Life Like a Country Song: Remembering Robert Dean Shaw

Bob shaw

Bob Shaw loved music, more specifically country music, more specifically pre-1960 country music, and more specifically, pre-1960 country music that you could dance to, or at least tap your toe to. The kind of songs that were earthy, rural, set in a small town or in a farming community. Songs stirring patriotism and championing hard work. Songs speaking about lasting love and songs speaking about love lost and heart break. Songs speaking about rural life: the land, raising children and bird dogs, hunting and catfishing. Songs of sacrifice and worrying about the kids and the dogs.

Bob loved another Bob with the last name of Wills, known as the King of Texas Swing.

Bob had such a love for Texas Swing that he taught himself to play the guitar, and steered his daughter Ronda away from the flute, an instrument that may never have been played in the Texas Playboy band. Bob even took some guitar lessons in his late in his forties.

I don’t believe Bob’s love for country music should not surprise anyone who reads reads his obituary, as his epitaph reads like lyrics to a country song, you might say, some good ol’ Texas Swing.

Born in Lacey, Oklahoma, a small rural farming community, Bob attended Mound Ridge, a one room school house.

Bob Wills once sang of the rural, slow paced, southern way of life that Bob Shaw was born into:

Yes, this is Southland, where everything’s fine

It’s where they really live and give you a feeling

That you’re welcome any time

You’ll find our men are stronger, women sweeter

And you’ll live much longer, no rush every day.

Bob graduated from high school and was drafted into the United States Army, serving from 1953 to 1955 during the Korean Conflict. He was stationed in what he called “cold and dark Greenland,” building a runway to defend the North Atlantic from a possible Russian advance. Those years of service were difficult for Bob. He lost a dear friend and comrade in an explosion, and Bob himself was injured in an accident with a Jeep. This service and sacrifice, this love for country led him to later become the Commander and District Commander of the American Legion. Bob’s love for country is perhaps what attracted him the patriotic music of Bob Wills’. One song goes:

When the Yanks raised

The Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima Isle

Ev’ry heart could sing once again

And the sight of Old Glory over Iwo Jima Isle

Swelled the hearts of our fighting men

After serving his country, Bob moved to Kingfisher where he worked for Cimarron Electric, and later he would move to Enid to work with OG&E where he continued to sacrifice for others. Working with electricity is a dangerous venture, but being a lineman, is another kind of danger.

One day, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, Bob was on the ground while a fellow lineman was high in a bucket truck working on an electric line. Not knowing that the line was live, his co-worker grabbed the line. The electricity immediately grabbed and held on to him, until Bob says he could see smoke appear to come from the top of his head. Without hesitation, and putting himself at risk, Bob climbed the pole and pulled his co-worker off of the line, saving the man’s life.

Bob would find love, have two sons, but then, like a country song, lose love, as his first marriage would not last.

Bob Wills sings of the heartbreak of love lost:

No more to be sweetheart, no more to be friend

My yesterdays haunt me, my weary heart cries

I just can’t go on, dear, with tears in my eyes.

However, Bob Wills also sings of the hope of finding new love:

I’ll have somebody else as soon as you are gone

You’ll never break my heart no more

I used to weep and sigh each time we said goodbye

You broke my heart so often, there’s no more tears to cry.

And in 1969, Bob married Linda Kisling.

Celebrating the joy of lasting love Wills sings:

Stay all night, stay a little longer

Dance all night, dance a little longer

Pull off your coat throw it in the corner

Don’t see why you don’t stay a little longer.

And that is just what Linda did, standing faithfully by his side for 47 years. The two of them had one child together, his only daughter, Ronda.

Bob enjoyed hunting quail on the farm. He and his bird dogs also hunted ducks, turkeys and pheasants. He also enjoyed fishing, especially catfishing. Bob liked to get a way, and enjoy the outdoors. Bob believed in working hard, but he also believed in taking it easy.

Bob Wills sings:

I might have gone fishing. I got to thinking it over.

And the road to the river is a mighty long way,

Now it could be the season, no rhyme or no reason,

Justa taking it easy, it’s my lazy day

Bob Shaw’s obituary closes: Bob is survived by his wife, Linda, a daughter ,Ronda and her husband Terry, two sons, Jerry Walker, Larry Walker and his wife, Candy, three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one sister, June Lindsey. He was preceded in death by a brother.

When I asked Bob’s family how Bob expressed his love and devotion to them, they all agreed: “He worried about us.” Ronda said that he especially worried about her driving, arriving at her destination safely, wherever that may have been. Bob would probably agree that worry is the price that parents pay for the gift of children.

Again, Bob Wills sings:

Woe is me, so is you

What a price to pay

Tell me what I’m gonna do

I can’t go on this way

Every night I walk the floor

Worried over you

All I do is watch the door

Hopin’ you’ll come through

Pacin’ up, pacin’ down

‘Til the break of day

I’m the saddest soul in town

I can’t go on this way

Where are you at tonight?

Now, I do not believe that Bob Shaw’s worry meant that he lacked faith in God. For after his heart surgery, Bob made a grateful promise to God that he’d be more faithful in his church attendance. Keeping his promise, Bob and Linda would arrive around 9 am for the 10:15 service almost every Sunday! They sat together on the same bench for over an hour in the gathering area waiting for the service to begin. It was kind of their spot.

Thus, I don’t believe that Bob’s worry meant his faith was weak. I believe it only meant that he loved you so. Worry was simply the price that he paid for love.

I believe it is good to be reminded that, like worry, grief is also the price we pay for love. Grieving only means that we have loved have loved another the way our creator has intended for us to love another.

Garth Brooks, a post-1960 country music star that Bob probably never listened to, sings a song entitled, “The Dance.”

One line of that song goes: “I could have missed the pain, but I’d a’had to miss the dance.”

The only way to miss pain in life is to miss love in life. But to never love someone the way you loved your husband, your father, your brother, your grandfather and great grandfather is to never really live. As the country song goes, the only way to miss the pain of loss is to miss the whole dance of life.

You loved Bob, and now you are paying the price for that love. Grief is the consequence of love. But you know something? Everyone of us here this day, is going to go on courageously loving one another because the ones we love are worth that price. You have loved.  And now you grieve.

So I say to you this afternoon, grieve. Grieve long and deeply. Do not dare run away from it. Do not treat it as if were a stranger you could send away, or deny that grief, because who does not know any better thinks it means your faith is weak. Grieve what is lost. Grieve honestly, lovingly and patiently. Grieve until your cup is emptied. For this is the only way back to wholeness.

Grieve and even thank God or your grief. Because like Bob’s worry, your grief only means you loved. However, also remember the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians that those of us who call ourselves Christians should not grieve as others do who have no hope.  As Christians, our grief is different, because as Christians we possess hope.  We have the hope that as God raised up Jesus from the dead, God has raised Bob.

Perhaps today, Bob Shaw has found another Bob, and maybe even the rest of the Texas Playboy band, and they, even now, are playing the guitar and singing together:

Will you miss me when I’m gone?

Will you ever think of me?

Will the past be just today…

If you cry yourself to sleep

As I did for you for so long

Then perhaps you’ll dream of me

Will you miss me when I’m gone…

…I love you just the same

More than you will ever know

When your hair has turned to white

And you feel so all alone

Maybe then you’ll think of me

Will you miss me when I’m gone?

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