The MAN – Reflections on a Life with the World’s Greatest Dad

dad7

What can a son say about the passing of his father, especially when they happened to be best of friends?  He was there when I took my first breath in this world, and I was holding his hand when he took his last.  How can you possibly encapsulate a lifetime of love, respect and joy into a blog or Facebook post?  I’m sure you really can’t, but nonetheless, here are a few reflections…

My dad was one of the wisest and coolest people I have ever known.  And I say this, not just in the reflective aftermath of his passing, but rather, as a reoccurring thought I’ve had throughout my life.  I know I hit the lotto having Jerry Brock as my father.

dad1Me with the old man (he was only 23 here!)
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I learned a lot of stuff from my dad through the years, most of it from observing how he actually was in the world.  One of his most compelling attributes was how he personified non-judgment toward others in every facet of his life.  My dad did not care about someone’s religious beliefs, political leanings, ethnicity, personal lifestyle choices, physical appearance, sordid history, or anything else.  He was truly “colorblind” in both social and business situations.

As such, he was never one to gossip, indulge in water cooler chatter, or carry on about someone behind their back, even among those closest to him.  He respected everyone equally, and people clearly picked up on this, which was one reason why he was such a beloved character to friends, family and co-workers.  In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that my dad lived his entire life without enemies.

And on occasions when he did have to deal with difficult folks, he had a special way about him… a “spiritual diplomacy,” you might say.  This enabled him to effectively manage diverse groups of people in a work environment, but also make everyone feel comfortable in a social setting.

To that end, he was extremely easy to be around.  He smiled and joked a lot, and kept things light and joyful.  And at any moment, he might break out into his little jig… that signature dance of his.  To see him do this and NOT smile would be impossible. At the same time, he was the greatest listener.  Very present.  You knew he was soaking in every word.  This was likely why everyone wanted to bend the poor guy’s ear all the time.

Ultimately, though, he was a quiet and reflective man at his core, especially around immediate family, out of the glare of social graces.  He gravitated toward simple, low-key situations. Sure, he loved people and enjoyed larger gatherings to a point.  But I think he always preferred the quiet simplicity of being home with mom, family and laptop.

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My childhood memories with dad are a delightful blur of summer vacations to Panama City Beach; dozens of ball games at the Houston Astrodome, and many more hundreds of sporting events on TV; sit-down family dinners most every night and regular backyard barbeques; camping at the lake, baseball catches, football passes, and lots of other fun stuff with the family.  Fishing trips (way back in our pre-vegan days) were also a special bonding time for me and the old man.

On that note, my dad was quite the outdoorsman, which I know he picked up from his father.  We used to quietly stroll through the woods, and I would watch him listen out for various animals or try to identify paw prints in the dirt.  His “respect for others” credo certainly translated to the sanctuary of the forest, but my dad revered nature in all of its exquisite forms.

dad10

I’m not saying that my father or even my childhood were perfect.  But in fairness, any kind of “dysfunction” that went down was really on me.  I went through an unbearably rebellious phase as a kid where I know I put my folks though all kinds of hell.  And, let me be clear; my dad was no pushover.  In fact, he was a classic “hickory switch” type of disciplinarian.

Even so, I’m sure there was a lot about my “social presentation” back then that was difficult for him to deal with. When I went to a drug rehab program at a really young age, it was suggested by my counselors that he and mom make a few concessions as I adjusted to sober living.  This involved allowing me to smoke cigarettes openly and let my hair grow out.  Likewise, I understood these were privileges I could enjoy so long as I kept my nose clean. Deferring to their expertise – and wanting desperately for his son to stop indulging – my dad agreed to more of these terms than he otherwise would’ve.  But, as it turned out, I never had a drop of alcohol or drugs of any kind since, and it’s been well over three decades now.

