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bob whitley, provence, dad smiling, ustoa

My dad, the original fun Bobby

Life is good. In addition to being a lifestyle apparel company, it was also one of my father’s favorite sayings. Whether he was traveling the world for his job, weeding in his beloved backyard, giving tours of his 1890 Victorian or hovering over a putt on the golf course, he couldn’t keep himself from smiling and exclaiming, “Life is good!”

If I had to sum up my father’s personality in one word, it would have to be “happy.” He was the original “fun Bobby” (for those fans of Friends). Always ready with a witty anecdote, a challenging piece of travel trivia or a cheer for his Yankees, it seemed a smile was never far from his lips.

I didn’t realize how incredibly fortunate his family was to have such a happy-go-lucky man in our lives until it seemed our luck had run out. Dad lost his joy the minute he woke up from emergency abdominal surgery and found out he would be in the hospital for likely a week. That week turned into two, then three, then almost four when he died after 26 days. 26 days of already missing my father and the happy man he used to be.

To pass the many hours sitting by his hospital bed, one day we watched a movie on my laptop. The choices were pretty thin: National Treasure, Dirty Dancing or The Hangover. Not surprisingly he chose The Hangover, but not just because it was the lesser of three evils; he had gotten hysterical over it in the movie theater. But when we watched it together that quiet afternoon in the hospital, I kept looking at him after every gross punchline checking for the telltale Dad smile but I didn’t see it once. In retrospect, that’s when I knew things were serious and might never be the same again.

Boy I miss that smile and his laugh, but all I have to do is whiz through my iPhoto album for hundreds of pictures where he’s smiling and laughing like the Dad I knew. Life was very, very good for him and his joy radiated to all around him. Enjoying life and family was his legacy, and I will strive to honor that for the rest of my life.

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