Today I found out one of the most important people in my life passed away a few months ago. 10 days after I last spoke with him, but because of my hip surgery I didn’t reach back out to him until this week. When he didn’t respond, I weirdly did an obit search and sadly found one.
John was the most interesting, fun, and intelligent person I’ve ever met. He is responsible for so many of my better attributes. His daughter died a couple of years ago, and I know every day was torture for him since then. I know he’s at rest. But, the world is a less vibrant place.
I’m crushed not because he died (I have unusual feelings about death) but because in the spring I said to him, “John, you’re the best raconteur on earth, with the funniest stories… let’s do a series of videochats of you telling stories and we’ll make them into a compilation for your grandson.” We did one. Life got busy. That was what I reached out to him to continue last week. The world, and his grandson, would have loved those stories. He had countless *really good* stories. Like the time he went to Queen Noor’s speech and ended up leaving with her personal copy. Or the time he ended up talking to the King of Spain when no one else would. Literally thousands of really funny, poignant, unbelievable stories. He was really something.
His dad did an “oral history of detroit” i think in the 70’s, and i’m sure it’s in the archives in the detroit historical museum. That’s why i thought the idea of chronicling his many stories would appeal to him. Plus, I really wanted to “see” him regularly. Over the 30 years I knew him, I enjoyed every minute.
He taught me to smile for no reason, to be kind to every person I encountered because being overtly kind and engaging is a nice way to live your life. It also sets you up to have unexpected delights most people would pass right by. He never feared red tape (he actually seemed to relish it, because unlike your average bear, he had no problem sorting it out). He lived the maxim: move fearlessly in the direction of your dreams. He considered himself the voice of the helpless and he worked tirelessly on their behalf. I can’t even count the number of pro bono cases he undertook, even when he was struggling financially. I am so disappointed in myself for not being more aggressive in getting our storytelling plan happening. His stories deserve to live on. And i’m sure they will in his family and friends. I know I will be telling them, as I always have, as an example of just how dynamic and fun life can be. That is what he taught me most.
Rest In Peace, Dear One. You made such a difference on this earth. You helped so many, inspired so many more, and taught so much. It was one of the great privileges of my life to have you in it. You are missed.