Still, it must’ve been tough for my dad to be seen with my sorry ass in public back then.  You have to remember: this was Texas in the 70’s, where the rednecks roamed free in the pre-Urban Cowboy days, and the word “hippy” was still part of common vernacular.  Even at 15, my hair wasn’t just long… it was extra wide!  Add to this the tattoo, earring, smoking and ever-present Black Sabbath t-shirt, and, well… people just stared.  Constantly.  But, my dad always accepted my choices and never imposed any fashion advice on me.  Even when I got my tattoo – which I know really bothered him – he never, ever said a word about it.

dad4Seriously?
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As a teen, we had quite a motley assortment of kids coming in and out of our house, mostly from the rehab program I remained active in throughout high school.  Since I was fortunate enough to have the “cool parents,” we would often wind up back at my house, all hours of the night.  Many of these kids came from rough family lives and didn’t have much of a reference for “normalcy.” Again, my dad always treated my friends warmly and welcomed everyone into our home, just like mom did.  In fact, since his passing, I’ve received a number of heartfelt messages from old friends, reminding me of his impact on their lives.

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My dad was unconditionally supportive of whatever I wanted to pursue.  And when drumming took center stage at 10 years old, his old Ludwig drum kit was pulled down from the attic for me.  [He was a drumming hobbyist for a short time.]

On that front, he had a lot of patience.  Being the drummer, rehearsal was usually at my house.  Mom and dad let me “soundproof” a bedroom with grey egg cartons and, somehow, he tolerated all that racket several evenings per week with the band.  The rest of the time, it was drumming, drumming, and more drumming.  He must’ve gotten sick of hearing all that practice and, of course, he was not bashful about letting me know when 10:00 PM (cut-off time) rolled around.  But when it wasn’t about the full-on audio assault of the drum set, he endured the constant machine-gun pitter-patter of my practice pad, which often took place within earshot while he tried to watch TV or read the paper.

Still, he was always supportive.  He and mom made sure I could study with the best drum teachers around.  And when I decided I wanted to go to the Berklee College of Music in Boston six weeks before the fall semester started, dad wrangled the funds from the ethers to make it happen for me.

He also caught most of my local performances through the years: talent shows, various club dates, chainsaw guitars at Vinnie Vincent concerts, the shrieking young-girl shrill of a couple Nelson shows, many a drum clinic and solo band performance… even Slaughter with Whitesnake, where he and mom pulled their motorhome right up next to the line of tour buses in the back of the amphitheater.

dad16 On the Iron Maiden tour with Vinnie Vincent Invasion, playing the hometown arena
in Houston on mom’s birthday: 1-30-87
(sis and ex-bro-in-law pictured with dad)
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And backstage after every show – every time – whenever I made eye contact with my dad amidst the crowded room, he would shoot me a single wink.  That was it.  No gushing about how great I played, no high-fives or back-slaps, no overt bragging to anyone about his son’s performance that night.  Just the wink.  That’s all it took to fully convey to me the depths of how he felt.  And I got it, loud and clear.

***************

My dad was never big on doling out unsolicited advice, and even when I would seek his counsel on something, his response was always concise, reflective, and poignant, like a southern sage.  And he always made time to take my call or sit down for a chat, even when I knew he was really busy.

Of course, if my dad ever saw me heading toward the edge of a cliff, he would step in and say something.  But he would only say it once, and he would say it in a way that was very clear and unambiguous… minus any nagging, rehashing, or “I told you so’s,” had I not heeded his advice and things had gone south.

As for those epic father-son talks, there were more than a few through the years.  Man, I can still remember the exact time and place of many of them and, needless to say, the content of  these talks has stayed with me to this day.

***************

My dad was an old school rock-solid citizen of the earth.  He handled his business honorably and impeccably.  Always paid his bills on time and was relentlessly punctual with his work obligations.  His employers – and there were just a few in his lifetime – loved him.

He was also very social conscious. He was active with the Masons for a time, served on the board at Unity church in Houston for years, and donated a lot of money to various charities in his lifetime.

And… he seldom swore.  In fact, he never did get used to his son’s “ugly language,” as he usually shot me a sour face when I would drop an f-bomb around him.  I found this old-fashioned sensibility endearing.  “C’mon, Holmes!” I would say.  “This isn’t the Lawrence Welk era anymore.”  But he would just smile and shake his head.

***************

My dad was a big computer guy, jumping on the home PC wave back in the early 80s.  He loved his laptop and was always working on stuff like genealogy, his high school class website, and an onslaught of various programs and HTML coding projects.  He enjoyed connecting with friends and family online, generally through Facebook and email.

dadcompThe early days of home computing: floppy disks only – no hard drives yet!
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He also loved playing golf, and watching old westerns, action films, John Wayne flicks, and all kinds of sports.   Plus, he was a huge fan of straight-ahead jazz like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and all the greats.  This was a passion we both shared, and whenever we drove anywhere together, the radio dial was always set on some old jazz station.

