Saturday, March 12, 2016

#SOL16: Goodbye Rob

Rob at Play with a Friend. 

Yesterday, friends, relatives, former students, parents and educators who offered tribute at my husband's funeral helped to characterize the man I have known these last 30 years. He was one of a kind. A master teacher. A loyal friend. A man who showed he cared with each gesture. A man who loved deeply and inspired love. A man who knew how to play and enjoyed doing so.

One former student handed me a notebook she had kept from when she was a student in Rob's English class. "His writing is in it," she told me as she cried. "He saw something in me I'm still trying to find." This woman was Rob's student a decade ago.

Another student, now readying to leave high school--the last students Rob taught while a middle school teacher--said simply, "Mr. Cohen was the best teacher I have ever had. The best." Later when he was exiting he asked me, "What books do you think Mr. Cohen would recommend I be reading now?" I invited him to come to our home and peruse Rob's library and help himself to some books.

A principal who we worked with in Newark spoke. She began by saying that often her students are not seen as having a lot of potential. She added that one of her teachers had the opportunity to observe Rob while teaching and this teacher brought back to the faculty important techniques and the more important belief that helped them to deeply know that all students can achieve, regardless of circumstance. Our friend, Laconia Therrio who officiated, summarized this belief Rob held so closely well. He said, "Rob didn't see at risk students, he saw at potential students."

I hoped as I listened that Rob had an ear to the ceremony. That he could see how much he mattered and continues to matter to those present. His legacy lives on in the work he did.

Towards the end of the funeral service, the song, Maybe I'm Amazed was supposed to be played. Instead, Led Zeppelin's Dazed and Confused came blaring through the speakers. No one seemed to know how this happened as the songs that were to be played were on the desktop of the computer. Nonetheless, we all shared in the humor of that moment.

I'd like to think it was Rob's way of having the last word.  Love you, Rob.


  1. I'm sorry that we couldn't be there yesterday, but I'll be in touch. It sounds like it was an entirely appropriate experience, given the sad circumstances.

  2. I have a strong feeling he was there, gazing at you and his son with love and pride and a smile. Love to you Mary Ann.

  3. As you know I'm a big fan of "if you don't say it, they don't hear it." I hope a lot of those folks said those things to you and Rob and Dev while he was here. But, as you say, he was likely listening in. And now, on with the Brilliance, Mary Ann!


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