Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eulogy: Jack David Johnson

Sorry for the delay Sis, I'm getting pretty weary working and going to school. So here's what I wrote for Jack to share with others:

Jack David Johnson
06/09/1924 ~ 09/02/2010

We are gathered here today to remember and honor the life of Jack David Johnson. He was born in Los Angeles California on the 9th of June in 1924. His parents were Albert and Myrtle Johnson. Some time early in his life they moved to Barstow, California where he attended elementary grade school and he later moved to Riverside California to attend Jr. high and High school, graduating from Poly High School. He had taken ROTC in school and enlisted in the Army soon after graduating.

He served in the Army Infantry Division from 1943 ~ 1958 at Prince Rupert, Canada, Fort Ord, CA, in Germany, Japan and Korea. I can remember him telling me that while on guard duty, he had a cigarette shot out of his mouth by a sniper and that was his LAST cigarette. I also remember him trying to smoke a pipe for awhile but he just couldn’t keep it lit and probably got tired of smoking matches so he quit that too, much to Mom’s delight. Jack had been released from the Army on a medical discharge.

Jack worked at Riverside Produce Company for his Uncle Eddie between military duty and after discharge until he and Mom moved north to Yuba City where he purchased Lucky Star Produce, a one-man operation at the time. He started with one employee and with his personal attention to the customer’s needs and preferences he soon outgrew the building and purchased the property across the street, an old Drive-in restaurant, and remodeled it. Eventually the business grew to 14 employees and prospered until he retired and sold the business and property, the business only lasted a couple weeks without Jack’s personal attention.

Mom and Jack met at the Moose Lodge in Riverside, CA in 1961 and married in 1962. I can remember talk of Jack adopting us kids but it didn’t happen. Heck, our last names were the same anyway. Sometime around 1963 or ’64 we moved from the Sycamore St. house in Riverside to Mildred Ct. in Arlington, CA. He had cleared out the garage giving everything to Grandpa Miller, who loved to harass Jack every time he needed to borrow a tool or use some hardware. Grandpa would say something like this: "Jack, if I had let you throw that away you’d be at the hardware store buying it now." "Yeah, I know", Jack would say.

By the time we lived in Arlington we had made a habit of camping every weekend. On Saturday, Jack would alternately take one of us kids to work with him and the ones that stayed home would pack up after chores and be ready to go when he got home. We camped at places like Dark Canyon, Black Mountain, Borego Springs, Joshua Tree National Monument, Yucca Valley and Calico in Barstow. We eventually found a weekend home at Woodchuck where we would set up a trailer and work on terracing and personalizing the site, ending up on the top of the hill. We had such a rich life with the activities we would dream up and the fellowship with our extended families. Probably my favorite camping excursions were in the deserts, out in the middle of nowhere even without the comforts of primitive campsites. Several campers and trailers set up around a campfire pit like a wagon train. All us kids would take off after breakfast with packed lunches and water and be back by dinner. We had excursions and adventures unheard of today. Clear skies and campfires! The best food! Awesome company! I don’t remember a weekend at home with Jack in our family. He always had someplace to take us on weekends. Even when the weather was nasty, Woodchuck was there and we were never bored.

When we kids grew up and moved out, camping gave way to occasional trips in motor homes and became infrequent when he owned the business. How could his customers survive without him if they ran out of tomatoes or lettuce? He would still take trips north, south or to the east coast sharing some trips with family members. Zigzagging the continent several times.

Now keep in mind, Jack was a single man when he married Mom. All of a sudden he had 3 kids. He attempted several tactics to discipline us. I remember a gig system, which didn’t last long. I think he’d loose count between Ted and I. I remember chores, allowances and fines. Sometimes Ted and I would owe him by the end of the week. I remember restrictions and one of Jack’s favorite stories of how he knew when I screwed up. He’d find my TV unplugged in the hall and me in my room. I’d save him the trouble and restrict myself. Some times the punishments were severe and seemed to be unwarranted. But when we needed extra cash, he’d create a job for us to earn it. His intentions were to raise us to know the value of a dollar and that we had to work to earn it, to be honest and be truthful, to respect other people and things. And not be prejudiced. Bottom line? However dysfunctional his methods were, he succeeded! I was blessed to be able to tell him so while he was alive. It went something like this: Jack, when I was a teenager I wished you were dead and caused you a lot of grief... But now I acknowledge what your intentions were… I remember it brought a tear to his eyes.

Then there was the candy! At Smart & Final, if there was an open case of candy they threw it out. He talked them into throwing it in a box and saving it for him. So all us kids, cousins and neighbor kids knew he had candy. Thus he earned the title “ The Candy Man.” Ted even surprised Jack by putting it on the front of his motor home.

And there were the freeway clothes. If he saw a bag on the freeway, he’d drive out of the way to circle and pick it up. All you cousins probably remember the freeway clothes.

Christmas was always a favorite of Jack’s. He would be worse than us kids about waiting until morning. We’d open just one on Christmas Eve. Well, sometimes just one more… well… sometimes we’d save just one for the morning.

Jack loved Grandpa and Grandma Miller. After they moved to Meridian CA, Mom and Jack would make trips to visit them. Then when Mom and Jack moved to Yuba City, they’d visit and often include them on their trips. Jack and Grandma had a unique relationship. Jack would pester Grandma until she would be ready to box his ears off and she’d chew him out. And it was a regular thing. That’s how Jack and Grandma loved each other.

