A Memorial for John

(A eulogy written in 1999 for a cousin who passed away, and when I couldn’t attend the service.)

By: Allan Wallace

I wish that I could be with you today but circumstances conspired against it. This kind of memorial would have seemed strange to me just a few years ago, but becomes more common as more of our generation pass on.

John is not the first of our generation to pass beyond this life and he won’t be the last because all of us will make that passage someday. And I believe that we will be surprised by some of the people who will be there to greet us on the other side when our passage is complete.

John wasn’t perfect, none of us are. And he had his share of faults and eccentricities. But those of us who had no desire to walk a mile in his army boots cut him some slack on this account. His service in Viet Nam left him with scars, but he survived. That is, until the last few years when the damage done during that war started ruining his health.

In my estimation John was a good man. He did the best he could with the hand he was dealt in life. And that is all that anyone can reasonably ask.

There is a difference between good intentions and trying to do good. There are people who have all the good intentions in the world, but put no effort into making those intentions a reality. When any of us strive to do good, most of us miss the mark most of the time, but that’s alright, because the virtue is in the honest effort. The reason it is a virtue is that if we keep on trying, we will sometimes succeed.

John put forth that effort; he tried to do good and he wanted more than anything to become a contributing member of our family and win our respect. When John and Trena first moved back to Tennessee, John was a stranger in a strange land because he had never experienced anything like our family. You’ll have to admit, we take some getting used to! But he eventually started to understand us and love our family as much as we do.

John won my respect. He was always loving and supportive of me. And never failed to give me a hug and invite me into his and Trena’s home. I know it sounds like a cliche, but if he thought I needed a shirt, he would have given me the one off of his own back. John sometimes expressed his feelings in ways that seemed odd to us, but that doesn’t change the fact that he had a good heart. And I believe that this is what decides our ultimate fate. For God’s love is far greater than all of our sin and shortcomings.

I honestly believe that when it is my time to leave this life behind, I’m going to be greeted on the other shore by my loved ones that have gone on before… Granny Wallace will be there; Mamaw and Papaw Redmon will be there; my Uncles Gale, J.B., and Eugene will be there; Roland will be there too; and John will be there reaching out for a hug with a smile on his face and saying, “Hey, Big Guy.”

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