Saturday, January 24, 2009

Knowing Johnny...



Dad came home from the store and said that he saw someone he knew in bad shape while he was out. I asked him about it but he told me to mind my own business. So I leave the room, still being able to hear the conversation he was having with my mother. He tells her that someone he knew was coming out of the store with a bag of dog food. His friend proceeds to say, "I dont know whose going to get more of this, me or the dog." I sit in disbelief of what my father was saying. A person eating dog food? WHAT?! After being sneaky and nosey at the same time I come to find out that my dad knew this man's mother. She had gotten sick and passed away 10 years ago. Her son took it very hard because he was the one taking care of her. With no one else in his family left he began drinking, lost jobs, and was on the verge of losing the house he once shared with his cancer stricken mother.

A week or so went by and it seemed as though my mother and I both had forgotten about the friend my father had mentioned. As we sit in the living room, watching Entertainment Tonight my father walks into the house. We hear another man's voice as well. He steps into the living room and annonces himself along with his friend. The man had on a long black coat that had turned grey from dirt and lots of ware. His shoulder length blond hair was covered by a hat, and his big toe, only covered by grey socks poked out of the front of his torn shoe. His eyebrows were long enough to cover over his eyelids like a Yorkshire Terrier. His name was Johnny and I was a bad ass kid who wanted to crack on him as soon as I laid eyes on him. But as my mother warmly greeted him and thanked him for coming over, it hit me. I knew this was the friend my father was talking about. It was almost dinner time and I figured Johnny would be joining us.

We sat down for dinner. There was a little bit of an awkward silence as we began eating but of course I had to start asking questions. I had never been around anyone like Johnny before. I didnt know how he would act. The only words I heard him speak were "hello" and "thank you." When asking him questions I heard myself asking them slowly, partly because I didnt know what to ask and also because I didn't know if he would understand me. I could tell Johnny was older. Maybe mid 60's to maybe early 70's. I come to find out that he was a cook in the army when he was younger. He served in WWII. He was very intelligent also. Went to school and studied some sort of English Literature but he didn't like it. He loved to cook. He was never married, didnt have any kids but he did have a dog named Chloe.

Johnny became a fimilar face around the house. He didnt have a car but my father would pick him up 3 to 4 times a week so he could eat dinner with us. On the nights he didnt join us for dinner we would take over a plate to his house. My mother convinced Johnny to start going to AA meetings and even bought him a bus pass, just incase we weren't able to take him. And he went. Atleast 5 times a week. When you attend AA meetings you recieve a coin for every month that you're sober. Johnny would give his coins to my little sisters. By this time he had gotten his hair cut AND his eyebrows trimmed and he looked like a new man.

Christmas eve of 05 came around and Johnny was celebrating with my family. We invited him as a guest but he insisted that he wouldn't come unless we let him help cook. My mother definitely didnt dispute that, she was more than happy to accept any help she could get around the kitchen. I remember sitting in the dinning room watching them cook and Johnny comes up to me and says, "what's wrong with you when your nose runs and your feet smell?" Me not knowing the answer replies, "what?" "Well then your built upside down." I rolled my eyes and gave a fake laugh but he was cracking up, along with my little sisters. He should have directed the joke at them instead of me. Maybe then I would have laughed.

Around May of 06, Johnny decided to sell his house and move into an apartment. He had gotten a job as a cook at a local restaurant and he figured with the money he got there and money he got from selling the house he could live a little better in a smaller place. We helped Johnny move in and everything was going great. He would call us all the time, even stop over for dinner. He never stopped telling us how grateful he was for helping him turn his life around. He actually called us his angels.

One night in late May I was sitting in the dinning room talking on the phone. Johnny calls in and I see it on the caller ID but I ignore the call and continue on with my conversation. 10:30 pm rolls around, I had school the next day so I start getting ready for bed. My mother walks into my room at 1:30 am and tells me Johnny had died from a heartattack and his landlord found him in his apartment. All I kept thinking about was me ignoring his call earlier in the night. I felt horrible. Maybe he was calling to ask my dad for a ride to the hospital because he was having chest pains, maybe he was on the floor unable to move just calling for someone to come help him and I ignored the call. I missed school the next day and also the day of his funeral. I felt like it was my fault. I felt like Johnny had done all this work to make his life better and then this happens and his second shot at living life and being responsible and independent was over and it was all my fault.

The visitors at the funeral home consisted of my entire family and some local people that knew Johnny and his mother when she was alive. Johnny had an aunt and a cousin that actually came to the funeral as well. They gave Johnny's flag to his aunt, she then got up out of her chair and handed the flag to my father. She said he had done more for Johnny in one year than she had done in her whole life.

Meeting and knowing Johnny changed my life. Not in a big or monumental way but it changed the way I see people. The whole saying "don't judge a book by its cover" really kicked in. It showed me how outgoing and caring my parents are to people in need and I hope to one day be able to change someone's life for the better. I know Johnny didn't have any regrets and that the last year of his life was a good one. I just only wish I had answered his call.

2 comments:

asia kismet said...

heavy...hind sight can be a bitch sometimes.

Sighfur said...

Its not your fault. Life, and death is designed by destiny, it was his time to go, so the heavens accepted. You innocently did something with no ill intentions, your decision is not the reason. Answered or not, that call couldn't deny Fate. God put you in his life so you can help change, even groom him for Angel-Hood. It was his time.