I can hear the whistle blowing and visualize that massive train coming around the tracks with my dad, railroader Bobby Collins, as he is standing on the caboose, smiling, waving and taking it all in with dignity. On Saturday morning at 5:05 he was set free ... free of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, doctors, hospitals, medications and weakness. He is strong again.
The journey has been tough, but as a family – with the help of caretakers, extended family and friends – we got through it. There was a beautiful place in heaven waiting for this great man. I lost my husband, Brett, on April 7 this year, who was an awesome man. Losing the two most important men in my life within four months is heartbreaking, but they say God only gives you what you can handle.
My faith – truly – is my only saving grace, with some added humor. When my husband passed I told everyone my emotions were changing every three minutes, so I started naming them. It became fun amongst friends and family, and the list kept growing. I later started drawing characters to go with them. I hope one day to put it all together as a grieving process through a prayer and humor book.
My dad was my mentor and hero. He showed me how to listen to music loud, dance and have fun, how to love unconditionally and that material things don’t buy love or happiness. He told me to take what comes my way in stride, take care of the things you have, be a leader and always try to help others.
He was one of The Southsider Voice’s biggest fans. I received calls every week from him: “Great paper, Sis,” he would say, and daily calls about our TV show, “The Young and the Restless.” That stopped about 16 months ago, and that’s when my grieving started. His advice through the years has helped me be the person I am today.
I’m already missing him, but by closing the newspaper’s storefront last year I was able to work from home or at Mom and Dad’s home and be with him more, and that is priceless. My heart goes out to those who have experienced these horrible diseases and their families. I pray that a cure is found. What are the chances of a mother and daughter becoming widows within four months of each other? As the grief counseling begins, Mom and I are looking for the two-for-one special. Dad, thanks for providing all of us with such a great life.
79, passed away peacefully Aug. 3, 2019, from complications of dementia and Parkinson’s diseases. He was born to Cicero and Mary Ellen Collins on July 25, 1940, in Beech Grove, Ind. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Carolyn (Kelley) Collins; daughter Kelly Collins Sawyers; son Sean Collins (Tammy); grandchildren, Austin (Kayla and Andie) and Alex (Maria) Smith, Nathan and Brenna Collins; great-grandson, AJ Smith; three stepgrandchildren, Morgan, Alli and Ryan; two step great-grandchildren; siblings Glen (Nancy) Collins, Loretta (Mick) Wampler, Betty Stricker, Don (Janet) Collins and Robin (Brad) Lane; former daughter-in-law, Lisa Collins (mother of Nathan and Brenna); special nephew and family Keith (Gail) Collins and Bre; special brother-in-law and family Steve, Melissa, Jasmine, Jared and Jacob Miller; many nieces and nephews; cousins in Dayton, Ohio, and Berea, Ky.; and his “adopted” family, longtime neighbors Perry, Linda and Kyle Knezevich.
“Bobby,” as he was known by many, was a huge IU and Bobby Knight fan, loved white Russian drinks and dancing (back in the day), and enjoyed train shows and trips with brothers, Glen and Don. He had a heart of gold and was the best husband, Dad, Papa, brother, uncle, friend and boss that anyone could wish for. He loved listening (loudly) to the music of Janis Joplin, Bob Seger and Carrie Underwood – just to name a few – with his daughter, Kelly, watching IU games at home or at pubs and attending Hoosier Hysteria with his son, Sean, and a yearly Monster Truck event with grandsons, Austin, Alex and Nathan.
He and Carolyn were always in the stands for their grandchildren’s games and events and even made it to some of their great-grandson’s games. He always had individual bags of candy for his grandkids and others at every gathering. When picking up grandkids, he would have it sitting on their seat(s). Bob and Carolyn have a huge group of friends, many from high school. They have traveled with family and friends, taken train trips, cruises, vacations and were truly blessed to enjoy retirement.
Bob, a 1959 graduate of Beech Grove High School, also loved watching Colts and Pacer games, classic movies, crime shows and his daily favorites ... “The Young and the Restless” and “Wheel of Fortune.” He enjoyed golfing, gambling and playing the lotto ... OK, OK, OK, and scratch-offs (his favorite Christmas and birthday gifts).
His favorite newspaper was The Southsider Voice, owned and published by his daughter, and he loved attending the paper’s monthly Car Nutz cruise-ins. He was organized and kept an immaculate home, lawn and vehicles. Those qualities helped him advance during his 42-year career for the railroad. He retired in 2000 from Amtrak as the assistant superintendent.
A trim shop was dedicated after him. He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings, Eva, Cicero Jr., Jeanette and Ruby; and son-in-law, Brett Sawyers. The family’s faith is comforting them through this difficult time by knowing his son-in-law, Brett, was waiting in heaven, saying, “Come on, Bobby,” as he always said while traveling with and caring for him. Brett passed away unexpectedly April 7, 2019.
A special thank you to his main caretaker Dennis Huntington, of Right at Home In Home Care & Assistance, Connie Jones who helped with support and transitioning, and all of the other caretakers from different agencies, Franciscan Hospice House staff, and family and friends who have supported the family during this difficult journey.
Visitation will be at Little & Sons Funeral Home, 4901 E. Stop 11 Road, from 1-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, with a celebration of life starting at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Franciscan Hospice House, 8414 Franciscan Lane, Indianapolis, IN 46237.