I’ve decided to rework a bit of this post and then republish it, to honor one of the finest men I have ever known. This was originally posted in October of 2009, following my visit to see him and a few days yucking it up.
Word recently reached me that my good friend Bobby passed away. This is a hurtful loss for me. Bobby Miller embodied all that is good and all that is fallible in life as a human being. He was handsome, playful, energetic and as loyal as the day is long. He never spent any time being dishonest nor did he ever design to hurt another human who did not deserve a Karmic Reward.
Like me, Bobby never really grew up inside. His nature was pure, in so many ways, it is why losing this gem of a person hurts. He was fresh air at any time.
Bobby’s humility was his greatest accomplishment. He was exceptionally hard-working and took nothing easy. He inspired me – and I wager many others – with a wisdom beyond his years when he gazed deeply into your eyes with his normal perceptiveness. He would go far, far out of his way NOT to upset someone, no matter how appropriate it may have been. His compassion was tremendous – just a stunning asset which ought to teach us all the more about life. Like the Tibetan antiquities he sported on his walls, Bobby was the real deal in this.
He would respond thoughtfully to every single thing you ever said – well, unless we were having hella fun anyway. Then he was the guy you most wanted to be with because he never called a halt to fun, either. He had an uproarious laugh which was another gift he gave. His laughter was somehow always intelligent – maybe at goofy stuff – but, still………. 😉 He loved irony like few others ever will. Those were always the best laughs.
Bobby Miller, man. I’m sure gonna miss you. I love you madly.
(left click all images to enlarge…..sometimes twice)
I can’t help but call him Bobby, since that’s who he was when I met him, way back in high school. The truth is, I met his sister Regina first, but that’s another story. She was drop dead gorgeous and a real hoot to be with. But so was her brother, I found out to my distinct pleasure. Bobby and I had some serious adventures and there never has been a more honestly curious person than this exceedingly honest and modest man. Right now, Bobby’s battling some serious illness – with a hopeful treatment he’s going for in Nashville – so we keep our fingers crossed. I recently spent a couple days and a night with him and we reminisced about old times as well as questioning our place in Life and for the future. I really don’t believe I spent a bad day with this guy – ever. No. I KNOW I never did.
The log cabin he is posing in front of up there he built himself. It is one of those divine Thoreau-esque sorts of places that fits so well in its environment, it nearly appears to have grown there. What is most remarkable about his spread is that it is built on reclaimed strip mined property. Well, actually “reclaimed” is wrong – because it was abandoned back when strip mines would simply get mined out, very much ‘un-reclaimed’, leaving humongous trenches behind as if some Mighty God had scratched his fingers in dirt leaving parallel lines of destruction behind. But the forest and Nature herself reclaimed what we see here, and it is actually quite something. Here’s a shot off Bobby’s porch:
Here’s the man himself, tinkering with some gadget while I take bad pictures. But it also gives a glimpse into the interior of this – perhaps the single most livable, most comfortable home I ever walked into:
The wood stove to the right in the above picture is the heating unit for the place. Owing to the thickness of the logs constituting the house walls and their tight milling, the insulation properties are off the charts good. He burned one log while I was there – a 24 hour heating job. There is plenty of the “raw” look which authenticates the “do-it-yourself” aspect of the construction but it is decidedly not an amateur job – not by any stretch.
The massive stonework fireplace was a chore and a half, according to Bob, and was done by a friend while Bobby lugged in a few tons worth of rock. This picture is a little dark, but the scale shows here, I think:
Warm and inviting, Bobby crafted himself a pure luxurious and homey hideaway. His nearest neighbor is a mile away or so and he is surrounded by everything a Kentucky forest offers. That means moles, ticks, fleas and a bazillion nuisances, lol. He has some great tales of critters and dealing with their intrusiveness. He is constantly afflicted by stray cats who glom onto his place and create kittens. He has liked some of them immensely but soon realized the local hawk and owl population liked them more.
A lot more. Bons bons for the wilderness!
Bob has the greatest porch I ever saw:
He landscapes his place marvelously, using tasteful groupings and stressing his lawn which adds so much domestication to this wild joint of his. Like many American men, Bobby is sort of fanatical about his grass. I always get a kick out of that, myself, having installed so dang many of them personally. To me owning a lawn is like acquiring a pet – way too much trouble! But these guys love them and, I admit, I can see why. Besides, it’s Kentucky, not Reno, Nevada and it is the very home of Bluegrass.
