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This is the most difficult column I’ve ever written. Today I have to tell you that on January 8th I lost the love of my life. Bob passed away peacefully surrounded by family when he left this world. We were with him to the last.

Bob’s melanoma cancer returned December 2018. We thought we would lose him last winter. It was very bad as he gained 50 pounds in a few weeks which made him miserable. To our relief the cancer treatments he received pushed back the tumors that had spread in multiple areas in his body, including his brain.

This past year was a bonus for us as Bob was able to live his life and enjoy our family. For the first time in his life he wasn’t farming. Instead, he had to watch as others drove across our fields, farming vicariously through the view from our kitchen window.

When Bob was house-bound last winter, his biggest worry was that he would never be able to sit on his zero-turn lawnmower and cut grass. Luckily, our son, Russ, took that as a challenge and created a step-up frame that Bob was able to mount.

The lawn was Bob’s again. Of course, I worried about him as he bounced around our buildings, but that work made him happy. Bob loved his machine and was very proud, as he watched Russ assemble it in our shed last spring, offering his two cents with the construction when needed.

Bob popped his buttons whenever he talked about our children. Pride in each one’s accomplishments was evident. He saw their differences and marveled at them.

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My life with Bob wasn’t without its bumps. Bob was a workaholic. For nineteen years, he worked the farm as well as being a full-time mechanic at Seymour Canning Company. During those years I saw him wear himself to a frazzle. Still there was no stopping him.

Bob relaxed some after centering on farming. Even though fieldwork took a lot of his time, Bob found a week to join me for an Alaskan cruise and eventually, a few bus trips out west. With age, he discovered work was not everything.

As readers know, Bob was often a subject of my past columns. He was such a good sport, letting me take photos of being stuck with the field cultivator, or tractor, or lawnmower—Bob was stuck more times than I can count. It was always that one last pass around a field that had the wheels spinning and him looking for help—me, of course.

My husband also loved hearing from readers about experiences similar to his. It seems there are a lot of Bobs out there who are fighting with old machines and who aren’t about to give in to a bit of mud. Your shared stories, letters and cards brought smiles to both of us. Bob always said, “You never know who your stories touch.” And he was right.

Today I just realized I looked over at his recliner, expecting to see him sitting there. I miss him. Good thing our children and grandchildren are close and supportive. Sometimes words don’t come but then we can hug.

Family and friends (that includes column friends) are invited to celebrate Bob’s life on Saturday, January 25th from 1:30 to 4:00 pm at the Cicero Town Hall, N9195 County Road X, Black Creek, WI. Remarks and memories will be at 3.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke,net/blog.

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