Tony and I were so very sorry to hear , late yesterday, that Bob, a friend of ours for so many years, had passed away in his sleep at home……though my first thought was how happy his soul would be, to be reunited with his precious wife Val, who took her angel wings 6 months ago….As for Val, I suspect she’d have rallied the angels around to prepare for Bob arriving and told them to , ”get the chair and the newspaper ready and he’ll be happy, letting us get on with our heavenly duties while he is content catching up on the day – and don’t let him know where the spirit horses race coz he’ll have  a lot to say about how we’ve been running this and what they are doing!”

I cannot help but smile thinking of Bob: he was one of the ”real, proper” Northern men, whose wife and family were everything. Achieving great granddad status would have meant the world to him: it was all about those he loved – with a little R & R in the Club thrown in!

We met Bob and Val around 30 years ago, in Cyprus where we were all holidaying and where we now live and they continued to visit. They each play such a starring role in our love for this island: special people who crossed our lives in a special place and who continued to weave their worlds with ours, despite so many differences – not least age!

Bob was an honest, straightforward person. No nonsense and ”how it was” but full of mischief , which showed itself in the twinkle in his eye – most obvious when he was winding Val up. One favourite memory of ours was, around 25 years ago when we were all on a minibus from Pissouri going back to the hotel and Bob, who was sitting at the front of the bus, decided to serenade Val who was sitting at the back – and the song started off with,, “I  love my wife”……(ah we all thought), then continued with “she’s got big…….”” – at which point Val rushed to the front of the bus and boxed Bobs ears! He just couldn’t stop laughing!

Another was when he came here to our home in Peyia a couple of years ago and told a friend of mine, “I met Lynn when she was young and thin, not like she is now!”……Again, his ears were well and truly boxed by Val!

Sadly in todays world, where much seems disposal or changeable – and a persons perspective of what they aim for, is often skewed towards possessions,  men like Bob are rare. He is the father everyone wished they’d had: constant, hardworking, devoted and loving – always quietly sat in the background, keeping a watchful eye on things . Happy to be in the presence of his own and content with his world, A real man who lived a proper, often tough but always loving life .

So proud of his life achievements: the love and patience of Val, one of a kind – and the family who grew, moved forward, learned much but stayed close to this special man.

Probably the most fitting thing for Bob was, though he’ll have been very sad to go, he began his heavenly journey at the end of day filled with his ”special possessions”: his family, who he’d have listened to as they chatted in the kitchen of his home then enjoyed some time with great friends in the Club – then he came home , got into bed and I’d like to think made a pact with Val to begin his travels home to her in the heavens, safe in the knowledge that the gifts he’s given the whole of the  Coates family, are the understanding of what is real and what is not; what matters and what doesn’t and how to LIVE , valuing the right things and holding each other close.

Though Tracey, his daughter, imagines her Mum  Val would have told him to hang around here a little longer so she could enjoy a little more peace, we all know she’d be so very happy to welcome him home so they can both ”hold witness” over their wonderful family and guide them through the tough days ahead.

Our hearts break for the loss Bob’s family will be feeling but are also warmed by the fact we were two of the lucky people who got to share a little of this earthly journey with this lovely, friendly and precious man. God Willing, we’ll keep close to his family as the years unfold so we can share many more happy stories about Bob.

Sleep tight old friend x