Monday, December 15, 2008

John Has Gone Home

Hey, Y'all,

Today's posting is dedicated to my brother, John, who went to be with the Lord in the early morning hours of December 14th, 2008.

John was born on a cold February 25th, 1936. He was delivered at home in a house that belonged to the company that my parents worked for, The Holston Knitting Mill. John was delivered by the same doctor who had delivered his brother, Hugh, in 1928, and his sister, Ruby, in 1933. The doctor pronounced John to weigh seventeen pounds, and thus began John's journey in this world. John was the sixth and last live birth to our parents, James and Cecil.

When John was about sixteen months old, he became very ill and lost so many pounds that my parents thought he was going to die, and my mom took a picture of him, so that she would have it to record his being here. When they killed hogs, she made cracklings from the fat (made by cooking down the fat, and keeping what was left when the grease was poured off). She kept them in a dishpan in a lower cabinet. John got into the cracklings (called cracklin's, you know in the south, we often drop the g's) and had big handfuls of them, eating them. Mom said, "Oh, Lordy, he's going to die for sure, now!" But he began to get better, and survived.

As John grew older, his personality developed and he was the only one of her six children that Cecil could not bend their will to hers. He was stubborn to the nth degree. He maintained that characteristic throughout his life. Once he set his mind to a course, he did not easily change it or have it changed.

John had a great capacity for compassion, but did not easily reveal that to others. John was a loner, and I believe, shy about always revealing his feelings. Our mother was not a hugger, or kisser, so we didn't really learn how to do those things. We had no model for them.

Our cousin, Norma, was only two years younger than John, and her little brother, Fred, was about four years younger. Fred and Norma are the children of Bill and Mae. Bill is the oldest child in our family. The four of us grew up together and spent a lot of time together. We had some really wonderful times together.

John and I were very close, and got into trouble at the same times, because we were usually together.

When John was in the first grade, he wanted to get chocolate milk at lunch, and mom had given him the nickel to get it. He didn't know that they were only allowed chocolate milk on Fridays (rules, you know). When the teacher told him that he couldn't have it when he wanted it, he kicked her in the shins, called her a bad name, said that he "twit school" and left school, walking home. When my mother found out, she took him back to school, and made him apologize. She didn't know for years about the bad name he had called the teacher or that he had kicked her in the shins. Our Uncle John, one of dad's brothers, teased him for a long time, and asked him if he had 'twit school' any more.
John was a talented, gifted person. He had a genius IQ, and was a dreamer of doing big things. John has accomplished the ability to do a lot of things. Once he learned to do anything, the challenge was gone, and he moved on to other challenges. John didn't have to bring books home in school. He did his homework, even in high school, at school. He was forever working on inventing things. He built a crystal radio set when he was in elementary school. I felt it was my reponsibility to keep him humble by telling him 'It'll never work' about whatever he was trying to invent. Of course, that would just make him more determined to do whatever it was.
John had a buddy in elementary and high school named Robert, who was a whiz at electronics and could do just about anything with electronics. They competed for grades in high school and would race to see who could get their math homework done first. Robert was killed in a car wreck when they were just graduated from high school. I am sure John was greatly affected by the loss of his friend.

John went to University of Tennessee for a short time after he graduated from high school, but didn't finish. Then he joined the army and served for several years. He had a heart attack (his first of several) at the age of 25 and was medically discharged. He came home and felt the call to serve God in the ministry. He went to Golden Gate Seminary and while he was in California attending, he met his future wife, Darlene, and really fell for her, but felt the time was not right for marriage, so he waited and in later years renewed his acquaintance with her, and they courted long distance, and were married.

John came back to Tennessee with his Master of Divinity, but became discouraged when he could not get a pastorate. He then went to Carson Newman College and got a business degree and worked as an accountant for several years. Later, he got a degree in teaching economics, and taught economics at the local high school. We teased him about being a 'professional student'. It was during that time that he began courting Darlene again. By that time, she had been married and divorced and had a daughter, Becky. They got married, and had two children, Kevin, and Mark. When Mark was a baby, they decided to move to Phoenix.

There were several different jobs that John held while living in Phoenix. He became disabled in his later years, and his heart gave him great problems. He worked for the state in the finance department.

John was a voracious reader, (as the rest of his siblings were) and was always ready to share a good joke or story with others. He loved life, and his family. He was not easy to always get along with, because of his stubborn "I am right" attitude. However, John will be missed, and he was loved. Good bye brother, I know you are celebrating right now with our Mom and Dad, our brothers, Bill and Ralph, and our sister, Margaret, in the presence of our Lord. Our brother, Hugh, and I will be there with you one day. That circle then will be unbroken.

Other circles exist, and the circle of your present family is one of those. You have just gone ahead to begin that circle. I know they look forward to the time of rest with you, after their lives here have been completed.
A few years ago, John told me that he would like to have a particular song sung at his funeral. I found it for him, and here are the words to the song:
Gone Home
Verse One:
All of my friends that I loved yesterday
Gone home (they have gone home), gone home
The songbirds that sing in the dell seem to say
Gone home (they have gone home), gone home
They've joined the heavenly fold
They're walking the streets of pure gold
They left one by one as their work here was done
Gone home (they have gone home), gone home
Verse two:
Life here is lonely since they've gone before
Gone home, gone home.
The old weeping willow that stands by the door
Sadly says (they have gone home) gone home.
Verse three:
The trumpet will sound on that Great Judgment day
Gone home (they have gone home), gone home
We'll see all our friends that have gone on that way
Gone home (they have gone home) gone home.
(Lyrics written by Bill Carlisle)

(Pictures above:
1. John, holding grandson, Kevin James; brother Hugh; sister-in-law, Imazoe
2. John and Gramps
3. John and Hugh
4. John, age 12, with dog, Pedro
5. Kevin and Mark
6. John, Norma, Ruby (Grammy)
7. Fred, John, Norma
8. Standing in back: Hugh, Bill, Ralph; Standing in front: James, Cecil, Margaret
Kneeling in front: Ruby with daughter, Carol, and John
Well, that is it for today. This is Blabbin' Grammy signing off. More tomorrow. A lot to do today. Love to all of you. If I have made any errors in my facts today, please forgive them. Bye for now.


Tanya said...

i am sorry to hear about your brother. He is surely in Heaven with our Heavenly Father and family that has passed. I could have picked you out of those pictures. You look just the same as you did as a kid, amazing! Love you


What a lovely dedication to adear brother?. I was most inspired by what you wrote and as the other reader said you look just the same as all those years ago.You and your husband take care ofyourselves,
God Bless.


Whitney said...

We are sorry to hear of John's passing. We love you and are praying for comfort that only the Lord can give! TN said...

Hi Grammy, sorry to hear of John's passing. May he rest in peace in the arms of our Heavenly Father.

Grammy said...

Dear Friends,
Thank you all so very much for your sweet and caring comments!
Ruby (aka Grammy)

Mom B said...

Hey, Mom. We liked your suggestion of options for flowers, and followed through. Have you Knoxville folks considered a quiet memorial together at which you eat out (we ARE Campbell's, after all!) and just do some family remembering? I think it would be good for all of you. Love you!