February 14, 2006 at 10:31 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
My brother-in-law just passed away.  We were expecting it, just not this soon.  Can you ever really "expect" it?  I was asked to say a few words.  I have never given a eulogy before.  Never even seen one, except on TV.  But here is what I prepared:

Hi, everybody.  I was asked to speak a few words.  John didn’t want a fancy service.  But he wanted a little something.  And WE, we need something.

Everyone who knew John knew that he was a good guy.  But not everyone knew all the things he did, to earn that reputation as a good guy.  Because he was also modest about it. 

When I first met John, he was living with his mother.   Because she really, really needed someone to take care of her.  Linda had been living with her, and taking care of her, and when it just got to be to much for her—and anyone who knew their mother understands how that might be—John stepped up to the plate.

Soon after, when Linda and I needed a place to live, dirt poor and with a baby on the way, John had a house for us to live in, so cheap it may as well have been free.  And there I heard more, as I learned about the family, what John had done.

Mike and Melissa, Linda’s oldest kids, I thought were like my own, but they were really John’s.  When John’s sister had two kids very young and needed help, he was there.  It’s hard, real hard, to raise kids as a single parent.  These two turned out alright.  She had John to help.  Uncle Johnny.

That was his name.  Even adults call him that.  He was a big brother to everyone.  I got to see the home movies of this family.  To tell you the truth, a lot of it I don’t remember, because I didn’t know everyone when I saw them, so I didn’t have a frame of reference for them.  But I got a good view of the family growing up.

John was big, he was strong, and he loved the kids.  He was always playing with them, wrestling them, having some kind of interaction with them, all the time.  Playing with them.  That’s what kids remember, when big people pay attention to them.

As Linda’s kids got older, John was there to help them out.  By the time I came onto the scene, Mike was close to driving age.  I sure didn’t get him his first car, I could barely afford the one I had.  Uncle Johnny.  In fact, Johnny was there to give Linda away at our wedding.  I had to throw that in just because she thinks I don’t remember anything. 

Just lots of things like that.  When Mike needed a place to stay for a while, with four kids. John was there.  He took in a homeless teen in the neighborhood, too, because he needed a place to stay.  He took care of the kids, and the kids’ kids.  And he was always there, for every special event, every family function, birthday, what-have-you.

He took the whole family to Disney.  He loved the kids, all of them.  And they loved him.  Kind of odd, don’t you think, that he never had any himself?  Well, his feeling was, he thought he might be crazy, and didn’t want to pass that on to his kids.  He loved kids too much to have his own.  Is that a sacrifice?  I think so.

So when he got sick, he didn’t want to be any trouble.  But Mike and Melissa weren’t going to let that sit, with this man that had taken care of them.  They decided Melissa would took him in.  

And even then Johnny took care of her.  You should see her yard, all the flowers and plants and trees he planted.  These things he really enjoyed.

They guided him through the processes, handled all the paperwork, and Melissa got him to the doctor.  All the things kids do to take care of a parent.  And I know Mike took care of him too.  Who do you think cut his grass, worked on his house, worked on his cars, and other things like that? 

And we all knew, and he knew, that this last year and half, these were his last days.  I think he enjoyed them, mostly.  He wasn’t working anymore, finally.  He got to spend a lot of time with the kids, and he got to plant a garden, and flowers, and trees.  All of the things he really enjoyed.  He got to go fishing a few times, I know.   In the spring, when flowers are in bloom, we’ll be thinking of him.

And I knew, but didn’t say anything, that when Melissa took him in, that this day would come.  After they had him with them, a part of their family, and then he would be gone.  And I knew how hard that would be.  On her, on the kids, on everyone.  I know she wasn’t really looking ahead to this day- -that’s too hard to think about. But for her, it wasn’t even a question.  This is what you do for your parent.

I wanted to say I am very glad, very happy, that he got to do some of the things he wanted to do. And I’m glad that we were able to have a big birthday party for him, just last year, to let him know how much we all love him, and how many of us.

So Mike and Melissa, they are just like Johnny’s kids.  But it reaches farther than that. All of them—all the little ones—are Johnny’s kids.

And now he is up there watching us, taking care of all of us.


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  1. You have touched my soul with this blog about Uncle Johnny!!  There are too few Uncle Johnny\’s out there.  My Dad was one of them.  He has been gone since Feb. of 1980 and I still miss him like it had happened tonight because he built beautiful memories with us in his lifetime. 
     Sometimes, one has to come back to a blog and read the "rest of the stories" to learn more about a man who "wants to think he\’s a pig cause he\’s a man" and will "piss on the toilet for spite."  haha.. 
    I think you are REAL MR.  and that\’s a good thing.
    Take this as a threat or a promise…"I shall return"
    hugs, lottiemae

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