“Hope” is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops ... at all - Emily Dickenson

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Robert Parker Muschler

I attended a funeral today for my friend and neighbor, Bob Muschler. I think Bob had a full and fulfilling life. He was a Social Worker by trade, but his passion was art and theater. He spend his life creating. He was a sculptor, a painter and was deeply involved in local theater. The music was provided by friends. Jack Hockenberry, of the Yellow Dog Jazz Band, played slow New Orleans jazz trombone before the service, as we milled about talking with old friends and sharing Bob stories. Michelle Barber, who at one time hosted a Minneapolis version of Austin City Limits, sang the most heart rending blues version of "His Eye is On The Sparrow" ever sung. Sweet Jesus, she can sing.

Bob built two additions to his home. A northern lit art studio and the "Lake Room", which was built with lumber, windows and stone salvaged from an old barn, and the Danish Lutheran Church of Alden. Each of their five children contributed by hauling six wheelbarrows of dirt out of the foundation hole every day. Total cost of the project, a truly beautiful room, $22. Nails? His family said he was "cheap". It is the wrong choice of words. Bob was not "cheap", he was generous, he just got joy out of re-using, re-creating and saving beautiful things.

When Robert proposed to Joan, she declined, as she was going to become a nun. After she dropped out of the order after 6 months, Bob proposed again. As she now had a frame of reference, she told him she couldn't give him an answer for 6 months. Eventually she said yes and they were married for over 50 years. Joanie is so sweet. At the funeral, she was a beautiful, stylish widow, but when I hugged her there was nothing to her. She's like a tiny and frail bird. I know life without her Robert will be hard.

Robert had a terrible memory and sense of time. He said if he ever got Alzhiemers no one would even notice. He had a wonderful sense of humor. Even at the end, when it became apparent that his life had nearly run it's course, Bob declined chemo because "it causes hair loss"...although I never knew him with hair. He would tell stories that arrived at a point that begged a question. When I asked my innocent question, he would quietly drop the punch line, but subtle enough that it would take a couple of beats before I realized it was even funny... really funny! I'll miss that.

Bob retired from his his job because, as he said, it was taking too much time from his hobby, racing homing pigeons. His birds won many long distance races. As a member of the "Finest Generation", Bob could have had a 21 gun salute. He declined and opted instead for the release of a large flock of homing pigeons. They gathered, turned and wheeled over the lake, getting their bearings, before rocketing toward their loft to the west. It was the most uplifting funeral I've ever attended.

You spend your life
Trying to get mature
And when you reach 80
You realize that you're
Only halfway there
And running out of time
You're not going to make it
You're already past you prime
I'm as good as I can get
And really no great prize
And I ain't going to to make it
Before my demise!
-Bob Muschler
I think he made it.

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