Here it is, the celebration of your life, your love and your hope, and I’m not able to be there. Though it is painful, we will do the best with what we have – you taught me that quite well. I hope that these words may give some sense of our presence with everyone at this challenging time – we are certainly here in spirit and prayer right now.
I suppose you would understand – you always did – with the kind of understanding that makes you feel like a whole person, and someone who could do what they’re made to do in the world with the right kind of friends.
You, Bob, were the right kind of friend. I remember many things about our friendship, and would like to recount just a few.
I remember us talking many times about change, Bob – and how often we would like to make a change. You wanted to change your job, your time, your resources. I simply wanted to change the world. Well, here we are, having made a massive change, and indeed we were right – change is not all it’s cracked up to be, especially for those near us who have to deal with its implications.
I remember the day you told me that you committed to yourself that you would spend at least one hour an evening playing with your son, even when your work life was hard. I took that to heart, and to this day, I remember it – and apply it – as often as I can. I’ve told that story around the world – hoping other Dads would listen. I think many of them have – thousands of hours invested by thousands of fathers with thousands of children – just another legacy Bob Horvath probably left in this world.
I remember the day we went sailing, you and Sylvia and Anita, myself and the kids. We all jumped in, fortunately with life jackets, on a blustery day in the middle of Lake Ontario. Anita, Abbi and Ben grabbed onto the rope in the water. Anna and I did not. The wind came up strong, and you and my family rapidly drifted away from us – far, far away from us. Anna was terrified, and I was, too. You see, I’ve almost drowned 3 times, and my swimming skills are poor. Together, Anna and I floated, me deceptively reassuring her that all would be well as the windswept waves rose all around us – when I was none too sure. Then, I watched you rapidly working the rigging on the sailboat in the distance. Confidence welled up within me, and I spoke peace into my daughter. Then, flying across the lake, you came right to where we were – and all was well.
I remember the day I proposed that we do another recording to the church elders. Everyone agreed. That is, except you. We looked each other in the eye, and I refused to move forward without unanimity. You weren’t backing down. Neither was I. Well, maybe I was. We waited, and a few months later you came to me and said, “Now, Dan. Now is the right time.” In short, we were all glad that we waited. I remember being very thankful for your strong will and spiritual instinct.
I remember the day at your home in Waterdown, when we sat in the sun room and talked about the deep sense of spiritual dryness you felt. We talked for hours. We walked. We prayed together. In the following weeks, you went through a wonderful personal renewal. My heart was full for you. I loved you so very much, and felt like I was able to give just a bit back for all you had sown into my life.
I remember the night you and Sylvia sat in our living room in Cambridge, giving us the straight goods on what you perceived about our marriage. I was fine until you started to address my issues – I was quite sure they all rested in my beautiful wife! With gentle care, you both artfully teased apart the complexities of our relationship, and gave us tools for growth. We took them, and we did them, and we found each other in a new way.
I remember the racquetball game I was sure I would whoop you in. That was a rough day. A man far grayer than I cleaned the court with my shorts. Let’s not linger on that one.
I remember many moments, Bob. And today, as we all gather in heart and presence of one form or another, I lift a glass of fine wine in memory of the days, nights and years we’ve shared. It is not often a man finds an older brother, a father in many ways, who is willing to receive as well as give in friendship. If I had it to do all over again, I would have learned to play golf just so I could see you smile at my attempt. Maybe one day, on greener fields, we’ll find time to play.
Your beautiful wife remains an icon of goodness and hope in this world – an inspiration to all of us who know you and have been shaped by your luminous marriage. Your beautiful son and his family remind us that the investment of a father, and grandfather, outlive his frame by many generations.
Your friendship toward me, and toward the many who sit in this room, will outlive the years we shared. This is what is meant by a legacy, Bob, and you, my friend, have left one deposited uniquely in each one of our hearts. God has found in you a great friend, and we are all privileged for having walked beside you these many years.
So, cheers to you, dear B0b. One day we will see one another again. In that moment, when the stars are not so distant and all grief has passed away, please… don’t mention the word “racquetball.”
Sylvia, you are a beautiful woman and a beautiful soul, whose home became a haven of peace for us many times, as for the many who passed through its doors. Take comfort from these family and friends – they are God’s gift to you, as you have been to them. While we are not there, we are here, for you. God’s eye is on you, and He will care for you today, and in the weeks, months and years ahead. The love of your life has gone before us – we will pray for you as you bear the burden of waiting the most, to see Bob again.
It is not ours to hold a man, to keep him from his home. Bob, into the care of God we commend your Spirit, and from the care of God we receive the grace that we need to keep moving forward without your safe, strong presence.
Today, friends, celebrate the life of a man whose secrets were far more holy, far more beautiful, far more inspiring, than anything we saw publicly. We raise our glass with you in a toast to a man whose legacy lives vibrantly in all of us. Our love, and prayers, are with you.
Dan and Anita Wilt