I went to a memorial service Friday, and of course it was difficult. No matter how hard anyone tries to make them fun, lighthearted, and filled with good memories of the deceased, it’s still awful. Especially when the good died young, full of plans and hopes, and was someone you thought would be around for innumerable hours of need.
Johnny gave a lot more that he ever received. He owned and ran successful businesses, served in local government of the town he called home for many years, nurtured a family, and spent far too many hours volunteering and mentoring other people. He packed a lot into almost 67 years on the planet, with very little personal time. What time he had, he spent collecting, repairing and driving old cars, and he had plans to purchase aircraft to house on his recently expanded property. He had a lifetime of knowledge and stories, and never tired of telling you who he knew, how he met them and most importantly, what those individuals meant to him and taught him. Even when he was surrounded by people asking him for help and favors, when he spoke to you, you knew you had his undivided attention. He reveled in the joy of sharing what he knew, so others could carry the stories onward. Little did we know we would be asked to carry on without him this soon.
His death, like so many others in these pandemic times, was fast and with no warning. No goodbyes, no final words, and no best wishes. The virus did not take him away; a massive heart attack accomplished it instead. There is no good way to suffer a loss like this, no map to navigate empty and lonely times when you’ll pick up the phone to call or text, only to stop halfway and realize the dead don’t take a smartphone with them. Though Johnny was incredibly tech-savvy, and always had the latest device as soon as it was available, he no longer needs it. Personally, I’ll always look up to a guy whose energy was boundless, whose devotion to others bottomless, and whose enthusiasm for packing 30 hours of life into 24 hours day after day never diminished.
We miss you Johnny. We only wish we’d had more time.