Passing of Robert Morrison.... a builder of stone fences

By Stanley A Stalla | Jun 03, 2016

Belfast —

The put-put of a John Deere mower returning home, chugging up Green Street.  The tap-tap of a carefully placed rock in a perpetual construction and reconstruction of garden walls.  Leaning on a shovel handle as two family cats saunter by, extolling the little helpahs contributions to the backyard project of the day.  The "Heeeyyyyyyy..." that greeted us morning, afternoon, or evening, as we worked in our garden next door. These familiar sounds are no more, with the sudden passing of our neighbor Robert Morrison on Thursday morning.


We will remember Robert as a builder of fences..... stone walls, to be exact.  They weren't the type of fences that keep neighbors apart.  No, they were Robert's perpetual hand at creativity, with their varying curves and heights and combination of thick and thin, round and oblong, many heavy and some not-so cumbersome.  Robert's fences were a big part of his life.  During the summer, he seemed to have a steady list of clients demanding his lawn-mowing services.  But even after a busy day of cutting grass and raking leaves, Robert always found a couple of evening hours to work on his latest wall.  Shovel or pick-axe in hand, he cut away the hillside to the level he wanted to start placing his rocks.


Robert's work was never done.  Completed walls were disassembled to make room for more flowers.  Massive stone benches were heaved into a different part of the yard, to gain a better view of the bay in the distance.  Steps were undone.  Wheelbarrows of dirt were heaped in new sections, reflecting Robert's ever-evolving idea of how his backyard should be.


Just the other evening, my stepson was chatting with Robert at the end of the day.  I heard him ask Robert when he thought his backyard project would be finished.  Whatever Robert replied, I knew in my heart that he would be hauling flat rocks and wheelbarrows of dirt until the day he drew his last breath.  And that's the way it ended, just a bit sooner than I had thought.  We'll miss Robert's "Heeeeyyyyyy, how y' doin'?"

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