My dad was an accountant by trade for most of his life; a numbers man, through and through.  Then he and mom retired to full-time RV living in 2000, where they cruised around the continent for a few years. Eventually, he would become general manager of the Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort, one of the country’s top-rated motorhome destinations.  And this is where he worked for over eight years… until his stroke.

My dad adored his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.   (Thank God for my sister’s prolific output!)  But most of all, he adored my mom.  They were happily married for over 54 years and very rarely ever spent a night apart. He married his soulmate at 19 and never looked back.  And in his final days – even after we all told him it was okay to move on and that mom would be taken care of – he seemed to resist his transition: not because he was worried about mom… but because HE didn’t want to leave HER.  Very sweet.

dad5

My dad enjoyed excellent health his entire life, seldom missing a day of work. This is why we were all stunned when, out of nowhere, he suffered a severe stroke two years ago.  He was on zero meds, in perfect health, and working full-time. Then, boom – everything changed. He was suddenly paralyzed on his right side and had lost the ability to speak. But he was always lucid, always “there.” He still had all of the same mannerisms, looks, even sense of humor.  And although his speech was the kind of nonsensical mishmash of syllables common of those with language center-based brain injury, we could often tell what he was trying to say by the way he was saying it!

Through it all, his outlook and demeanor remained unshakably positive. Even towards the end, when he was completely bedridden for those last few months, he always had a smile for anyone who visited him.  And he was a big hit to the various medical and hospice workers who came by to help in his care.  Dad was consistently pleasant, respectful and compliant with each of them.  I found this remarkable.  He was often very uncomfortable, and I know he despised having to be so dependent on others, especially my mom, who was his primary 24/7 caretaker.  But still; the grace.  The patience.  The acceptance.  For those of us closest to him, it was both a brutal and beautiful thing to watch.

me&dad

And it was yet another lesson that he showed, not told. He wasn’t able to tell me about accepting what you’re dealt and not taking it out on others. Instead, he lived it.

His moment of transition occurred on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday observed, with seven of the closest people to him at his bedside, including me, mom and my sister.  It was an unspeakably excruciating, yet profound, experience to witness that I won’t even attempt to describe here.

That said, I believe 100% in the survival of the spirit beyond the demise of the body.  My dad has shed his physical body and is now free from the numerous constraints he had to deal with these past two years.  Meanwhile… his spirit remains what it always was:

Enormous beyond words.

I’ll miss him terribly in these years ahead, but will look forward to reconnecting with him on the other side.

dad01

Dad, we love you.  You are respected and admired by so many and have touched our lives more than you will ever know…

* * * * *

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Here are a few more pics of dad through the years:

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dad15Mom and Dad about to hit the road in the big rig, circa 2000…

* * * * *

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dad13Dad at 18, goofing off with a pair of bongos. Dig that TV!

* * * * *

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dad3Proud papa, for sure… but mainly in shock that his son actually graduated!

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dad11Dad jamming with friends, circa 1960.  I STILL have this bass drum!

* * * * *

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dad18Dad on the far right, with some of his golf buddies…

* * * * *

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dad12Day one in the Berklee dorm, circa 1981. Just getting settled in…

* * * * *

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dad14My folks; married at 19!

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dadplaqueA beautiful dedication to dad from our great friends at Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort.

 
* * * * *
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dad19Kickin’ it with the old man someplace cold!

* * * * *

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RIP, JB
11-27-39 – 1-20-14

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About Bobby Rock

Bobby Rock is a world renown drummer, the author of seven books, and a recognized health and fitness specialist with certifications in exercise, nutrition and meditation. He has recorded and toured with a variety of artists, released three CDs as a solo performer and is recognized as a top drumming educator. (He is currently touring with rock icon, Lita Ford.) Through speaking, writing and activism, Bobby remains committed to a number of animal and environmental causes. Bobby lives in Los Angeles.
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34 Responses to The MAN – Reflections on a Life with the World’s Greatest Dad

  1. sister says:

    ahhh, what love, memories. i was waiting on the stop smoking for the new kit story. ya, i was one of those broken home kids and the couch was always open to me. sorry i wrapped the yard so many times, but he just never seemed to mind. what a blessing to humanity. thank god mr. brock carries on through his friends and family. rest jerry, lorrie and family.

