Submitted by his wife
This tribute is for Robert G. Brooks‚ Sr.‚ who was my 42-year old husband‚ my best friend and a terrific father to our five children: Desiree‚ Robert Jr.‚ Patrick‚ Maxwell and Gabriel. Everyone would say that when they first met Bobby‚ they felt they had known him for years‚ and that he was very animated. This was Bobby’s character. Bobby and I (Shannon) got married on May 19‚ 1995. We had already had our daughter‚ Desiree‚ who was born February of 1993. After she was born‚ for the next 10 years‚ we had so much love between us that we completed our family and were blessed with four boys. Bobby was a very hard worker‚ and a godly man. He always believed that he was the sole provider and I should stay home and nurture and care for the children.
Soon after Bobby and I had gotten married‚ we had both decided that we were eventually going to move to upstate NY and purchase a house. It wasn’t until Spring of 2004 that we got that opportunity. After our 5th child‚ Gabriel‚ was born we contacted a realtor in Pine Bush and she set up an appointment for us to come and look at some houses. We took the children out of school that day and drove upstate and were shown 7 different houses. The last house that we were shown was located in Montgomery‚ NY. As we walked through the door and were being toured‚ my husband and I liked what we had seen and the children were already choosing their rooms. The ironic part of this story is that the number 7 means completion in the bible and it was also my husband’s favorite number. When we left‚ we went back to the real estate office and started the process of buying our first house. On September 1st‚ we moved into our new house on Pleasant Avenue.
In the process of finding our house‚ my husband kept telling me how he wanted to become part of the community and wanted to join the fire department. On September 15th‚ he came home after work that morning and he looked like a little kid in a candy store with a grin from ear to ear; showing me his pager and telling me that he had joined the Montgomery Fire Department. He was going to start Firefighter I training in January of 2005. I could see the passion and glow in his face now that he had joined the fire department.
For the next 6 months‚ we both worked very hard‚ with me still unpacking boxes and taking care of the house and children; also Bobby working as an operating engineer for refrigeration and air conditioning in Manhattan; working overtime‚ running to fire calls every chance he got‚ spending time with his children‚ and also counting down the days to his final in Firefighter 1 training. Every day was crazy; especially with five children‚ but great. He was always so proud of his family.
On the morning of March 26‚ 2005‚ the Saturday before Easter‚ Bobby woke up happy‚ ambitious‚ yet nervous because that was the last day of training and the day of his final. He gathered all his stuff and I gave him his coffee to take with him. He looked at me and said‚ ‘I’m excited‚ but scared‚ and maybe I’m just thinking too much.’ Just as he was ready to leave‚ the baby had woken up and walked into the living room and ran to Bobby to give him hugs and kisses good-bye. He went down the stairs‚ looked up into the house‚ and then turned and looked at me and the baby. I told him‚ ‘Don’t worry‚ you’ll do great. Be safe and I love you.’ Then he told me‚ ‘Thanks‚ I needed to hear that.’ He then left to go to the training center. My daughter and I started to prepare his favorite meal for lunch that day as a celebration for his graduation from Firefighting 1. At about 9:40 a.m. when the phone rang‚ the Assistant Fire Chief called me saying that Bobby had collapsed at the training center and was being rushed to Horton Hospital. He also told me that a firefighter was on his way to pick me up and bring me to the hospital. After I arrived at the hospital‚ the doctor told me that my husband had a berry aneurysm that had burst in his brain and caused his brain to fill with blood. Due to the brain being the primary function of his body‚ it didn’t have enough time to tell his heart to keep pumping‚ so in turn‚ he had a massive heart attack. The doctor had told me that as vicious as aneurysms are‚ he felt no pain and just blacked out. I then asked the doctor what are my husband’s chances and she told me he wasn’t going to survive. After spending the next four hours in the hospital and dreading going home and telling the children‚ God started to prepare me for the future and the truth that my best friend and the love of my life was not going to grow old with me. On Monday‚ March 28‚ at 11:50 a.m.‚ Bobby went home and entered the gates of Heaven.
One unique part to this ending is that my husband used to do this thing with each of the children from the time they started crawling: while he would play with them‚ he would stop and take their hand and put it on his heart and say‚ ‘Do you feel that? That’s my heart pumping and it beats for you and your momma.’ So when they shut the machines off‚ I sat there with my hand and ear on his chest‚ and when it got too faint to hear it‚ I stood up‚ but left my hand there – feeling it beat. When the machine got to number 2‚ my hand felt his last heartbeat. I kissed him‚ left the hospital and came home. I explained what happened to my daughter and I told her that I grabbed Daddy’s last heartbeat for all of us.
At Bobby’s wake‚ the instructor from Bobby’s Firefighting 1 class approached me and handed me Bobby’s certificate of completion for the Firefighting 1 class. He told me that although he didn’t make it into the last evolution because he collapsed‚ that he knew he would have graduated. After his wake and funeral‚ I really began to see how supportive and helpful all the brothers from the fire department were. After three months of thinking about everything‚ I felt I wanted to honor my husband in a noble way and I joined the Montgomery Fire Department. I felt he was so dedicated to helping people and such an inspiration to others that I wanted to let him live on through me and pick up where he left off and carry out his dream. In May of 2006‚ I graduated and received my certificate for Firefighting 1‚ and am pursuing to take more classes in the Fall. My husband was a good man‚ and I can’t say enough about him. Throughout this past year‚ we’ve all felt his spirit and presence in the house and all around us. And yes‚ Bobby is not here in person‚ but he will always live on in our hearts.