On a Wondrous Creation

Bob’s greatest creation, to hear him tell it, was his two children. He and Kitty had a son, Peter, and daughter, a sweet girl everyone called Toni. As everyone reading this is well aware, families are tricky things. A song lyric from the 1990s says, “A family is like a loaded gun; you point it in the wrong direction, someone’s gonna get killed.”

Despite the usual turmoil surrounding families, Bob’s family had added pressures. First of all, Bob’s job was incredibly stressful and caused the family to move often. Secondly, there was tension between Kitty and her children. Kitty had issues with addiction, and those issues often manifested themselves by verbal altercations with her children. Toni developed polio. Bob, despite his deep love for his family, was largely an absent father due to his work.

All of that made Peter grow up with extreme shyness and anxiety of his own. Bob’s family was wealthy, so money was never an issue for them, but money can’t buy happiness or stave off all pressures from a family. Peter’s school career was not stellar, and this seems odd considering that both Bob and Kitty had excelled at school. His shyness caused him to be socially awkward. He preferred to be alone to having friends or even to spend time with anyone else, really. Peter had to leave his prestigious prep school and attend a public school where he barely scraped by.

However, Peter excelled at working with his hands. Today, he is a carpenter who lives in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico and is renown for his work. Sadly, Bob never really understood Peter despite his complete dedication to his son. The social awkwardness manifested by Peter was foreign to Bob because he never had such issues himself. He was at a loss to try to help Peter overcome his issues.

Bob felt conflicted, you see, because he was so worried about Kitty’s issues with alcoholism and the ongoing and increasing pressures he felt at work. Still, his children’s situations needed attention. The family moved to the Virgin Islands for a while because doctors said that the warm, moist air would help Toni’s polio, but that didn’t seem to help much. He contemplated getting Peter professional help, but his own bad experiences with therapy made him balk at that option.

Yes, Bob loved all his family, deeply. Bob died of cancer in the 1960s. Kitty suffered an embolism and died a few years later. Toni took her own life at the age of 33. As we said, today, Peter works as a carpenter in the mountains of northern New Mexico. He chose New Mexico because it was where the family lived for a short but important time in their lives, and he had good memories of that period of their lives.

Until the time he died, and, despite the issues that the family faced, Bob insisted that the kids were his greatest achievement.

You know Bob for another creation. You see, Robert Oppenheimer is best remembered for creating the nuclear bomb for the United States.

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