On June 9th, my uncle Bobby Walls, passed away suddenly. He had been suffering from cardiomyopathy for several years and left us too young at the age of 56.
I probably hadn’t seen Bobby since the last funeral I attended in Ratoath. The line about Irish families only meeting at baptisms, weddings and funerals is so true. However, as with all my uncles and aunts, I was incredibly fond of him, having spent many summers in my Granny’s house as a kid.
Bobby led a simple life. He loved his family, horses, having his few pints, local sport, Man United and laughing. For many years he worked in Woodpark Stud. I remember my mum telling me that he worked in an office until my Grandad died because Grandad wanted him to have more opportunities than he had. But horses and the outdoors were his love and the draw was obviously too strong.
Bobby lived in the house at the junction of Glascairn lane and Fairyhouse Road with his two brothers Frank and Martin. Since my Granny died, he ran the house and made sure that my uncle Martin, who has been crippled by mental illness for many years, was ok.
He died just as he was about to head off and watch one of the syndicate horses run in Roscommon. As the priest put it, in a line Bobby would have loved, “I believe it is still running”.
The funeral for this man who never married, never had kids and lived in the same house most of his life was packed. So many people wanted to carry his coffin, we had to do it in relays down to the graveyard. The overwhelming upset of my younger cousins reminded me of how much Bobby was loved.
I’ve been meaning to write about him since the day he passed. What finally got me to do it was the death of Randy Pausch the other day. For those of you unfamiliar with Randy, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer last year and given 6 months to live. He gave a “final lecture” to his students at CMU which has become famous and resulted in a great book too. If you or your family is dealing with mortality, this life-affirming talk may prove to be great comfort to you. Randy’s talk is about living not dying.
I cannot think of two less similar people than Bobby and Randy but so much of what Randy said applied to my uncle. Most importantly of all:
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand”.
Anthony “Bobby” Walls, RIP.