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For Bob

Four little words, and they made all the difference.

By Lena FolkertPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 6 min read
"Love Ink" ©Lena Folkert 2023, created with Wombo Dream Ai

There's a story I've been wanting to write about for a while now, but the words had failed me. It was such a simple, fleeting experience... I couldn't think of a way to share the impact that it had.

Then, a fellow Vocal Creator and an all around amazing person received a highly deserved Top Story for sharing his remarkable experience with us, and after reading his own kind and insightful words, I found my voice.

So, a big thank you to Scott Wade for the little push I needed.


It's strange and wonderful how richly we can benefit from even the smallest of actions, the simplest of words.

On the other hand, of course, it's remarkable and undeniable how the simplest of actions, the most carelessly said words can make the deepest scars on our souls.

Like so many, I've been greatly influenced by the actions of those around me. And sadly, in most regards, the vast majority of negative influences in my life have been a direct result of the actions of the men in my life. Whether young or old, it has often seemed to me that men were there only to torment and stifle me.

Conversely, all of the positive and reinforcing influences in my life came from women.

Now, I think it's important that I pause here and vehemently profess my belief in the presence of wonderful, kind, insightful, positive, mild, GOOD men. And I also believe absolutely that there are mean, crass, stupid, useless, EVIL women in this world. I am by no means a "man hater." Though, I admit to have repeatedly growled and cursed, "MEN!" in my life. But no where near as much as I've said, "I HATE PEOPLE!" So, if you believe that this is a man-bashing story, please stand gently corrected. Actually, it's about the man who helped me to not be a "man hater."

Rather, I'd like to stop and share the amazingly positive and wonderful influence that one such, kind, insightful, mild GOOD man had upon my life.

And it really can be condensed into the four words he once used to describe me to my mother:

"The girl's a tryer."

They were simple words, and truth be told, I don't even remember them being spoken. I only recall my mother repeating them to me when I needed a boost in later years.

His name was Bob. The man who said such wonderful things about me, and I must admit up front that I remember very little about the man physically. He was balding, I am sure of that. And what hair he did have left was white as freshly fallen snow. His eyes were blue, and he was slightly round in the middle.

Other than that, I couldn't describe him if my life depended upon it. I don't remember his voice, the volume or the pitch, and I can't recall if his face was red or freckly or full of pox scars. I do remember vividly that his wife Nat had a neck that was genuinely coated in brown skin tags of varying sizes... but sadly, I don't remember much more of her either, except that she was equally as wonderful, if a little more reserved.

Bob and Nat. Even their names are so nondescript. So generic. But they were anything but.

And while the years may have all but wiped their appearance from my memory, I will never forget the feeling I got when I was around Bob.

Looking back, I am amazed at the impact that he had upon all of us. He was such a gentle soul, mild-mannered and always calm.

And yet, he was also fierce. But not the kind of fierce that made me afraid of him. Fiercely loyal, kind, protective, determined to do what was right. Fiercely dedicated to teaching us how to be good people.

Bob was an elder in the congregation that I grew up in, and he was the first man I came to know who did not make me feel afraid.

More than that, he made me feel worthwhile, valued... valuable. I never got the "children should be seen but not heard" vibe from Bob.

Of course, I was still shy and insecure, and I hid behind my mother's skirt more than not, but that was not Bob's fault. And he was one of the few people in the world whose hand I would have taken if he'd asked.

But there I go gushing. Back to the point, I suppose.

I only saw Bob a few days a week, if that. We lived a few hours from the Kingdom Hall that housed our congregation. And that's really one of the remarkable things about it. Two, maybe three days a week, we saw Bob for a few brief moments before and after our meetings. Some weeks, we never got to exchange words. And yet, I never doubted his love and respect for me.

Rather, I took it for granted.

My father, of course, was the polar opposite to Bob:

Loud. Obnoxious. Dangerous. Mean. Stupid.

In the end, it was Bob who gave my mother the insight and power to leave my father. And just in time as well.

He saved three lives with his wise and loving advice to a young, terrified mother of two.

And his influence upon the person I am today was profound and unrelenting. But the few moments every month that I was around Bob was enough to keep me grounded. (Of course, my wonderful, strong, amazing mother had something to do with it, too!)

It wasn't until I was in my twenties, that my mother finally shared those words with me. To her, they were almost an after thought. Though, I know she knew the impact they'd have upon me as well as she knew the genuine feeling that was behind their utterance.

I still remember the day I learned of Bob and Nat's deaths. After decades of not seeing them, my father dropped the news of their deaths in the same casual and careless manner that he always had mastered calling me fat, lazy, and stupid.

Usually reserved and stone-faced in public, both I and my sister immediately broke into tears.

Until that moment, even we had no idea the depth of the love and gratitude we felt for Bob.

Poor Bob and Nat died the way they lived. In love and together.

It was after we had the sad duty of sharing the news of their passing with our mother, and after we all huddled and cried for a while, that she finally shared Bob's words with me.

The words he'd spoken about little, four-year old Lena.

Without even knowing he'd spoken those words, I'd lived my life in that way, always with Bob in the back of my mind.

His contributions into my life were tiny and transitory.

Minuscule in moments.

But Immense in impact.

"The girl's a tryer."

No one else saw that in me. Not even myself. But because of Bob, I've never given up trying, and I never will.

Bob saved our lives in more ways than one. And even more than the big things, it was the small things, four little words that made the biggest impact.

With men like Bob Gepner and Scott Wade in the world, there will always be somewhere that women like me can feel safe.

And because of men like them, terrified, young girls can grow into strong, fierce women who are able to see the wonderful and good men that are out there.

Can you be like them?

Or maybe you know someone who was this for you...

If you do, share their name or your story about them in the comments! Let's honor the positive influences in our lives! <3

Sending love to Mike Singleton Mikeydred too!!! <3 He is always so encouraging and supportive and a friend of women! <3


Art & Words ©Lena Folkert 2023, all rights reserved.


About the Creator

Lena Folkert

Alaskan Grown Freelance Writer 🤍 Lover of Prose

Former Deckhand & Barista 🤍 Always a Pleaser & Eggshell-Walker

Lifelong Animal Lover & Whisperer 🤍 Ever the Student & Seeker

Traveler 🤍 Dreamer 🤍 Wanderer

Happily Lost 🤍 Luckily in Love

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (3)

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  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Heartfelt and loving tribute to Bob and the power of positive words!!! Thank you for sharing, Lena!!!💖💖💕

  • Tiffany Gordon about a year ago

    Beautiful work Lena! Glad 2 see you back. I believe that God sends us earth angels to help us on our life's journey! God bless Bob. Thx 4 sharing!

  • Thank you for sharing this Lena, I am glad that you finally managed to get this story out and this should be a Top STory as well

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