My late husband, Bob Chapman, had a strong sense of community. He was deeply aware that everything he did or did not do affected everyone else’s life, that we all have an effect on one another, all the time, in all we touch and do. He called this his “skin religion,” and he tried to live it to the full.
He cultivated a constant awareness of others, and had a knack for seeing how each might be helped, and then doing it. He noticed people’s needs and contributions every day.
He always encouraged someone he saw working hard, or doing something good. He pitched in an act of kindness everywhere he could.
The sign shaker guy on the corner was cold and needed a hot chocolate. Bob bought one and had me take it out to the man.
A girl at a small town grocery store was putting back all that she had in her basket. Unknown to her, Bob had watched her do this. Following behind, he had put her things in his own basket. As he paid, he had me run outside and ask her to wait a minute. I asked this girl what was wrong. “I was out of money on my food stamp card. I thought I had more.” “What were you getting?” “After school snacks for my kids.” And here comes Bob, handing her a bag of groceries.
A kid in our neighborhood loved basketball, and played often in his driveway. Bob noticed his net was broken one day. He went and got the kid a net, leaving it on his front porch.
I remember a time he fixed the cook’s car in the parking lot at the Vietnamese restaurant we liked. He asked about it every time, too, to make sure it was still running OK.
When he got where he shouldn’t be driving anymore because of the return of his brain tumor, he gave his truck away to someone at work who needed a vehicle.
When Bob mowed our lawn, he always mowed the neighbor’s yard, too. Sometimes he went around the corner to mow an elderly couple’s yard while he was at it, as a matter of course. He considered it to be what he was supposed to do.
When he saw anything broken, he fixed it. He would never have thought of not doing so. It was his gift. So it’s what he did. Bob walked around with a wrench in his back pocket. It made me smile. It was a good symbol of his sense of purpose.
After Bob’s death following a valiant fight with Brain Cancer (April 13, 2012,) to celebrate his birthday, December 13th, we began what we call, “The Bobly Day.” It is a day of random acts of kindness, of noticing the needs around us, of sneaky good deeds, gestures of love and service, wherever we are.
2017 will be our 5TH December to celebrate Bob’s birthday this way. It is mainly a Face Book event. Friends invite their friends, who invite their friends. People who never knew Bob celebrate this day along with those of us who did. On the event page, I ask that people report back to the rest of us what they did. Whoever is comfortable with sharing does so.
The usual number of people officially “signed up” are a bit over 100 people. We have “Bobly friends” in New York City, Chicago, California, South Africa, Scotland,
and of course, here in Texas, going out and looking for good deeds to do and having fun doing them!
Streets have been picked up, (something Bob used to do around the neighborhood,) stranded motorists helped, leaves raked, gifts given, appreciation expressed, hugs offered, needy children cheered, angry words held back, veterans’ needs attended to, rides given, smiles exchanged, tabs paid, and animals helped. Here are some of the examples people have shared the last six years, on face book, or e-mail, or by telling me.
“I helped an old guy in line at the doctor’s office who needed blood pressure medicine but had no money for the required doctor visit. I paid for his visit so he could get his medicine.”
“Was going to go out of town this weekend, but gave my trip money to a Christian rehab center instead!”
“Today at the Texas Aggie women’s basketball game, my husband and I bought teddy bears to donate to their teddy bear drive.”
“I taught a guitar lesson to a girl who couldn’t afford a teacher.”
“While walking through the airport, I spotted an elderly lady resting on a huge recliner. I realized it was a massage chair. I put $5 (the maximum) in the slot and it started humming and moving that dear, little lady. She let out an audible “ooooo” and smiled ever so broadly. She then thanked me and said, “My, but it HAS been a long time”, winked and then smiled some more. I’m not sure which one of us was enjoying her “massage” more. I’m giggling as I type this.”
“The kids made blankets for the hospital, and took them there today. They spent some of their own money to get the materials.”
“I paid it forward at the What- a- Burger drive through!”
“I hugged a homeless guy and took him lunch.”
“I gave up my seat on the subway.”
“I shared about the Bobly Day and his life with someone going through her fifth round of cancer.”
“There was a man on the corner with a sign that said “I have three kids.” I have my three girls in the car and would do anything for them. I handed him a 20 and said Merry Christmas.”
“I made gifts for the people that work at all the fast food places I go to. They were thrilled!”
“Today I’m donating baby things for moms in need.”
Looking for ways to help others is one of the ways Bob Chapman lived, and found meaning in his beautiful life, by practicing his “skin religion.” We can, too.
“I want my job to be just going around and helping people- fixing their car if they need it, mowing their lawn, getting them groceries, whatever they need, and to tell them, ‘God loves you!’ ~ Bob Chapman
*If you would like to join our event (Dec. 13-16 world wide) on Face Book, come on over! https://www.facebook.com/events/413215589122405/?notif_t=plan_user_associated¬if_id=1513098439017694