  2. Trevor says:

    My thoughts to you Bobby.

    One very sad but very cool post.

  3. Laurie says:

    Beautiful tribute Bobby….

  4. Sulynne says:

    Beautifully written Bobby. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  5. Heather Piazza Wall says:

    Wow how beautiful and true. I may have only had a few short years and moments with your family but they were wonderful and filled with love and laughter every time we gathered. He holds a dear place in my heart and he will be missed!

  6. lisa king says:

    This is beautiful Bob! I remember him. God bless you and I am sure he is watching you from a heavenly place. You are in my prayers!

  7. Kipp Steven Angel says:

    Very Beautifully written my Dear friend well said ,Kipp

  8. Lynn Kelly says:

    Well Bobby (yes you are still Bobby to me) you have hit the nail on the head. You have captured your Dad so beautifully that I had a good cry as the memories of those moments flooded over me. There is nothing more I could add except…..that I’m thankful for your words to remind me of the grace your Dad’s life was for all of us. And of course of what an eternal connection he had with your Mom.

  9. Alan Buividas says:

    Bob I am sorry about the loss of your father. It’s wonderful that you were able to maintain a close connection with him throughout your life. Thanks for sharing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. God bless you. Your friend, Al Buividas

  10. bevskid1 says:

    Bob,
    How lucky could one guy get? I’m moved to tears by your tribute to your Dad. When we were at school, I always wondered where you got your jazz influence. Now I know.

    Enjoy life among the stars, Mr. B.

  11. ty sides & family says:

    Wow bobby that was beautiful I know it’s not metal to cry but I don’t care much love and prayers all the way from Houston Texas we love you brother. Be. safe. Ty. Sides. And. Family

  12. Mary Jo says:

    Bobby,
    I enjoyed this glimpse into your Dads life. I am so sorry for your loss. MJ

  13. Matsumoto Fumiko says:

    I see your Father passed on his sweetness and gentleness to you.. He’ll continue to live in You. Love you. P

  14. cubman says:

    His wink was it Holmes! calm in the storm & precious plus very kind man “MISYA” HUGS Girls

  15. Tammy says:

    This touched me to my core, thank you so much for sharing this with us. Love you!

  16. Lisa Mauro says:

    Beautiful!!

  17. Pam Leazer ( North Carolina) says:

    very beautiful words, sorry for your loss of your father, thank you for sharing the pictures( still trying to get over your hair). and yes i know about them hickory stick..:ake care and God Bless.

  18. Scott says:

    Great family Bobby. Wonderful tribute to your dad. Hang in there Bro

  19. Dear Bobby…

    What a beautifully written, heartfelt dedication to honor your father. I am moved to face drenching tears and sobbing. It is truly a beautiful thing to read words so true and pure and real that bring the deepest emotion into the moment. I deeply feel that great love and respect that you had toward each other and toward your mom for the great heart gifts that they shared with you throughout your life without limit.

    I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see a glimpse within your soul and the wonderful influence that your father had on your life to become the wonderful man you truly are.

    Although I didn’t have the blessings from true family support as you have been gifted with, I feel encouraged knowing through your testimony that men still walk the face of the earth that have dignity, integrity, a true knowing of wisdom and a genuine love for their children, their wives and their family and the beauty of all creation.

    I will strive to be more graceful through my trials and to be more like your father. Sometimes life has a way of taking these precious traits away from you and you don’t even realize it is happening because the weight of the burden is more than you can humanly and even spiritually bear.

    It has been an honor to continue to know you and to follow your career throughout the years.
    I will keep you and your family in prayer during your time of loss…

    With much resepct & love, your friend, Sheri

  20. Charlene Bartkowiak Jones says:

    What beautiful reflections on a lifelong relationship with your father. I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t think I ever met your father, but from your words here, I gather he was one very special man, certainly to be missed.

