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Memorial created 03-16-2008 by
Lois West
Robert Lee West
August 1 1941 - December 30 2005

 

 

 

This online memorial was created in loving memory of Robert West, whose life story is told throughout this memorial website. Please sign Robert's guest book and let us know you came to visit. We will remember Robert forever.

Bob was a wonderful person, with a great sense of humor.  He grew up on a farm and the minute he hit eighteen he was out of there and into the Marines.  He loved being a Marine and was very good at his job.  He had an outstanding record with the Marines and was given an Honorable Discharge when he left .  He was given the position of drill sergeant but was unable to take it because of family problems.  Because of these same family problems he left the Marines and started on the next chapter of his life.  He knew if he wasn't going to be a Marine then he wanted to be on the state police.  He worked several jobs while trying for the state police.  The requirements were more rigerous in the 60's and his being only 5'8 kept him out for a few years.  Finally he was accepted and went on to an outstanding career.  He was very meticulous, very careful with his cases and if he caught you, you usually stayed caught.  He was highly thought of by his fellow officers and even today, 20 years after his retirement, stories of his escapades still make the rounds. 


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Bob was very charismatic and always had young ladies chasing him, much to my amusement and his chagrin.  He never understood it, never understood how very fantastic he was.  It takes a very special person to be a police officer.  He took a thankless, heartbreaking job and held himself to very high standards even through the most difficult of times.  His very first accident investigation involved a teenage boy who died in his arms.  He saw so much senseless violence and death, so many thoughtless actions that led to tragedy.  My heart broke many many times for him, watching him be so strong in the face of so much horror.   His career spanned 20 years, with a 20 year mandatory retirement, and he saw so much in those years, so much that would have hardened many hearts, but not his.  He remained a compassionate, caring person to the end of his career, to the very end of his life.


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Bob, like everyone, had tragedy in his life.  His daughter, Melinda, was killed in a car accident in the early morning hours of thursday, February 9th, 1984.  Every parent dreads that knock on the door, that telephone call, and for those that get it, life is changed forever.   

People don't understand that you don't just "get over" the death of a child.  You do move on, but you take that child with you, in your heart.  Even to this day, 24 years later, my heart aches for Melinda.  I don't know how Bob, or any parent, survives the agony of such a loss.  But, thinking of Bob and Melinda together again does lighten my heart.

 Eventually time does pass and you find you are living a new "normal".  Bob moved on but he spent a lot of time at Melinda's grave.  I believe a large part of his heart was in that grave with her 

 

Melinda ---------------------------------------------------->>>

 


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Today, March 23rd., Easter Sunday,  is my birthday.  Its hard to spend the special days without Bob.  He always got up early and made coffee (which he did everyday, anyway) what a wonderful husband!!!  To get up all raggedy looking and having a cup of coffee waiting on the table for me.......what bliss!  Bob never forgot a birthday, an anniversary, or any special day.  What a phenomenal mind he had.  He even remembered the day we met!


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I don't remember much about Bob's funeral.  I know he had a state police honor guard and that we were escorted to the cemetary by state police cars and motorcycles.  The motorcycle police rode ahead and stopped all traffic for us, then sped past us to get back to the head of the procession.  Bob was buried in the Delaware State Police uniform and he had a wonderful smile on his face.  Friends and relatives spoke at the service and there were many laughs brought on by the retelling of his exploits.  Even I was able to laugh through the tears.


