After seasons of declining health, a friend recently passed his final days in a cocoon of compassion among family and friends at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home.
Instead of sharing his pain and suffering with others, Bob Verdinek mirrored their compassion. He knew it was difficult for his friends to see him in this condition. “I’m just terrific,” he told visitors almost until the end.
Several years ago, an illness took parts of Bob’s fingers and also made it necessary for him to have both legs amputated below the knees.
But, his spirit was indomitable. He taught himself to be a master furniture maker, and he thrived on the challenges it presented.
My wife once gave him the design for a massive maple armoire, 7’x4’2’. Even with his strength, the size was formidable. However, it didn’t stop him. He designed the armoire in two sections that he could handle more easily and which could be joined into a single piece when it was put in place.
Bob also accepted our challenges to make a king-sized trundle bed, a 5’x7’ maple headboard for another bedroom, and a number of additional smaller, unique pieces.
His home is filled with his creations, many of them made of walnut, a favorite of Mame, his wife of 61 years. You also will find his work in the homes of his family members.
Bob was unable to finish a small table for a grandson before he moved into hospice care, but his friend and fellow wood worker, John Webber, volunteered to complete the table for him.
On each of the pieces that Bob made for us he carved his initials in an inconspicuous place. Maybe he did the same for others fortunate enough to be recipients of his talent.
Although Bob can no longer accept our challenges, he will always be present with us. He has left his signature on maple, red oak, walnut and most of all on our hearts.
Justice is compassion raised to an institutional level.