Posted by: Joan Spiller | June 5, 2010

Catnip, taxi-drivers and (sentimental) journeys

You know how some people kind of make an impression on you, even though you perhaps don’t realise it? And maybe they don’t even realise they do either? Well, today I was reminded of someone who fits that category very much and thought I would share him with you. His name is Rob Simpson. And every day when I walk out the backdoor of the house here in Hawke’s Bay, I am reminded of him..
I lived in Auckland a few years ago but spent a lot of time travelling and it used to be I’d call the local cab co and ask for a driver and they’d dispatch some random car and all would be good. Then one day I was recommended “some guy”, who turned out to be Rob. Rob duly came to collect me from the airport one time and became “my taxi driver”  of choice from that time on.

I could always count on Rob. If he said he was going to be there (be it my home, office or the airport) he was there. Usually a few minutes early. So he could be waiting for me and never the other way around. In fact I do not ever recall having to wait for him.

It used to really make him fret if I made it to his car (we had one of those horrible sections where the house was up higher than the car park so I would make a trek down to the car pad and save him the hike up, if I could) he liked to park and come up to the house and carry my suitcase down to the car.

He’d have the latest newspaper on the backseat, waiting for me. I’d sit in his oh-so-comfy car and we’d chat about nothing much in particular. Or if I was tired or busy – we’d drive in silence. He’d always take the fastest route.. And usually turned the meter off long before he should have.

I even recall him arriving to pick me up one Sunday afternoon when I’d returned from overseas. He was very apologetic because he was in “civvies”. It turned out (he told me as we drove the 45 min drive home from the airport) that he’d been playing golf and stopped to come and get me!

Rob took CJ and I to the airport at dawn, the day we flew to Sydney for her 18th birthday “girls” weekend. He’d drop in on my birthday for a quiet drink and a chin wag. He was unassuming, possibly a little shy even. Gentle, kind and very sweet.

I remember one morning he came to collect me but I’d slept thru’ my alarm. Instead of banging on the door (he never ever tooted the car horn, he’d come up to the house!) he sat and waited awhile, texted me (my phone was off tho!) and then left me a message saying he’d come back later. He was worried HE had gotten the pick up time wrong and didn’t want to disturb me! He took me to the airport later that day after I’d rescheduled my missed flight lol

When Inky (our cat) had her 5 kittens, Rob decided he would like to have one. We were thrilled as we knew the kitten of choice would go to a very good home!

As the kittens grew up, Rob would call and ask if he could drop by and say hello.. I remember he seemed almost scared of these tiny little creatures .. But the cats just loved him!
So did we 🙂

Eventually, the day came we had to part with the kittens and Rob decided he needed to have 2, so they could keep each other company. VJ and Mindy, he called them: 1 boy, 1 girl. As I said: Rob was mad on golf, hence the VJ handle!

When we left Auckland to move to Hawke’s Bay – Rob came around on our last evening. He bought a bottle of wine, 3 wine glasses (in case all ours were packed! He was very on to it!) and some nibbles. We sat and yarned about nothing in particular, in a very relaxed fashion.. it was very typical Rob.

One year we’d gone up to Auckland for Xmas and popped in to visit Rob. And the cats 😉

That is the year we were given a tiny little potted cat nip plant from Rob’s garden. We’ve since had several self-seed from this one plant he gave us, including the one pictured ~ which is actually growing in the shingle where we dug up some pipes once!  And that is why I get a reminder of this friend every time I go outside – it’s the first thing I see when I open the back door and is a lovely reminder of how people can come into your lives and make an impression – probably without really meaning to. Just by being.

Rob died earlier this year very suddenly.
After complaining of a headache ~ he was dead a week later.
Makes you realise how fragile our grip on life is really.

And makes that catnip mean ever so slightly more than it already did.

RIP Rob, we miss you.


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