Here are some looks from the road that leads to his place, featuring views of these old strip mines whose lakes now contain fish – no matter how difficult it is to actually get to the water from some slope of about 70 impossible-to-climb degrees:
It’s now just a little bit of Paradise for a very deserving person and one whom I plan on seeing a lot more of. I like this great sweatshirt he’s wearing, sporting the cool look of my favorite town:
My personal feeling is that if I deserve a friend like Bobby Miller, I am a very blessed man. A little dumb, come to think of it, but then – that’s not a crime yet. Hell, look at our politicians!
Very, very cool place. I’ll miss you, Bobby Miller.
Beautiful place! I hope Bobby likes Israelis.
I hope the outcome of Bobby’s treatment is more than hoped for and the side effects are minimal. He’s fortunate to have a friend who cares enough to tell us.
It sure looks like Paradise to me — all the best to your friend.
LOL, Bobby likes Israeli’s just fine. And he knows your intentions, Annette! He has plenty of room for your whole family – in fact, the kids can scream til their heart’s content! No one will hear.
Thank you, too, Nell Jean. I also hope for the best. He’s a strong guy with a good support system – as you have seen. His view is interesting – he talks wryly about going to see what the “next poison they want to give me” will do.
Hi Nancy – and yes, it as close to Paradise as you can get.
Wow, this is amazing… I would love to live in a place like that, so comforting and close to nature!!
thanks for the article!
I’d almost hate to call the place a cabin–It’s definitely built better than most of our city housing! Love the location, too. I hope the nature all around helps with what he’ll have to be dealing with. It all looks like it’d be a big comfort.
James, I’m due to hear about things today or tomorrow. That place is indeed soothing and soulful for him. Needless to say, he has loved it from the get go. He built it 20 years ago or so. We had some fun talking about the “critter” population – wow – he gets amazing traffic out there, lol.
This is a wonderful post, so upbeat despite Bobby’s trials with health problems. He’s lucky to have your special, friendship. But then, it seems obvious that you deserve each other. Guess that’s what true… long-term friendship is all about, and it’s a rare and wonderful thing.
Thanks, Alice. You’ll have to ask him if it’s worth it, I guess. All I know is, he has provided me with laughs together that made my stomach hurt. That’s what I find religious, lol.
This is a beautiful blog and tribute to Bobby. I met and spent time with he and his daughter only a handful of times but certainly appreciated his kind and playful spirit.
May he be at peace now and soar with the angels watching over all of us. Blessings.
Thanks so much, Ansley. He was all you said and more.
I only heard about Bobby yesterday, from my sister Marilyn, and I’m stunned by the news. The last time I saw him was in 2007 at our high school reunion. We spent quite a long time then, catching up, and though I haven’t seen that much of him over the years (I’ve been in Wisconsin 20 yrs. and 12 yrs. before that in Minnesota), I always remember our close friendship in high school. Though I only knew him a few years back then, he became one of my best friends. In fact, I was just thinking about him a few days ago, wondering how he’s doing, having heard nothing about his illness.
He was every bit the great guy you describe, one of the best dudes I’ve ever known. The shots of his cabin just blow me away. On an acre of the land I “own” up here in Wisconsin, a friend recently reconstructed a cabin taken from the north shore of Lake Superior, and it’s a nice little cabin but it compares quite infavorably with Bobby’s little gem of a place.
I really appreciate your tribute to him. You may not quite remember me, we didn’t hang out a lot back in the day, but I remember you. It’s good to know we had a mutual friend who was such a fine human being. I’ll miss him too.
Van, I remember you well, and your brother Harrell, who I knew a little better. And, for sure, Bobby made an impressive and quiet splash among all of us who knew him well. Good. I hope he’s reading.
Sorry for your loss! My prayers are with you and Bobby’s family. Friends like that are few and hard to find.
Steve, it was very good to meeting you and I finally got to read this after all of the people have been telling me I should! It is as terrific as they said. A fine and worthy tribute that Bobby would love. I hope you will come back to the cabin some day. Keep in touch.
Kim, strictly personally speaking, it was so marvelous reuniting with so many wonderful friends from our mutual past. I always thought of Bobby, even at times when we were separated by thousands of miles. I thought that was a terrific informal wake for him and I have to believe he was smiling, watching us.
Thank you so much, Brandy – what a nice sentiment and all too true. Go hug a friend for me! 😉