 24.
There are no words.
Hard to believe he’ll be gone 33 years this October 4th.
I miss him terribly.
Love you, Bobby.