Force of Nature

People wouldn’t exactly put Robert and force of nature in the same sentence. But here we are, and I do.

My brother Robert died suddenly of a massive heart attack last week.

It is the weirdest feeling being the only one left in your family. It also seems odd to balance this unimaginable grief when my dream is coming true of having my book published. It is also strange to have all my family members sitting up on a cloud, happy and WHOLE and healthy and I am left here dragging around this old bargain basement body. Talk about FOMO. AND having an enviable “change of address.”

Death attacked Robert’s heart, but it also attacked my brain and my heart. And apparently my voice.


If you knew Sarge you knew that she was a force of nature. In his own quiet humble way, Robert was too.

He had an idealistic childhood. He rode bikes, played football, baseball, and he was a pretty good golfer. He got into boyish mischief with his buddies and cohorts Sandy, Craig, Trae, Jimmy, Lew and Clair. He loved motorcycles and rock music. To hear Robert tell it, there was no decent music after the 1970s were over!!

We loved spending weekends with our grandparents Bama and Pop (We called her Bama because Roll Tide was too hard to say). The biggest treat of the weekend was eating Oscar Meyer hot dogs because mama always served generic brands. We always questioned whether we were eating real food or not!

The only thing that distinguished his childhood from other boys was he spent many a summer sitting in a New Orleans hospital room keeping his sister company. Me. How many rambunctious boys do you know who would actively choose to sit in a hospital and be quiet rather than stay home riding bikes and playing with friends?? Robert, that’s who. He was a force of nature in his understated brand of compassion that made me feel like it was going to be OK as long as we were together.

Even with all of this, his life really didn’t begin until he met the love of his life, Allison. I have never seen such a devoted husband. He was a force of nature in his love for her. Then, along came two sons. He absolutely doted on Hutch and Hudson and he didn’t mind being called “Mr. Mom.” He was a force of nature in telling me about their accomplishments and in his pride for them.

He also adored his in-laws. I recently ask him why he still called them Mr. and Mrs. McClendon. His answer was quick and sure. “It is because I respect them too much to ever call them by their first names, Les.”

Anyone who knew Robert well, would know not to question his loyalty to Auburn. His love of Auburn football was not to be toyed with. Those who got in the middle of Robert and a football game would encounter his force of nature which was neither quiet or subtle!

So maybe the real juxtaposition here is to see my mother’s full throttle force of nature versus my brothers quiet contemplative force.

I needed both forms in my life. I will miss them both.

7 thoughts on “Force of Nature

  1. Leslie, I am so heartbroken for you as I have felt that loss of one of my siblings would be catastrophic for me (I will share one with you). I recognized your blessings in your amazing friends who joined you. I will be there cheering for you with your book launch.

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  2. Leslie life throws us punches- we don’t expect, some we can change and get through other changes are forever in our lives. Robert will definitely be missed by many and his unfaltering ways of his quite but strong personality will be always remembered. So glad I knew him through you and through my brother. I can’t imagine doing life without him but thank goodness for those sweet boys that are very much your family. Love always Venessa

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  3. What beautifully written sentiments about Robert. He was such a kind man and so many people loved him for being a gentleman and a loving father. I love you, Les! You will always be family to me.

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  4. Such a lovely tribute to Robert. I know you miss him and your mom so much, and it can be hard to think of the long road ahead without them. It is comforting to believe that they are still watching, supporting, and celebrating with you. Soon there will be much rejoicing—in heaven and on earth—when your book is released!

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  5. You were lucky to call Lib and Robert family. Two unique individuals that were way too briefly in my life. 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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  6. Leslie, I am so very sorry to read about your brother’s passing. Please know you are surrounded by love as you grieve his sudden loss.

    Take good care of you, and know you are on my heart at this difficult time.

    Love, Brenda

    >

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