a death at the library / in memoriam: Bob Hudzik with poem 75

A friend who works there sent me a quick email from The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County today. It was a notice to the staff about a retiree who had passed away. She has sent me a few, from time to time, and occasionally I kind of remember the person. This time, I knew.

Robert Hudzik (most of us called him Bob) was the Manager of the Films & Recordings Department for many years. Now that department no longer exists and, frankly, neither does he. Harsh? Not really. While many of us use these euphemisms such as ‘passed away,’ the truth of the matter is:  Bob Hudzik is dead.

I remember, before I retired in 2006, that Bob had been very ill with some sort of cancer, I don’t recall details. But he rallied forth and came back to work. I was glad to read — in the terse quotation of facts and dates that the Library Administration releases at times like these — that he had retired. Doing the quick math, I note that he had 2 1/2 years away from his 33 years of working at the library. I wonder how his last years were? Was he ill or did he get to enjoy the freedom and peace that retirement with a pension brings?

Bob and I didn’t know each other well. Before I got my library degree, I worked as a lowly assistant in an administrative office. I dealt mainly with department managers on behalf of their boss. Bob was always nice to me. When I think of Bob I remember the easy laugh he was quick to share. Bob and I had some things in common:  he was a poet, in fact, was published several places. He coordinated Poetry in the Garden at the library each spring. I believe Bob would be supportive of my ‘poem a day for 108 days’ experience. I remember being informed once that he and his wife had gotten bamboo floors in some rooms of their house. It seemed so chic, so interesting, so, well, Eastern. I felt a kinship with Bob — library, poetry, bamboo. It wasn’t until I read that memorials could be sent to The Animal Welfare League of Cincinnati that I realized we also shared a love of animals. You’ll be missed, Bob.

poem

this one’s for you
you love words, too
Are you writing where you are?

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4 responses to “a death at the library / in memoriam: Bob Hudzik with poem 75

  1. I just heard about Bob’s death and was so shaken by it. We were Department Heads together for the full 18 years I headed Literature. He was so great it is hard to think he died. I am living in Michigan now so I think I will not make it back for any funeral, although Georgeanne says they have nothing planned yet.

    Are you still living in Cinci?

  2. Hi, Donna,

    Of course I remember you. Yes, I’m still in Cincinnati and loving retirement.

    I wrote you a longer reply on your email.

    Phebe (aka Karen)

  3. Brian Hudzik

    I am not quite sure how often anyone checks this, or if you receive notification when someone submits a response, but my Uncle Bob and Cynthia always (cannot emphasize ALWAYS, enough) loved me as if I was there son. While I grew up and resided in the same small town that my Uncle Bob grew up in (Mineral Ridge, OH), the circumstances of our lives placed us in opposite corners of the state of Ohio. Nonetheless, I like to believe that I was blessed with his gift and passion for poetry. I am not aware of any other family member from whom I may have recieved this gift.

    I wrote poetry in high school, attended journalism camps, and was a co-editor and writer for my high school newspaper. I developed a deeper appreciation for poetry upon my arrival to college at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. In my good fortune, I developed friendships with a few peers that shared my passion for poetry. Like me, they were rather reserved in the people they chose to share their poetic talents with, and generally kept that aspect of their young adulthood to themselves. Thinking back, I find it extremely hard for any young person attending Ohio University in Athens, Ohio not to have a poetic response to the beauty of that atmostphere.

    For us, the formation of our own “Dead Poet’s Society” sparked the same sense of anticipation that young children experience as they await the coming of Santa Claus. Four of us would escape to a nearby cave, located a short hike from our dorm on the South Green of campus…meetings were always held after sunset and we read by either candle light or from the glimmer of a fire that we constructed and nurtured within the cave.

    I never shared it with anyone, but I always thought of my Uncle Bob before I read…I always felt like that was OUR own personal, unspoken connection. To this day, more of my poetry remains unheard or miscellaneous to others than heard and acknowledged. On some level, I appreciate that fact, because I feel like that is something that I only share with Uncle Bob! Somehting that even if I shared with others and they liked, only he could understand and appreciate!! To me, that’s kinda cool – really cool, actually!!

    And as I write this (I could not make this up), I am watching a station that I receive in my new apartment that plays concerts and “unplugged” sessions – Van Morrison video is playing right now – another interest that I shared with my Uncle! He certainly had fine musical taste and I am happy to have had that gene passed on to me!!

    Any time I listen to Van Morrison now, I have a profound sense of appreciation run through my body – not just because of the music, but moreso because I was able to share it with my Uncle. More importantly, I was able to share my love and appreciation for HIM, with HIM, before he passed away. That experience will remain a memory in my life that will always bring a tear to my eye and a smile to my heart! For as much as Uncle Bob and I shared an appreciation for, and at least on his end a true gift and realized talent for, the written word…there are just some things that human expression cannot relate. However, I am thankful for the experience I was able to share with him at the Hospice of Cincinnati, because in that time, I felt like we both realized that words can never express the true depths of love and connection that we share with each other. Thankfully, words can be forgotten or misconstrued, but the connections we shared with each other, and the love we share, are vital aspects of our own lives. That truth allows us to push on in our own lives by drawing strength from every shared moment, connection, and feeling of love that we experienced with our “other self”. We never carry on alone, because every experience of those people affecting our lives, we carry on and bring life to in our actions, interactions, and daily lives. We honor the departed by loving them enough to allow them to live on through us – we take the best parts of them and show “them” to everyone we meet – that is immortality.

    I thank you for posting about my Uncle Bob. He meant a great deal to me, and that has not changed. Physicality is merely a technicality. Bob is in my heart and on my mind (and pen) any time I write poetry or a paper/article, just like Aunt Cynthia is in my heart and on my mind whenever I observe and appreciate a piece of art. There is rhyme to this reason…I’m ok with not understanding it, but I’m intelligent enough to appreciate it and be thankful!

    Brian Hudzik

  4. Brian,

    I’m so glad you discovered my blog piece about your uncle. Although I didn’t know him more than superficially, I could tell he was a special person. And, being a poet, I believe we poets have special sensitivities. So I hope you keep writing–maybe one to your uncle? (if you haven’t already)

    Thanks for sharing about Bob! Take care of yourself.
    Phebe

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