During the Church's required Baptism class for parents of children receiving the Sacrament, the facilitators talk to you about the different symbols used throughout the ceremony: the water, light, fragrant chrism oil, and white garments that your baby is bound to burp or in our case poop all over. They teach you about your role and those of the Godparents. They lay out the order of events, prep you for the terse responses to the Priest's questions, and reinforce how important the ritual is. What they don't mention though is how many times they will say your child's name throughout the service; and just how important that name is. Bobby's full name must have been called a dozen times throughout his Baptism on Sunday, and at each mention I think I beamed with a little more pride.
Bobby was named after his four great grandfathers; four men who helped make the Greatest Generation even greater. A baker, a bricklayer, a banker, and a builder - each man never solely defined by a profession, but by all the electric elements of their well lived lives.
He was baptized with the name Bob for short. With a thick head of wavy black hair tucked under his Navy cap. With a room on the Pacific to receive and report radio signals, carrying news from every corner of the War. With an old time Domer, cheering for the Irish in their hey day. With a train ride to Union Station where he met his super soul mate. With a special table for two in a favorite Paris bistro. With an invitation to join us on the Shirley B, docked at Slip Number Six in Burnham Harbor. With Chevys, Cadillacs and cars that were OK! With wheat, corn and soy trades, options, burgers, and safe deposit boxes. With a serial entrepreneur, dressed in blue, always looking for his next venture. With a man who marched to the beat of his own drum, encouraging each of his children and grandchildren to do the same.
He was baptized with the name Barry. With bright red hair and freckled Irish skin. With steel and iron and Pittsburgh pride. With a ruptured ear drum, that kept him on U.S. soil and out of a tank destroyer unit that mostly perished during the War. With a blessing in disguise that brought eight children and their offspring into the world. With rich earth and the potatoes, asparagus and tomatoes that sprout from it. With the skill to jitterbug with his beloved Croatian bride. With a hearty laugh that would shake a belly filled with the Chef's beef birds and baked goods. With a voice that was never on key, but confident enough to belt out any melody. With Easter eggs, apple cider, and burgers. With mason jars ready for their pickled fillings, a shot of Jameson, and a closet full of intermediates. With a stubborn streak, a will to survive and an emotional side reserved only for the people closest to him.
And he was baptized with the name Schultz. With a war hero who built the bridges over the Rhine, leading the Allied Troops to victory. With a handsome GI who marched through the Arc de Triomphe to find his bride and bring her home. With a humble engineer whose mind could tackle anything from the most complex compounds to the most delicate dollhouses. With potato pancakes and brats for dinner, and kaffe and kuchen for dessert. With the faith that the Cubs would someday be #1. With over engineered doors for the cats to go out and see the brilliant blue skies of Colorado. With cement, Warsteiner, hammers and nails. With the will to fix anything, no matter how broken.
A toast to the ever inspiring Greats. We will continue to do our best to fill your legendary shoes.