At 58, Bob Madore doesn’t want to speed up time, but life will likely be better in two years when he’s back on his feet.

Last year at this time, he was active, had a job he loved with health insurance, and was paying the bills.

Now, all that is gone.

Bob Madore poses for a portrait at Head of Falls in Waterville on Tuesday. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

I met Madore on Tuesday near the RiverWalk at Head of Falls off Front Street in Waterville.

He was on a battery-operated scooter beside a tent the city put up for people who used to sit under the gazebo near the Two Cent Bridge but who now are being asked to use picnic tables under the tent located at the north end of the parking lot.

“I was head of maintenance at Waterville Public Library,” Madore said. “I was there for 10 1/2 years and head of maintenance for 5 1/2.”

He injured his knee during that time but didn’t tell anyone and kept working for  2 1/2 years, he said.

“It chewed up all the cartilage, so it’s bone-on-bone.”

Madore, who stopped working late last fall, also has a bad back. Between that and the knee, which needs to be replaced, he can’t walk the length of the parking lot, he said.

“It is the worst feeling ever. I thought my back was bad. It is bad when you’re in so much pain you can’t move — I couldn’t lie down, that’s how bad it was. But my knee — I can sleep all night, but I have to have my knee in a certain position.”

His doctor told him that before he can get a knee replacement, he must lose about 100 pounds. He weighs 345.

He is scheduled to meet with another doctor soon who will help him learn how to eat healthfully, he said. Further options may include gastric surgery, but either way, Madore has a long road ahead.

With his new situation, he has experienced a loss of self-esteem and feels trapped. His doctor wanted to give him pills for depression, but he declined, he said, as he doesn’t want to think of himself as in that condition.

“It kills you. It just sucks. I wanted to keep my insurance, but it’d cost me $1,000-and-something-dollars. That’s my rent money. I finally got MaineCare and food stamps and that’s good, but I have no way to pay my rent. Right now, my daughter and her boyfriend are paying it.”

The well-spoken Madore said he grew up in Lewiston and quit high school after the 10th grade because he was more interested in riding dirt bikes and hanging out with friends than attending class.

At 19, he married and had three kids, divorced and remarried. He would ultimately have three more children, including one with a woman he did not marry. He had a variety of jobs over the years, working in a shoe shop, moving furniture, landscaping. He moved to Waterville 22 years ago, worked as a foreman in a recycling center and volunteered at a hospital, among other things.

He adored his job at the library, where he said former library director Sarah Sugden was a great boss.

As he speaks, it starts to rain. Because the heavy picnic tables take up the entire area under the tent, there’s no way for him to get out of the rain, so I move a table sideways and he scoots in.

He said the RiverWalk is just one of the places he goes to during the day to get out of the apartment. He travels to The Concourse downtown and sometimes meets his son, Ryan, who works at Save-A-Lot, at the tent for lunch. Ryan bought him the used scooter for $150 and has rescued him a couple of times when its battery has run out.

“He’ll take the shirt off his back and give it to you if you need it,” he said.

I ask Madore where he hopes to be in five years. He wants to be healthy, he says, and working at a job that does not require physical labor.

“I wouldn’t mind watching a store security monitor — probably that would be the thing. I want to be able to be walking. I want to be able to ride a bike again and not worry about a battery running out. Just the walking’s going to be great for me. I just can’t wait.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 31 years. Her columns appear here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

 


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