Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Stand in Dad

I was 16 and had just started dating this boy named Mark when I met his parents at a Christmas party. 
Shirley and Bob. That was the begining of a relationship that left a print on my life that is still there many years later my relationship with that family...

I dated Mark  for 5 years.  I loved him.  But I REALLY loved his family.
 His Mom,  Shirley would call me out just as quick as she would give me a hug, and she was always buying me little things, a shirt, some perfume, a book.  His sister Debbie showed me how to do my hair in a "Farrah Fawcett" and we would talk for hours about music and movies and boys. 

But his Dad, his Dad Bob was the man. 

He was the stand in Dad.  
He looked like Bob Hope and smelled like soap. 
He used Corn Huskers hand lotion and bag balm  because he was a mailman and his hands would get dry from the mail but his nails always were clean and short, and his fingers  a little callused from working on the car or the boat or the house. 
 He was perpetually tanned and had great legs from all of his walking.
 His eyes would crinkle from laughing and he wore his feelings on his face like a sign. I very rarely recall him being in a bad mood because he considered it his job to make sure everybody had a great time...

 Everytime I saw him he would give me a big hug and say "How you doin kid?" 
The first time I ever came over to their house I sat in this  chair by the door and Shirley yelled "Oh TIGER!"  I felt something move under me and it was this big old fat cat. I jumped up horrified and Bob just laughed and laughed and for a long time when I came over he'd say "Check before you sit down!" and wink at me, he was a big teaser and loved a good joke he'd watch Benny Hill , Saturday Night Live , and Monty Python on TV with all of us kids. He was the reason there were always so many of Marks friends at the house all the time, he had a young spirit.

He taught me to water ski and back a trailer and how to put gas in my car, how to fold a paper air plane, and one time I got something in my eye and it hurt so much he gently looked in my eye with a flashlight til he found it and got it out. He let me raid his closet and "steal" all his shiny disco shirts. He slipped me a beer at family cookouts and always made sure there was Dr. Pepper in the cooler it was my favorite, he would tell us stories and make me laugh til I would be laying in the floor. He would slip me a little cash if I needed it and send me home with groceries when I got my first apartment. When the power went out in my aprtment I loaded up my kitten and my roommate and we came over at three in the morning. He didnt even act surprised to see us, just let us in and got us some blankets.  Always taking care of someone...

Because that was his job. And he was SO good at it.

I always called him Dad and knew he was there for me.

Even after Mark and I broke up I still would go over and see them and Bob would tell me "I sure missed you tell me what you have been doing." And he really really wanted to know about my life. He never acted like it was awkward for me to be there, I was just one of his kids.

The last time I saw him was after his daughters wedding. It was a big party and I went out to the backyard to sit on the picnic bench and Bob came out. We sat on the bench together for a little bit and talked and laughed  and he reached over and took my hand and said "I hope you know you are and will always be my family." I was a little drunk and teared up. We hugged for a long time and then he went back in because it was his job to make sure everyone was happy and having a good time. 

Because that was his job. And he was SO good at it.

I found out today he passed away and I was sad and I know he will be missed so much by his family.  But I also know he lived his life well, squeezed out every drop of laughter, and happiness he could teaching and loving, and laughing.

Because that was his job. And he was SO good at it.


Robert G. Ludwig Beloved Stand in Dad 


  1. What an awesome tribute. Your continued love glimmers...reaching out to the great beyond.

  2. Oh Barb Im so sorry I didnt get to see him again. I truly hope he knew what a big influence he was so many kids passed though his home and he was always so good to all of us. He was a great man.

  3. Suzanne, do you write all this stuff on here? It's soooooo good! I love it! So proud of you amazing, beautiful and talented lady!

  4. Thank you Keri I love to write I'm just happy somebody enjoys reading it! Maybe someday Ill write a book...

  5. They were really good parents for the teenagers that came to their home. They were the kind you don't get to meet much anymore. The world is a smaller place without Bob and his wife Shirley. I have to say Suzanne that you need to write a book about a character based on yourself. No . . I really mean it. You have the talent to do that and have for sometime now. Don't write your first book about someone who is no fun. Write about those childhood times, and carry forward into your own life. You can, for fun, be our next Erma Bombeck and Susan Issac's rolled into one. I have been saying this for years. I love your memories and so will everyone else. Keep blogging. More, More.