By the first of April 1996, Robb’s family realized he could go at any time. His brother John flew in for a final visit. I went to Robb’s house one afternoon when John and Rich were there telling war stories of their childhood, each of them trying to deal with the knowledge that the end was near.
I took John and Rich to the backyard to do interviews about their feelings at this moment. They opened up in ways that would be educational to viewers in 1996, when anti-gay sentiments were high and the fear of AIDS was still strong.
Robb had been experiencing “strange feelings.” It was clear that his body was shutting down. By the time I interviewed him for this story, a couple of days later, his voice was growing weak. You can hear it in his comments near the end of the story.
Robb’s story changed a lot of hearts in the Quad Cities. During this year, people occasionally stopped him when they recognized him in public. One man, who he ran into at the grocery store, stuck his hand out to shake Robb’s hand. Robb was moved by the kindness.
It is so easy someone you don’t know. By putting his life on television, Robb helped people understand that those with AIDS and those who are gay are just as good, just as funny, just as brave as anyone.
The comments Robb makes in this story are from the last interview I did with him. He had a little more than two weeks to live, and I would not see him again when he was awake.
You can donate to the DeLaCerda House and help support homeless people who have HIV and AIDS. It was Robb’s favorite charity during the final months of his life. If you can donate, please go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click on the “Donate” button at the top of the page.