I first met Bobba, probably about 30 years ago. I remember a large hairy man – because he was a big build, and covered with facial hair. I was only in my early teens then, probably not even that old. He would fill the space he was in with his cheery smile and his friendly demeanor. He was an amazing person who was so helpful and keen to make sure everyone was alright.
About ten years ago, he proclaimed his love for my Mum, and they married 9 years ago on 6th October. I was bridesmaid for Mum, a special day full of love and laughter. This man, who had been in and out of my life was now my stepdad – although he hated that I called him that. “We might not be blood, but you’re my youngest daughter.” He said told me one day after I’d introduced him as my stepdad. As my son was only little when Mum and Poppa got together, he called him Bobba – and the name kind of stuck.
He was my Bobba, I was his youngest daughter.
For the first time in my life, I had a Dad who actually wanted to know if I was okay. He would ring for advice on what to get Mum for her birthday (not that I knew what to do!) And when I was diagnosed with depression, he started talking to me about his own depression. Because I was so open about it, and John Kirwan just released a book called All Blacks Don’t Cry, he started talking more about his own to my Mum, and eventually his friends. There was no longer the stigma that there was to depression years ago, and it was okay to talk about it. We would often have conversations out in the garden or in the shed about how we were feeling. For Christmas I gave him some book vouchers. He purchased John Kirwans book and wrote “Catherine Mede and Murray’s book” on the inside cover.
He was my biggest supporter and advocate (okay, well after Mum). He would ring me up, or text me, telling me how proud he was of me, or wanting to know if I was okay. When I recently left my ex, he was the first to tell me that I’ve probably done the right thing, and often commented how much happier I looked after I’d left him.
We spent a lot of time together, as a family, Mum, Bobba, my ex, son and I did a trip around the South Island in 2008. We went to Invercargill for the Burt Munro Memorial Weekend. We watched bike races, traveled to far flung places (like Tuatapere), and he rode his motorcycle on some dirt inroad tracks with my ex. They had a ball, although my ex got sick and had to have antibiotics for sinus swelling. I think the majority of photos I have of him are of him on his motorcycle or in his motorcycle gear.
Our plan this summer, was to go for a ride together, as we hadn’t managed to do that yet. But he’d brought a new bike, and was keen to take things quietly, and as I tend to cruise, we would have made good travelling companions.
Unfortunately, about 5 weeks ago, Bobba was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, commonly found in children, but rarely in adults. It was caused by Cobalt radiation treatment he’d had back in the 70s. Only 5% of those who had the treatment get this cancer, and it was tucked inside his pelvis towards his spine. It took two MRI scans to find it. Unfortunately, it was untreatable where it was, and had been growing for about a year. What we got, was the tail end of it.
Bobba died last Sunday 3 July at 9:10am, peacefully. I didn’t want him to go, and he kept telling Mum that they still had so much to do.
I still expect to see him rock up on his motorcycle or ring me, but he won’t. Mum is a little lost without her husband, and Marley, their dog, doesn’t understand where Bobba has gone, but I’m sure that with each other, they will get through.
How my (step) Sisters and (step) brother, not to mention his many family and friends will cope without him, I don’t know. We are each taking a day at a time, because he has left a rather large hole in our hearts – a Bobba shaped hole.