    I lost my father 15 years ago to cancer, and many of your words hit so close to home. You might remember that I grew up with an avid drummer in the house, my brother, Robert; and now my son, Bobby (named after his father, Bob), is a musician/audio engineer (drumming a big part of that). In MANY ways, I could relate to your story.

    I admire your commitment to your core values; sobriety, music, healthful living, and obviously, family. Your strength and willingness to stay true to yourself are an inspiration to many.

    Take care, Bobby.

    Charlene

  21. Doug Tyler says:

    In addition to being one of your dad’s friends we had a connection through Masonery. Jerry was the Master of the Oak Forest Lodge and when I entered Masonery, Jerry taught me all of my work. Jerry was special in all ways.

  22. Carole Alm-Pascoe says:

    Bob, you have, with eloquence and deep sensitivity described exactly who your dad was. He was a very fine man and was a blessing to everyone who knew him. I am honored to have been his friend. Yes, and he is very much with you always! Thank you for writing this.

    Peace,
    Carole Alm-Pascoe

  23. Lita Ford says:

    Bobby, pictures speak a thousand words. I can see the love in your family and definitely in your Father. You are left with so many happy memories !

    Your Father is watching over you now , your Mother and the Brock family too ….
    Jerry is gone, but is still in your heart, spirit and memories .
    I’m SO sorry for the loss of your precious Father .

    Much love my friend ,
    Always ,

    Lita xoxoxoxo

  24. Christine says:

    Bobby, I am truly sorry for your loss. Your words resound an exceptional connection with your father.
    To me your words say that your father made a choice to be the upstanding man that he was each and every day regardless of the situation. That takes strength, discipline, understanding and love.
    A credence for us all to live by.

    May he rest in peace.

    -Christine

  25. bobby, barry and i are sorry to hear about your father ! your father sounds like a wonderfull man!i have never seen such a beautiful memorial in my life ! your father is free looking down on you from heaven above ! take care we will be thinking of you and your family!god bless! barry and bonnie miller in michigan!

  26. Traci Wilson McGaha says:

    Beautifully written, Bobby! I loved your dad and some of the pictures of him remind me of my dad. I know they are together now watching over us!

  27. lyle Hartka says:

    Bobby, wonderful post about your dad! He is indeed a very advanced soul.

  28. Rich Johnson says:

    Bobby,

    That was a beautiful tribute to your father. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Your fan since Metalmorphosis and a brother in percussion…

    Rich Johnson

  29. Aussie Ang says:

    I am profoundly saddened to hear of your father‘s illness and passing, Bobby. Hugs to you and your family. If I may so, your parents have raised a damn fine boy with his head screwed on right & your dad will continue being proud of you from the other side, with that inimitable wink at just the right moment ;-> You, like your dad, are an inspiration in many ways. Thank you for your blog; it has inspired me to resume vegetarianism (& who knows, perhaps veganism in the near future too); taught me much about drumming technique in an easy to understand way; fitness, great vegan nutrition and many other things.
    Peace & Love, Angela.

  30. Mletalien l says:

    What a touching and heartfelt story, Bobby. He was obviously a great man, and I am sorry for your loss.

  31. Michelle Nugent says:

    Really Beautiful man…….a story EVERY Father dreams of his Son telling the world……Hope my Son digs his Mom that much man……I laughed……I cried……and I SMILED a lot……Makes it easy to understand why you were ALWAYS the polite gentleman of the CRAZY Rock scene in the 80’s man (and I’m sure you still are now).
    Positive everything to you Bobby…….Straight Ahead…….Peace~

  32. Belinda says:

    Sorry for you and your family on the loss of your father, didn’t know him at all, but by reading what you said about him what a blessing to have him as a father , I see where you got your kindness from. Thank you for sharing. God Bless you and your family.

  33. Daniel Ahern says:

    Hi Bobby, that was a great tribute to your Father. You obviously loved him very much as I do my Father. I believe family is the most important thing in the world and it is actually what “The meaning of life” is in my opinion. God bless you and your family and my your Father rest in piece,

  34. Jerry says:

    Wow, amazing story…. I’ve followed you Bobby since your start in VV. Then Nitro, Nelson and so on through the years. Thanks so much for sharing this story. It really makes us feel like we know you and your family even more.

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