Often after we lose a loved one we tend to raise them on a pedestal, the difference with me is that I have always had my Uncle on a pedestal. To describe him in several words, he was generous, thoughtful, kind-hearted, proud and the hardest working most resilient man I have known.
My Uncle Johnny passed away on June 14, 2009. He was an extraordinary person and I’d like to share some thoughts about him with you.
Johnny was my Mom’s brother, 6 years younger than she. Not only was he her brother but he was her friend. They knew one another’s virtues, sorrows, triumphs, and purpose in life. My favorite childhood memory of my Uncle was when he drove from Texas to South Dakota with his Irish Setter and her litter of puppies. He was coming to visit us and bring me my first puppy, Charger. I loved my Charger!
My Uncle Johnny was a wonderful man who, loved his family first and foremost, very friendly, outgoing , and loved to meet with friends for coffee . He was also known as a very hard worker and well known for his work ethic- if you have a dream in life you must strive for it and achieve it by working hard. He made a name for himself as a successful businessman in Amarillo. He loved his Kennels, he loved the training, he loved his dogs.
My husband asked me the other day what I thought Uncle Johnny was doing in heaven that day? I thought about it and what I pictured was him sitting with Noah having coffee and asking Noah, “How did you survive 150 days with all those animals and no training?!” We both smiled and knew that could be a true scenario.
Knowing my Uncle Johnny , I have the feeling of knowing what a shepherd was like in the Biblical times. For the biblical Shepherd and my Uncle Johnny both loved their sheep. ( Family and animals) He took care of them, protected them, and met all their needs. He was unselfish in giving of his love and his possessions. He set a golden example for us to follow.
My Uncle Johnny was a great Grandfather. I know Courtney and Scooter love him dearly and will keep his memory alive by telling their children someday what a great grandfather they had. He was an important influence in their lives and will be missed. But I know he is an angel looking down over them and he loved them very much like he loved his daughter and wife. My Uncle had an extremely strong “will to live to see his grandchildren grow up.” But I know my cousin Laura will hold on to her Father’s love and pass it on to her children, that is the greatest gift she can give to her Father now.
I cry because I am going to miss you and I know that is selfish because you are in a better place and happy. You were a truly amazing person in my life and my families and I can’t imagine life without you. I have so many pictures of you doing the things you loved. I will cherish all of them. I found the one where Cooper is hugging you and you are smiling and laughing. I love that picture! My Uncle Johnny had a warm smile and I loved to hear him laugh. I will think about you when my dogs are playing and when Cooper is giving me a hug. I will think about you when I see a horse running free in a field. I will think about you when I am at the Oasis spending a sunny afternoon on the patio. I will think of you often.
He died at home with his wife holding him on the couch with his daughter beside him playing some of his favorite songs on her Ipod and his brothers and sisters all in the living room surrounding him. His wife Starla was telling stories of their favorite moments with him and memories they all would cherish. He was facing the window that looked out to the barn and the corral where their horses Bailey and Adobe reside. What a peaceful and beautiful way to leave this earth to go and be with our Lord. My faith in Jesus Christ is my strength and stronghold.
My Uncle Johnny taught us that letting go is not giving in. Losing him has had a profound effect on those he left behind, sores that won’t heal and memories not yet made. But we all have to move on and hold on to the dear memories we made while he was here. I know he had so many plans and dreams that he never got to experience or finish but the plans our Lord has for him are far more glorious then any of us can imagine. I know he is experiencing so many wonderful things that I can’t even imagine but will someday and I know he will be waiting at those pearly gates for me with his warm smile to show me the way home.
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