Sunday, May 30, 2010
Bobby Rollason -About Bonds & Friendship
At a remote hunting camp near Windsor, NC, where Bobby Rollason loved to hunt with his friends, a crowd gathered around a small tent, situated beneath a deer stand.
Three young Ft. Bragg soldiers flanked a table that held pictures, a wide screen TV, flowers, and the ashes of a fallen brother--Bobby Rollason.
Sherry Rollason, his wife opened the celebration--and that is what this was, a celebration of life. A formal funeral had been held in February when Bobby left us. This time, the focus was on giving Bobby a proper send off in a place he loved and spent much of his time.
About those bonds. I am not using the term in a strictly gender-based form. It transcends friendship and extends the bonds that link us so deeply that a kinship is felt even among people who have never met. And so it came that these three young U.S. Army soldiers made the drive from Ft. Bragg to Windsor, on a national holiday weekend--fittingly Memorial Day--to pay respects to a man who had served his county before they were born. They performed the ceremony with obvious pride, incredible care and dignity and true sincerity. An amazing bond that transcended a generation to bring these men together--the living and the fallen.
And then there was the hunting camp "brotherhood". Men from all walks of life, their wives and children. Some of those bonds that help start the camp began as localized friendships here and in other places. But as other men joined the camp the bond transcended mere friendship and became something else--a bond based on love of nature, a common interest in an ancient and honorable sport, and just plain fun--getting out into the woods, telling lies and stories, breaking bread together and having a good old time.
At the ceremony, an older couple unveiled a beautiful paining by the wife depicting a part of the camp with wild turkey in the field. It was hung from a tree and can be seen in the background of this photo. Sherry Rollason read poetry and passages of prose in an emotionally charged tribute to her husband. My friend, Jay Hart...every inch a "man's man" turned on a laptop and a widescreen TV powered from his vehicle. Here was this tough guy, stringing together two very tender and fitting country music songs and setting them to a string of photographs celebrating Bobby's life. From this unexpected source came a choreography so skillful that if the word "smile" was in the lyrics a picture of a smiling Bobby Rollason appeared at the self-same second. Who knew? An effort like that could only come from the heart--and the sense of brotherhood that tied these two men together. Grown men, well into their retirement years were crying. Men who had seen Vietnam and everything life throws at you over the decades.
Another bond came from the Masonic fraternity. In fact, because of the respect these young hunt club members had for Bobby, many desired to follow him into the Masonic family. Over the last two years of Bobby's life a half-dozen new men joined our lodge, most all of them coached by Rollason through the oral catechisms still required for advancement. Indeed, during my time here on the Outer Banks, I had worked more closely with Sherry--an appraiser who has always been on my top three list. But Bobby, desiring to bring his hunting brothers into a different brotherhood began to cross my path more often as he introduced more men into our lodge and made frequent appearances at our meetings.
From all of these, and other aspects of Bobby's life, the composition of the celebrants grew into an extended family. Wives and children of hunt club members. People from Windsor. Currituck. The Outer Banks.
I didn't know Bobby nearly as well as most of those gathered on this beautiful Saturday. But the presence of so many from three differing paths--the U.S. Army, an informal hunt club, and the Masonic fraternity--added to the normal friendships we make during life--says much about the person whose life we were celebrating. I wish I had been able to know him better during his time here.
After the ceremony we shared BBQ, fried chicken and all the accouterments of the simple Southern fare we all love. And there, in the form of a humble meal comes yet another bond--one tied to geography and the unique regional characteristics of northeastern North Carolina. The ring closes on itself and is indeed, eternal.