Thank Your Champions

Bob and me.

Bob and me.

In August, after my dad’s 80th birthday party had wound down, as he slowly bent his aging achy body into his car, Bob Carl said, “I suspect this will be the last time you ever see me.” I told him to stop being silly but as it turns out, he was right. Bob died last night. Although the news was not totally unexpected it nevertheless stopped me in my tracks.

During my years of becoming I had three champions. They stood up for me, showed up for me, slapped me into focus, and encouraged me when I needed the support of an elder. They protected me when I felt unsafe in the world. They pushed me off the edge when I needed a shove to get moving. They were Tom McKenzie, my aunt Kathy Metcalf, and Bob Carl. In the past nine months all three left this earth.

Bob’s passing has, of course, made me reflective. I remember how much I feared him when I first met him. I was a boy and he was a retired military man, a former Drill Sergeant. He did not suffer fools and the force of his nature intimidated the boy version of me. He helped me find my force. He gave me lessons in fire.

His second career was as the mechanic of a research airplane that flew into storms. He spent his retirement flying into hurricanes. I love the metaphor. It is, in fact, what he taught me to do: fly into the storm; find the calm center. A storm always has a calm center.

As luck would have it, I had a call with Alan this afternoon after I heard the news of Bob’s passing. We talked about the uncanny alignment of these three deaths and what it means to me. As Quinn might say, a man without champions must be his own champion and that is pretty much what Alan reflected to me.

One of my stalking stories is Parcival (it is central to my book and continues to unfold for me). From the story, I’ve learned that a man becomes his own champion when he strips off his armor, relinquishes his quest (stops seeking), and gives his life over to the present moment. He chops wood. He carries water. As Bill shared with me, “After illumination, there is laundry.” In the present moment we have everything we need: no separation. It is in the present moment, unprotected (without armor) that the Grail Castle always reappears. Parcival (we) returns to the place where he initially got lost (didn’t speak his truth) and without the armor of social expectation, speaks without filter or editor. He is no longer invested in how he appears to others or what they might think of him – and so finds himself (the Grail).

As for speaking my unfiltered truth, I could not have had a better mentor than Bob. What scared the boy version of me – a man who spoke his truth without filter and with great force – has become in his passing, among his greatest gifts of guidance to me.

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2 Responses

  1. Having gone through a similar time in my life (loss of my best friend, grandfather and father in 9 months) I have often thought about the meaning of these kinds of life events. Perhaps it is a reflection of our being pushed out of the nest and taking flight. It certainly was in my case and seems so in yours, given your last year’s life experiences. We have to be pushed out of the nest because it’s likely we wouldn’t choose to take flight on our own without the push. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of Bob but it seems he, Tom and Aunt Kathy don’t need to be in your life in the same form – they have served their purpose in your life in this physical form and now they will continue to be with you and help you learn and grow in their soul spirit. What they have to offer you in their soul spirit they couldn’t in their physical form.

    Much love,


    You are looking very thin in this picture from last August. Have you gained some weight? Do I need to come to Kenosha and get you out for a decadent red meat dinner?

    • Thank you for this. I’ve been meditating on this in the context of the past year (and all the changes that have come with my move). I was thin. I have definitely returned to a heavier body (Kerri and I tease each other about our new relationship weight;-) That should not stop you from a Kenosha visit. We’ll feed you and welcome all the decadence that you might bring!

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