© 2022 KSUT Public Radio
NPR News and Music Discovery for the Four Corners
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Remembering Bobby McCoskey, lost to COVID, through the song 'Closing Time'


One million people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19. NPR has been remembering some of them through the music that gave their lives meaning. We call these tributes Songs of Remembrance. Today Debra McCoskey-Reisert remembers her brother, Bobby McCoskey, and his favorite song, "Closing Time" by Semisonic. Bobby was a Salvation Army bell ringer and a Special Olympics state silver medalist. He loved people and dancing and slot machines.

DEBRA MCCOSKEY-REISERT: I think one of our last trips was to Tunica, Miss. We met to play at the casino. Bobby loved the slot machines, and it got late, so we decided to go back to the hotel. Well, we decided to first knock on Mom's door and take off running first. And we were all laughing so hard in the hallway, and it was almost like we were little kids again.


MCCOSKEY-REISERT: There were dances specifically for people with disabilities. Bobby went, and he fit in very well there. It was a place that he could go, have a really good time, be accepted. Many of us know the song because it's playing when the bars close. Well (laughter), it's played at the end of the dances as well.


SEMISONIC: (Singing) Closing time. Turn all of the lights on over every boy and every girl.

MCCOSKEY-REISERT: But there are some lyrics in "Closing Time" that get to me a little bit. I think one of them says something about until your brothers and sisters come.


SEMISONIC: (Singing) This room won't be open 'til your brothers or your sisters come.

MCCOSKEY-REISERT: And it makes me think that Bobby being in heaven. And then at the end, it says...


SEMISONIC: (Singing) Closing time - every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

MCCOSKEY-REISERT: You know, Bobby's gone now. And now we've had to learn what life looks like without him. We received a call on April 8 of 2020, saying that Bobby had tested positive for the virus. And the next couple of weeks were up-and-down. I called him up and I said, hey, Bobby. Guess what day it is? He said, your birthday. I said, did you get me something? And he said, well, I tried to. I thought he meant he tried to get something from the gift shop. I was wrong. He made a painting for me. And that's the day they released him from the hospital.

When I finally reached him on Saturday morning, he was not himself anymore. I called the nursing home, and I said, I want you to take my brother back to the hospital. Something is not right. And they didn't send him back to the hospital. On Wednesday, a lady from the nursing home called. I thought she was just calling to give me a report, and she told me that, Robert passed tonight. At the time in Indiana, funerals were limited to 10 people. But that wasn't the way to send Bobby off. Bobby was extra-special. He would never have loved to sit through a funeral (laughter).


SEMISONIC: (Singing) So gather up your jackets. Move it to the exits. I hope you have found a friend. Closing time.

MCCOSKEY-REISERT: There was a parade around my mom's block that began with a fire engine, a Salvation Army truck, a Special Olympics van, tons of family and friends that had smiley-face balloons tied to their cars. Our family stood out, ringing bells and holding signs that said, be kind for Bobby, or, honk for Bobby. And it was the greatest celebration of his life.


SEMISONIC: (Singing) I know who I want to take me home. I know who I want to take me home. I know who I want to take me home.

KELLY: That was Debra McCoskey-Reisert, remembering her brother, Bobby McCoskey, who died at the age of 55 from COVID-19.


SEMISONIC: (Singing) Closing time - time for you to go out to the places you will be from. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Related Stories