Within the Casa Chiri community, no one remembered him as “Bob Wright” he was simply “Grandpa Bob.”
“He was everyone’s Grandpa!” was a common expression I heard when asking the Casa Chirilagua community for thoughts and reflections on his life.
In spring of 2010, Bob and Gail Wright began volunteering at Casa Chirilgua’s after school program, Kids Club. Gail would often utilize her teaching skills, drawing the students in for a particular lesson, while Bob would sit back, smile at the children and observe. Then in the fall of that year, Bob and Gail began volunteering on a weekly basis providing reading and tutoring support for individual students. Those were the early days of Casa Chirilagua, when resources and volunteer support were particularly scarce. Abuelito Bob and Abuelita Noni’s weekly presence helped “save the day” on multiple Wednesday afternoons when they were the only volunteers able to make it.
Grandpa Bob was a popular volunteer, frequently requested by the 4th or 5th grade boys. They melted when they worked with Grandpa Bob, loving every minute of the attention he offered. He was so patient and gentle. He would listen to their stories, smiling, laughing and delighting in their presence.
One student recalled, “I remember when I went to his house to have dinner and the time he told me his stories about Pearl Harbor. He was really calm. He didn’t push too much and would let you take your time to get your work done. He wouldn’t get mad at you if you didn’t finish your work. It was the time together that mattered.”
At first, I personally thought all of the boys wanted to work with Grandpa Bob because he was a push-over. However, over time, I began to realize they loved Grandpa Bob because he loved them. He was the grandpa who many of them needed as a regular presence in their life. He delighted in them regardless of their performance and they were well aware.
In his old age, we all know that Grandpa Bob’s skin became a little flappy, particularly the skin between his neck and his chin. One of our favorite volunteer stories and one of Grandpa Bob’s as well was the time we looked over and noticed a child distracted from his work because he was visually examining Grandpa Bob’s flappy skin. Then, without a word, the student reached up to poke the flappy skin to see what it would do. In true form, the skin wobbled back and forth and in true form, Grandpa Bob responded with nothing more than a chuckle as he continued to permit the students’ violation of his personal space.
Being the servant that He was, Grandpa Bob was always looking for ways to help, even when he had no business contributing in the area of physical labor. We would constantly have to stop him in his tracks as he would be grabbing chairs and large folding tables and carrying them by himself. Then there was the time he helped us move the Kids Club program to a new location. We asked him to bring his truck and told him his sole job was to drive the vehicle. We were still stripping his hands constantly of whatever needed to be moved.
Grandpa Bob was a man of few words; however, his presence spoke volumes marked with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and love. As Grandpa Bob shared his presence with us, he also shared the presence of the Holy Spirit marked by the fruit of his life.
The Casa Chiri community honors the memory of Grandpa Bob, mourns the loss of a faithful volunteer, mentor, tutor, and friend, commemorates his life well lived, and celebrates his full restoration beyond the comprehension of this world.