New Stand - A matter of time

by Nick Wognum

I was sitting in an antique jeep in Zumbrota, MN when I received the phone call I was dreading. <BR><BR>“Bob passed away a little while ago,” was the message. I don’t remember what else was said by either party. My mind just went blank.<BR><BR>I knew this was going to happen, but of course it’s still a surprise when it does. We were heading toward the downtown area for the city’s Covered Bridge Music and Arts Festival.<BR><BR>This was a big event because it is Zumbrota’s sesquicentennial and the town had turned out in full force for the parade.<BR><BR>I was visiting the Groteboers who are very involved in the Rochester Shrine Cycle Patrol. Steve, as captain, would be leading the motorcycles through the parade route, zooming up and down Zumbrota’s main drag. <BR><BR>But my mind was a million miles away. It took a walk and some time alone to collect my thoughts before I could make some phone calls and clear my mind. <BR><BR>I sat amid hundreds of strangers, all gathered with their lawn chairs and bottled water, just waiting for the parade to start. I thought about Bob Cary waiting for his number to be called. <BR><BR>The parade in Zumbrota started like any of the thousands of parades that will take place across the country on Tuesday, including in Ely. <BR><BR>The local squad car, all polished up, led the way, followed by a line of veterans, carrying the American flag and several others. Every single person stood as the vets walked by, hats in hand, with a loud applause as they marched by. I thought about Bob and his generation who marched through Europe and the South Pacific. A dying generation shrinking every day. <BR><BR>Steve and the Shriners followed shortly thereafter, each of the 14 riders dressed to the nines, riding shiny Honda Rebel motorcycles. <BR><BR>They came through and circled, heading back and forth in an array of formations, including one with Steve standing up with one hand behind his back. The crowd loved it. I thought of Bob steering a Lund between the islands that separate Moose Lake from Newfound. <BR><BR>When the parade was over I hopped in the jeep to ride back to our starting point where the bikes were loaded back on trailers, the coolers were opened and beverages were shared. I thought of Bob and his request to speak at his funeral, with a limit of 10 minutes. <BR><BR>So I passed on the dinner at the Covered Bridge Restaurant, caught a ride with Kelsey back to Rochester and worked on what I had started in my mind several weeks ago. <BR><BR>The eulogy I wrote is reprinted in this week’s paper, although I was hesitant to do so even after numerous requests. I didn’t want to slight anybody else’s family who have asked me to give a eulogy, but I hope they’ll understand. <BR><BR>The day after Bob’s funeral I was in the Twin Cities with my family for a nephew’s baptism. What a difference a day had made. From celebrating the end of a life to celebrating the beginning of one. With all of the time that goes toward work and the commitments we make, this was a good example of remembering to enjoy the time in-between. I think I got the message.