The year was 1990 and Bob was, in his own words, "living large." The then 29-year-old had graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee several years earlier and spent over a year on the pro golf tour. He went to build a thriving CPA firm and thought himself to be in a happy marriage.
Then it all came crashing down.
"I fell down two flights of stairs and hit my head on a steel door at the bottom," he recalled. "I was in a deep coma for seven weeks."
In later years, Bob's since-departed father would say that he believed the Holy Spirit was exceptionally close to his son at that time. Certainly, the Mother of God--spouse of Holy Spirit--was close. Bob came out of his coma on December 8, 1990, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Neither Bob, nor his family, believe that to be coincidental.
After coming out of the coma, a long road to recovery began. Bob's parish priest counseled him, and the entire family, not to set timetables.
"I had a decision to make," Bob said. "I could have continued to live a very meager life by just eating, sleeping and watching television. But by the grace of God I chose a different road. I vowed to live the rest of my life by always trying my very best in each of life's situations."
It goes without saying that these situations presented serious challenges. Bob's marriage ended, and has subsequently been annulled by the Church. He had to requalify for his driver's license, and did so. And then he sought ways he could serve others, resulting in a myriad of volunteer activities.
Bob splits his residency between Illinois and New Jersey, where his siblings are, but no matter where he is, he's volunteering at an Assisted Living Center each day. In New Jersey, he sings in the church choir on Sunday. He is also a Life-Teen/Edge Counselor at the parish.
"When I reflect upon this, glorifying God this was the best decision I made," Bob said. "Three years ago, after my first day (at the Assisted Living Center), I had this insight--for each human difficulty in life, God will always show us ways that we can advance and in doing so will grow closer to the Almighty."
For someone who was overcome so much--indeed because of it--Bob has an acute sense of God's grace and a deep gratitude that is genuinely inspiring. "I feel that I am the most fortunate person in the world," he said. "While logic tells me that there may be people as fortunate, I firmly feel that nobody could be, by the grace of God, more fortunate than I am." He credits his parents for having laid the groundwork for this gratitude, as they emphasized a complete dependence on the Almighty and a trust in His love.
Like everyone else on CatholicMatch, Bob is looking for that special someone. That hasn't happened yet, but given Bob's outlook on life, we shouldn't be surprised that he's making positive things happen, establishing a number of friendships, including two women that will be lifelong friends.
Bob is also back and enjoying the game of golf. Two players that he competed with on the tour heard of his accident in 1990, and through their connections with Wilson Sporting Goods, got him sponsored--a pro-style bag and a set of their finest clubs.
Golf has been more than recreation, it's been a way that God has helped Bob restore his self-confidence. "Before I hit my first shot, I will make the Sign of the Cross," he said. "This is my way of thanking God for the ability to golf again." He repeats the gesture at the end of the game, in thanks for the stamina to finish the round.
Most people who play sports know that the competition and effort has redemptive value beyond the recreation, and for Bob, playing golf and doing the things he's good at again, have helped build his self-confidence back up.
It's the presence of people like Bob who build up the CatholicMatch community and the Church as a whole. They are living witnesses to God's grace and mercy and what we can all do if we trust in Him more, and focus on what we have and can give.