President Trump and My Brother Bob

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Having lived the first fifty years of my life in New York City, of course I was aware of Donald Trump but didn’t have any strong feelings towards or against him. But during and since the famous escalator ride, I realize how much he reminds me, warts and all, of my then-recently departed and much missed brother Bob. While this piece is about Bob, it might also explain the President’s hold on the public.

Bob had the Midas touch, everything he touched turning to gold. In business, he would cut a rival’s throat for a nickel and then give thousands of dollars to someone who needed a handout. Bob was a dangerous opponent, but a generous friend.

Bob was a lovable scoundrel, as evidenced during his three marriages. He divorced his first two wives to marry the second two (we’re still talking three here.) All of them cared about him and were in the hospital room crying and consoling each other as he lay in a coma at the end. Bob loved people. Sometimes too much!

Bob was an absent but financially responsible father. Although he made both his children miserable about it, he did fully finance their education. He thought the only worthwhile degree was awarded by the school of hard knocks. Still, he ensured that they would be financially independent for life. A few days before he died, he asked them:

“So, did I really have to throw good money after bad to some fancy-shmancy school for you?”

Bob couldn’t just relate an incident; whatever he wanted to convey became part of a standup comedy routine. Yet he never seemed to understand why people held their sides and doubled up with laughter as he made his point. Did he have a sense of humor? Was he trying to be funny? Who knows? But the day he died, my husband told me: 

“What I’ll miss most about your brother is hearing the way you laughed when the two of you were on the phone. You never laugh that way with anyone else.”

Once, I asked Bob to accompany me on a peacemaking mission between family members who had experienced a falling out. 

“Who? Me, you want to make peace? I’ll open my mouth and they’ll run to get weapons – guns, knives, who knows what. They’ll kill each other before my very eyes. A diplomat, I’m not!”

On that score, we were all in agreement. A diplomat he wasn’t. A bundle of charming and charismatic contradictions, he certainly was, and he is sorely missed. 

And that is why President Trump so reminds me of my brother Bob. To say both of them were or are a one-of-a-kind is a contradiction in terms. But they both possessed a certain something that absorbs all the oxygen in a room.