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Bob's death was totally unexpected.  In early November he went to the hospital for minor surgery.  After the surgery he was told that a shadow had been found on his chest x-ray.  They then did a biopsy and found that he had lung cancer.  The doctor that brought him this devastating news was brutally cold and distant.  Fortunately another doctor soon came to the room with the welcome news that the cancer had just started and was a very small spot.  He assured us that with radiation and chemo the prognosis was good.  Our fear abated somewhat with this news and our life was soon a whirl of treatments.  Bob was an excellent patient, even joking that now he had his own tattoo (for the radiation treatments) and that soon he would be up with me.  He did very well through the first three radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  After the third chemo session he started feeling sick and was soon so ill that on tuesday, December 27th, I took him to the emergency room at the nearest hospital.  There we waited four hours, all the while he was having severe chills and finally  he was given a blanket, not by a nurse but by the security guard.   Finally we left and went to another hospital.  There they took us almost as soon as we arrived.  After taking us to the exam room they did several medical tests and numerous x-rays.  Bob had never complained about any of the tests or treatments he had been through, but the person doing the blood test was so inefficient that it was very painful.  After all the testing was done and the x-rays examined we were sent home.  Bob suffered thru the next day, then the following day, December 29th, he went in for his fourth radiation and chemo treatments.  He was so weak that once he arrived at the hospital he requested a wheelchair to take him to the room for the chemo.  There they discovered he was dehydrated and put him on fluids for four hours.  This wasn't sufficient so they admitted him to the hospital.  Soon visiting hours were over and I had to leave.  They told me I could come in early the next morning, that I didn't need to wait for visiting hours to start.  When I arrived there I walked into his room where he was joking with a nurse.  I was hustled right back out and made to put on a paper coverup and mask.  I went back in and I could tell he was frightened.  He told me that the chemo doctor had asked him his wishes on resuscitation.  He had told the doctor no resuscitation and they had put a purple band on his wrist.  The doctors had not talked to us and  these things were our first indication that something was seriously wrong.  He said he had changed his mind about being resuscitated but they hadn't taken the purple band off of his wrist and he was very worried.  The nurse came back in and finally the band was removed.  She was taking his pulse when she said that his heart had missed a beat.  The room was soon filled with doctors and nurses and I was pushed back out again.  I can only  imagine his terror.  His heart was racing at almost 150 beats and they decided to shock him.  They did it twice.  I think that was when I lost him.  They all left, saying nothing to me and he was moved to another room. I was allowed to ride in the elevator with him but once in the room I was pushed out into the hallway outside of the wing.  There I was left for hours.  Finally a priest came out and took me back into the wing and I was given a chair to sit in.  I had no idea where Bob was and no one would tell me.  I was terrified.  Finally a female doctor came to me, took me back out into the hallway, told me that they had tried numerous times to insert IV's into his arm veins and  the veins kept collapsing.  They tried to put an IV into his chest, his lung collapsed and his heart stopped.  They got his heart going again but he was on life support and I had to make the decision as to what to do.  There was no decision to make, his wishes were well know to me regarding life support.  Finally, finally, I was allowed to see him.  His arms were covered with IV's, his wrists tied to the bed rails.  It was apparent he had had a stroke.  I went and held his hand, told him I loved him and he weakly squeezed my hand.  The chemo doctor, who wasn't in the room, told me later that this was just a reflex reaction and meant nothing.  There was no doctor present.  I held Bob in my arms, asked him if he would come and get me when it was my time, and  I held him closely to my heart as the nurse turned off the life support.  The nurse took me back to the priest, where the chemo doctor was waiting.  He told me that anything I thought I had felt was just a reflex reaction of Bob's body, asked if I had any questions, and left.  No other doctor came and spoke to me.  Finally a friend came and took me home.  This is the first time I have allowed myself to relive that entire day. Bits and pieces of it have entered my mind over the last two years but I pushed them firmly out.  I really don't know how to live with this, but I have for two years.  I am so angry at myself for allowing them to push me around, for not insisting that I be with Bob, for standing out in the hallway while Bob lived his last day.  From what I can understand from the death certificate, severe dehydration caused blood clots which caused a stroke.  Why didn't the emergency room, with all their painful bloodwork, find out he was in that condition?  Why? 

One final thought: the nurse that turned off his life support, in her way of trying to help me, told me that "sometimes these things just slip through the cracks."  Meaning Bob.

 


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Look at Bob's eyes in his Marine Corps picture.  He looks so sure, so proud and so enthusiastic about the road his life is taking.  Now look at his eyes in his state police picture.  They are so changed.  His road has taken him past much pain, pain of his own and the pain of others his chosen career has brought into his life.  His eyes looked wearily at the world but he stayed strong.  He lived a life he should be so very proud of.  He was a comfort and a help to so many many others.  I am proud of him, he made me a strong person.  But I can only bear his loss by knowing that we have a future together.

 

 


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I know that some people don't believe in heaven or an afterlife.  I do.  I know that we weren't alone in that hospital room, that his daughter, Melinda, his parents and grand dad, his friends, were there waiting to take him home.  That while I was standing there holding his body he was arriving at a fantastic "Welcome Home" party.

Bob and I would sometimes talk about how a person could stand a devastating loss without that belief.  It seems that God must bless us all and give us strength, even those that don't believe.  But then, what else would a loving God do?

 


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I know you are with me, you are in my heart and soul forever.

 


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imikimi - Customize Your World


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imikimi - Customize Your World

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I miss you Bob, more then words could ever say, but our hearts are entwined forever


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