Beanery Online Literary Magazine

June 25, 2011

Goodbye, Bob Sanzi



Nancy Beaufort

Today, June 23, 2010, I said goodbye to my best friend.

     Bob and I were together for over seven years, longer than many marriages last. It started with an invitation to dinner and blossomed slowly into a deep bond.

     He and I shared many adventures. He took me to sprint car races, drag races and flat-track dirt bike races. We visited Watkins Glen and climbed up through the Glen, then retraced the old road race course. We packed his bike and rode it to Arlington, Texas, to meet up with the folks he rode with while he lived and worked there. We put another thousand miles on the bike before we made the return trip to Latrobe. We explored a bog near Wilmington, North Carolina in search of carnivorous plants. We rode the train to Chicago to attend the Auto Show, went to the bike show in Cleveland, and to model train shows every chance we got. Our times together also included quiet evenings in front of the television and outings with my grandchildren.

     All that changed Saturday, June 11, 2010. He said he felt really tired and complained of a headache. He lazed around the house and took a three-hour nap in the afternoon (un-Boblike). 

     Sunday, he didn’t want to go to church (very un-Boblike). I left the house alone. I picked up my mother, took her to church, and, before returning home, took her to lunch. When I arrived home, Bob complained of a headache and dizziness. I was quite concerned and insisted that he go to the emergency room. They did some blood work and a CT scan, then admitted him overnight with plans to do an MRI Monday morning.

     When I arrived at the hospital on Monday, Bob was still in radiology, so I waited for him in his room. I was shocked at his appearance when he returned—he was slumped in the wheelchair with his arms dangling over the armrests and his chin was almost touching his chest. When I bent down to look in his eyes, no one was home. The staff explained that they were unable to do the MRI and had repeated the CT scan instead. They found an ominous shadow at the base of his brain that had not been there the night before. Fearing that he had had a stroke, they made arrangements to send him to Pittsburgh. The helicopter arrived before I had even talked to his cousin and my daughter Kathy. The helicopter whisked him away and we followed much more slowly.

     Bob was already in surgery when we arrived at UPMC Presby Hospital. When the surgeon finally came out to talk to us, his report was grave. They performed an angioplasty procedure which successfully removed the clot. Unfortunately, the area in which it was located controlled such functions as breathing, speech and swallowing, sight, balance and the ability to walk and stand. Bob required a ventilator to breathe for him. 

     The next few days brought us faint glimmers of hope as he responded to simple commands to move fingers and toes and to squeeze hands. But he could not open his eyes.

     His daughter, Donna, arrived from Michigan and we met with the medical staff to assess his condition and hear their prognosis.  Donna and I talked and cried together in an attempt to decide what he would want and what would be in his best interest.  On Monday, we gave them our decision: difficult as it was, and based on things Bob had said following his heart attack and subsequent stay in a nursing home, we agreed to discontinue life support and to let Nature take its course.

     The doctors led us to believe that the end would come quickly without the ventilator to breathe for him. Unfortunately, they forgot to tell Bob. They extubated him at 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, June 21, and he settled into a steady but labored breathing pattern. I headed home that evening, certain I would be called back before morning. He made it through that first night without his ventilator and I felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe they were wrong. Maybe I’d be able to bring him home.

     My optimism was misplaced. As we sat at his bedside on Wednesday, we realized that he was fading. He no longer gripped my hand or wiggled his fingers. He couldn’t move his feet. His hands were puffy and swollen. I decided to stay with him through the night. Not wanting me to be alone, Kathy and her boyfriend stayed with me. We took turns sitting beside him and holding his hands. We catnapped in the recliner chair in his room and took turns escaping his room to walk the halls or get a bite to eat. I managed to get some sleep between eleven and three. When I woke, I could tell his condition was deteriorating. His breaths were shallower and less frequent. He struggled to draw air into his lungs.

     We maintained our vigil until about 7:30 a. m., when I decided to go get something to eat. Kathy decided to join me. Upon our return shortly after eight, we stopped to say good-by to his night nurse. Suddenly, the alarm on his monitor began to ring. I rushed to his room. It was 8:15 a. m. Bob was gone. I said a brief prayer of gratitude that his ordeal was finally ended.

     I know that my days will be emptier, and sometimes lonelier. I’m gonna miss Bob. He was quite a guy. I can only pray that one day our paths will cross again when it’s my turn to make that final journey. Oh, the things he’ll have to show me and the tales he’ll have to tell!

     Good bye, Bob. The seven years I shared with you were the best years of my life.

     Life is too short to take it seriously.



The Kentucky Derby & Flat Track Motorcycle Racing: Horses and Motorcycles

Times: They are A-Changing

Watch for the August 24th, 2010, posting of CAR CRUZ by Bob Sanzi



  1. Nancy, My name is Bill Steiner, one of the flying club guys. I did not not have much of a relationship with Bob, but he was one of my favorite characters at the field. Bob oozed a love of life that I admired and have great respect. I could tell in the few meeting we have had that you and Bob were genuine good people. I will miss him, and wish I had known him better.

    Comment by Bill Steiner — June 28, 2011 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

    • Thank you, Bill, for caring enough to share your sentiments.
      Carolyn Cornell Holland, facilitator of the Beanery Writers Group

      Comment by beanerywriters — June 29, 2011 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

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