I remember as a child that Jack was very nervous. He had been diagnosed as schizophrenic in his discharge from the army. I also remember him receiving medication from the base for a while. Then, when camping with our uncles and other men, he began to self medicate with beer and did so for 40 years until he suffered congestive heart failure in 2000. He would wait until a certain time before drinking and limit him self to how many he drank but it took its toll on his body. When the Doctor told him if he continued to drink he’d die, He decided to quit and never had another one. Jack had amazing will power if he chose to apply it. When the Dr. told him he would be able to have an occasional beer, Jack said “Why?”

June 24th this year Jack hadn’t been feeling well and a severe migraine headache drove him to the Emergency room and after finding his red platelet count dangerously low due to a bleeding ulcer, they admitted him into Rideout Hospital in Marysville. This stay lasted 9 days while they stabilized his blood count and treated him for infections a couple times. He was released from the hospital on July 3rd and admitted into the Fountains Skilled Nursing Facility in Yuba City. Here they struggled to get him to eat and exercise enough to strengthen him before he could go home. Gaining some ground and suffering several setbacks he never gained enough strength to be stable on his feet. The Doctor sent him to the Emergency room at Rideout again on September 2nd when he was passing blood in his urine and complaining of great discomfort. The Doctors there found his kidneys shutting down, his lungs were filling with fluid and he had another infection. They had consulted with Mom and gave him morphine to calm and comfort him. Soon after as he was finally relaxing his heart gave out while he was sleeping.

Jack was not a religious man. He wasn’t in the habit of attending church. But he had read the Bible and seemed to enjoy when we said Grace at his table. During his stay at the Fountains he requested prayer from me and appreciated my prayers. Jack’s character reflected his response to the Holy Spirit in his honesty, respectfulness and child like humor among other traits. Now I’m not trying to paint a portrait of a saint or you’d be saying Jack who? But the positive traits I’ve seen in Jack’s character proves that the Holy Spirit had not given up on him. The Bible teaches me that there is no good thing in me. If you see good in me you’ve seen Christ in me. So on that note, I’ve seen Christ in Jack more than a few times.

Jack’s survivors include his wife of 48 years, Glenndyn Johnson; stepchildren Lorraine Bailey, Ted Johnson, Gene Johnson and their families; and a nephew Tracy Kirkpatrick and his family. He was preceded in death by his parents Albert and Myrtle Johnson; sisters Marjorie Johnson and Shirley Kirkpatrick; and a nephew Dan Kirkpatrick.

I’d like to speak about the condition of death and clear up some of the confusion about it. The Bible compares death to sleep over 50 times.

In John 11:11-14 Jesus states:
11. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
12. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

1 Thessolonians 4:15-18 talks about the end when Jesus comes the dead are asleep:
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Genesis 2:7 tells the origin of man:
7. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul

Ecclesiastes 12:7 tells the end of man:
7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Then Job 27:3 explains the Spirit as God’s breath of life or His power:
3. All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;

Psalms 146:3,4 tells our condition when the breath or Spirit returns to God:
3. Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
4. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

And Psalms 115:17,
17. The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.

Psalms 6:5,
5. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

Ecclesiastes 9:5,
5. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing,

Acts 2:34. At the time of the apostles even Kind David had not ascended yet:
34. For David is not ascended into the heavens:

2 Timothy 4:7,8. The apostle Paul waited for the coming of Jesus to collect his reward:
7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Revelation 22:12. When Jesus comes His reward of eternal life is with Him:
12. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

So we do not have a soul, we are the combination of a body and the breath of life from God to become a living soul.
We do not have an eternal soul since eternal life is a gift, a reward that Jesus brings with Him at His second coming.
When we die, we sleep. We aren’t aware of anything going on in this world. Our next conscious moment is when Jesus Christ calls us from the grave at the resurrection.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18,
13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

We’ll take a few moments to let anyone else speak who’d like to.


Uncle Doyle handed out flowers at the beginning of this service. Any one who’d like to leave the flower with a prayer, blessing or symbolically a part of your heart with Jack, feel welcome to.

Chaplain Gene Johnson, Sept 24, 2010

From Anakerie:
Thank you, Gene.. I knew you'd get it put here so the rest of the cousins who weren't able to make it up to the service can read it.  You did a wonderful job doing the eulogy for our Stepdad.

To the readers of the blog: 
I was one of the ones who got up to speak about my Stepdad. Only there wasn't much I could add to what my brother wrote and spoke of.  Except, Jack's love of animals.  He and Mom only allowed us kids to have one pet, long ago. A big orange tabby named Chico.  It was too hard on the pet when we went on our many camping trips, so when Chico passed on to the rainbow bridge, there were no more pets. Jack still enjoyed animals, though.  So, he would adopt all the neighbor's pets.  The dog next door.  The cat from across the street.  Jack kept a big jar of dog treats in the garage along side a container of cat food. He had his routine every day.  He'd take a couple dog treats to the dog next door and make sure the cat's dish in his garage was full of kibble.  When Jack went outside to do little garden chores, the cat was right there with him.  When Jack walked out to the mailbox to get the mail, the cat would jump up on the seat of Jack's walker and go along for the ride. The dog next door no doubt misses his daily treats and the cat still comes over and waits for Jack to come out of the house to give him his ride to the mailbox.  In honor of Jack's love of animals, my daughter and I placed some small stuffed cats in the vault with Jack's cremains, and there are 2 cats sitting on the headstone to watch over him.

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