08 Mar 2022

On a Departed Friend


My great friend John slipped away today. His departure leaves an aching void that will not soon be salved, much less filled. It, and he, will never be forgotten.

In the days leading up we only had reports about him on a web service that provides such updates, and his devoted and exceptional Pearl of 5+ decades kept us informed. He entered hospice, lost his mobility, the meds dulled the pain and his joy de vivre, of course, disappeared. He said he was ready to go.

An insightful (paraphrased) line from the funeral scene in the movie Belfast rings with divine clarity. “Do not mourn his passing, celebrate that he was in your life and you had the joy of knowing him.”


We knew when we arrived in Arizona each January, John would be on the lookout for our car to pull in. He would peek around the corner, and when he saw us he would hustle over and give us both huge hugs, handshakes and “Glad you finally made it!” We’d gather that evening for some celebratory tippling and to catch up. The dogs would be all over all of us and each other — it was a merry time.

We would tee it up a couple of days later and have many laughs over our flubs, missed putts and worm-burners. We brought cellophane packets of saltines to feed the ducks and turtles on the front nine water hazard. Then it would be off to lunch and more catching up.

John’s robust embrace of life was invigorating. He was enthusiastic about almost everything. He loved Pearl’s preserves, raspberry jam, homemade cookies, mowing his vast expanse of lawn on his sit down mower, even cleaning up the boat they lived on in summer months on Sister Bay. He obtained a scooter that he tooled around on grinning all the while at the convenience and the fun he was having.

A true gentleman — his strength of character was enhanced by his essential gentility. He was always respectful, but held firm in his values. John had an innate goodness and curiosity about him. He met fellow residents easily, chatting about their dogs and his Bailey, about the HOA and community issues. Always eager to learn, John never imposed or overstepped. He was a respectful soul.

One morning I scored gratis green fees to the premier golf club nearby. It had an exceptional range and practice facilities and the course was immaculate. Though he was quite successful, he was a man with zero pretense. “I’d never think of paying what they want for fees here,” he told me. We enjoyed the round and when we walked off he said, “Boy! That was one for the books!”

On his 5 AM walks with Pearl and the dog, he carried a golf ball retriever to fish errant shots out of the cacti and scrub, only to give them away to me, to his other golf buddies in the community and whoever he perceived needed some.

It was this simple style and grace that was so striking about John. One could not help but be uplifted and feel his enthusiasm and kind spirit take you over.

Now we weep, knowing there will be no more such moments to treasure. Their condominium has been dark since we arrived. We have not played golf this year. The thought of a twosome instead of a foursome is too painful.

On this life journey, we know loss will be experienced along with pain, deception, disappointment and a host of other adversities. Outweighing all of those negatives across a whole lifetime is the joy of having this man and his family in my life, in our lives. It is not possible to convey the depth of this loss. Humanity has lost one of our best. A whole man in every sense of the word.

I will miss you every day and I look forward to our next adventure together. I love you, John…

4 Responses to On a Departed Friend
  1. Comment *such a fine tribute………..

  2. Comment * What a lovely tribute Jack. So sorry for your loss. Good friends are truly hard to find. He sounds like he was a great friend & lovely guy.


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