Let me get right to the point: I’m only 19, so I’d be lying if I said I know a lot of people who have died. There’s both of my grandfathers, my uncle, some great aunts/uncles I barely knew, a high school teacher…But recently, I’ve been hit with a triple death whammy.
There was my studio director, whom I blogged about a while back. That one still stings. I find myself thinking about her quite often.
There was my neighbor, and I admit, I barely knew him. I guess him dying around the same time as my studio director (and having his funeral on the same day) is why I find him on my mind from time to time. I know his grandchildren well; I’ve gone to school with all of them and worked with his grandson.
That, however, is beside the point today.
Let me tell you about a man named John, or, as I knew him, JP.
JP worked with my mom at one of her former jobs. What he did, I have no idea. I don’t even know what my mom did. They met in 1991, I was born in 1997.
Long after JP retired and my mother moved onto another job, JP stayed in her life. He was a nice guy; a classic, tall old man who wore sweaters pretty much every time I saw him. Over the past few years, I had been joining my mother on her outings with JP, be it going out to breakfast or grocery shopping or just hanging out with him, I started tagging along when I was about fourteen. JP had no wife or children, so my mom would hang out with him.
JP was funny. He had this charisma about him that you don’t see in a lot of people nowadays. For example, one time when we were out to breakfast, JP looked at the food I had on my plate, looked up at me, and said “You eat like a linebacker.” Now, granted, most people would be offended by that. I thought it was hilarious. You can’t help but laugh when a 90-something year old man tells you that you eat like a linebacker. Frankly, I took it as a compliment.
Over the past few years, JP’s health had been slipping. He couldn’t hear well anymore, and he was forgetful. One time, my mother and I went to the senior apartments where JP lived to go to breakfast with him, and he was still in bed-he had forgotten we were coming and slept in. I would ask him how old he was, and he wouldn’t know. I would ask what year he was born, he wouldn’t remember. He would think his long-deceased sisters and parents had moved away and were avoiding him: “They moved up north. That’s where they put ya when ya get old.”
I guess you get the gist that JP died.
We hadn’t seen him for a while; things have been pretty crazy these past few months. My mom mentioned him a few times, but we never really had the time to set up a breakfast date with him again.
Tonight, my mom called me on her way home from work, and mentioned she hadn’t seen JP in a while. I knew his health was deteriorating rapidly, and he was old (92 years, to be exact). I don’t know what possessed me to say “Maybe he died.”
My mom was silent for a minute. JP didn’t have his own house anymore-he had sold it a few years back and moved into one of those senior living apartment things. Since we weren’t family members, if something happened to him, we wouldn’t be alerted of it. Then, my mom said, “Google it.”
With my mom still on the phone, I typed JP’s full name into Google, along with the city we live in to narrow the search.
JP died on Sunday. It’s Wednesday now. He was 92 years old.
Had my mom not mentioned him on her way home from work, we never would have known. My mom would have tried to call him later next week, and lord knows what would have happened then.
JP’s funeral is on Friday, and I plan on going. JP knew that I’m transferring schools, and I leave in a week from today. I wonder, if he had been of sound mind towards the end, what he would have said to me. I wonder what he would have said when I told him I made the Dean’s List for Fall 2016 at my current college.
I’ll talk to you ASAP, squadlings. Wish me luck.
Rest in Peace, JP. June 17th, 1924-January 8th, 2017