John Page could make my Dad laugh. I mean really laugh. You know the type of laugh that comes from deep inside your belly? That’s the kind of laughter I’m talking about. When the two of them got together the beer would flow. Stories were told and new memories created.
That’s the two of them pictured – John to the left, my Dad to the right – smiles bright and faces flush from a night full of laughter and wine.
They met in the first grade and grew up together in Belvidere, Illinois – friends for almost 60 years. John served in the Air Force during Vietnam, my Dad in the Army. Although they were separated at times they never lost touch. After my Dad moved our family to Arizona in 1977 John would bring his family here from Illinois to visit us. Likewise, my Dad would take me, my Mom and brother back to Illinois every summer to visit our relatives – and of course, the Page family.
John’s oldest son, Brian and I are the same age. And like our Dads we have also been lifetime friends. Growing up not a summer went by that Brian and I didn’t see each other. I remember one year in particular. We had been up all night screwing around like teenagers do. John wondered why we had slept in so late. Brian and I gave him a less than honest answer and John quickly replied “you can’t snow the snowman!”
John was the life of the party and he had the funniest lines – so many in fact that his daughter, Jennifer, began compiling a list of them a few years ago. If he was a guest at my home and I didn’t offer him a cocktail promptly I could be sure to hear “it’s dryer than a Baptist picnic around here!”
That’s why it breaks my heart to be writing about John in the past tense. On January 22nd, 2011 he died after an eight month battle with esophageal cancer. Not a day has gone by since that I don’t think about, and pray, for him and his family.
John was a loving husband to his wife Mary. He was a proud father of Brian, Andy, and Jennifer. He was a doting grandfather to Wyatt. And he was one of my Dad’s closest friends. I’m blessed to have known John and his family all these years.
John’s passing has helped me focus on what’s important; creating memories with family and friends. He’s even helped me out with my real estate business. These days when someone presents me with a less than honest evaluation of a property I like to say “you can’t snow the snowman!”
At his memorial service a few weeks ago I spoke with one of John’s neighbors. She told me that she was in the happy hour club with John. She then paused for a moment and said, “Actually John WAS the happy hour club!”
I can’t help thinking that things must have been getting a little dull in Heaven. John was needed to get the ultimate happy hour started. I bet he even used one of his famous lines when he got there, “let’s party like rock stars!”