Robb’s Life Chapter 31 – A Special Delivery for Christmas

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“This (photo) is what I’m sending for Christmas presents,” Robb jokes.

Just in time for Christmas in 1995, a major item was checked off Robb’s To-Do-List. The headstone that he and his parents designed was delivered by Moline Monument to St. Mary’s Cemetery in East Moline.

You may remember that in May, Robb and his parents — Lorney and Hattie — chose their grave site during a tour of the cemetery. Now, the project was complete!

It isn’t easy for three people to decide on the design of a headstone, which will identify them for perhaps hundreds of years, or until the stone is worn down by time. This story shows the final steps in the design process, then Robb, Lorney and Hattie are at the cemetery as the headstone is delivered and installed.

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Robb, Lorney, and Hattie watch as the headstone is installed.

None of us knew, of course, that Robb only had four months to live. He may have suspected this would be his last Christmas, but he had suspected it the previous year, too. And he had recently signed up for a new drug trial, so anything could happen.

I think back to this time, and I┬ádon’t believe I gave him a Christmas gift that year. Perhaps I was still trying to keep a bit of professional distance, being a reporter, but I regret it now. If I could do it again, I would have made a big deal of it. Once someone is gone, however, there are no do-overs. Insert deep sigh here.

For 20 years, I have cracked up over Robb’s joke at the end of this story, and how Lorney reacts to it. Even in the middle of a profound, potentially depressing event, Robb could lighten the mood.

Robb’s Life Chapter 30 – A Holiday Rush for the DeLaCerda House

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Jim Hughes (left) and Robb (right) listen as a contractor describes some work that is needed in the shelter.

The race was on in early December, 1995, as Robb and a group of volunteers worked to get a homeless shelter ready for HIV and AIDS clients in the Quad Cities. Robb wanted very badly to have the shelter open by December 15th, but it was obvious that was not going to happen.

Kelli Hughes and her husband, Jim joined the volunteers, tearing off drywall and helping with a variety of tasks. Kelli was HIV positive, and she is still alive and well in 2015, which no one expected when we shot this story.

Robb-Delacerda-Dec-6Robb was working so hard, but when watching this story, it is obvious that he is not feeling well. He isn’t smiling as much, and you can see the distress in his eyes from his illness.

Still, it is hard to believe that he only had four months to live as Christmas was approaching 20 years ago. The house he was so passionate about would be dedicated in his memory and named “Robb’s House.”

As you watch this, please keep in mind that you can honor Robb, help support Robb’s House, and keep his legacy alive by donating to the DeLaCerda House, a wonderful organization providing housing and support for people living with HIV and AIDS. Just visit their website at www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click the “Donate” button on the right side of the page.