Temporal life on worlds like ours is uncertain. Many of us will die too young. The universe that so generously gives us life, also takes it away in a heartbeat, for reasons beyond our knowing. As of this writing, I do not know what propelled my friend, Bob Epstein on into the mystery; just that it was sudden and unexpected, and he was gone six days before I even heard about it. Nobody knows how long they have here, of course, but it’s a shock when someone leaves suddenly, and you have been out of touch for awhile. That was the case with Bob; I always just assumed we’d bump into each other here or there. Not now.
I met Bob out in cyberspace in 1998. He was making awesome points and derby covers for Harleys, and it is a small world after all; turned out he lived less than fifteen minutes away. I was pouring money into a needy old ironhead back then, so I hopped on and rode out to his farm shop. As the sporty chugged to a stop, a tired looking old hound gave me a silent once-over before going back to his nap. A cool old Jag was also napping in the sun and weeds out by the shop, waiting patiently for Bob’s special attention and lots of cash. I think it’s still there.
His shop was a world-class exemplar of studied chaos. There was all kinds of shit everywhere, but like all right-brainers, there was uncanny method to his madness. He knew where everything was; well, almost everything. Bob was a gifted sculptor, a guy who could somehow squint through the blue smoke of a cigarette and make an exquisite little detail in wax or clay.
He was also a musician, who would find any reason at all to jam with his band, Dark Star Of Davidson. It’s a clever double entendre. But after his willingness to help you get your stuff done, it was his enthusiasm that I loved the most; he so enjoyed what he did; it was a contagious little chunk of joy that always flowed from his heart to yours.
Although he’s gone, Bob had already left a permanent mark on the biker culture when he licensed the Grateful Dead’s “Steal Your Face” logo from the album of the same name, and turned it into a beautiful sculpted derby cover for Harley Davidson motorcycles. If you were lucky enough to find Bob’s perennial booth at the Sturgis, South Dakota Black Hills Rally, or one of the dozens of other venues he used to schlep his wares to, and got your own little Epstein sculpture, you may just want to hold onto it; it’s a collector’s item now.
Some years ago, late one evening before his birthday, I secretly replaced his old rural mailbox with another one I painted in biker flames. Sure, he knew I did it, but it did blow his mind for a few seconds, and he had to wonder how long it might have been there before he noticed it. It was affectionate retribution for his showing up on my front porch the year before on my birthday, with a hideous green Halloween cake. He was a merry prankster, and I’m bummed he’s suddenly gone from this life. But as a Urantian, I take eternal comfort in knowing I’ll see him again in the next world, where we’ll have a nice long laugh, drink a tasty foamy beverage, and fondly reminisce about this crazy, too short life on the World of the Cross.
See you on down the road, brother. Keep the shiny side up.
“And now must all flesh on Urantia take the natural course of life and death . . . thus becoming subject to the ascension scheme of the local universe wherein mansion world resurrection follows material death.”
—The Urantia Papers