Tuesday, March 23, 2010

John ...

Oh, how I love this man.

We met on the phone. I interviewed him for a story for the Chicago Tribune, a piece about men, and open-heart surgery, and depression.

John was the least-depressed person I could have talked to for that piece.

He loved life. He loved bacon. He loved to tell stories. And he loved to lend a hand.

I sent out a note, two weeks back, asking friends and family for their help in my search for a job.

John replied, "Just out of hospital but will get on this right away."

I shook my head and typed back, "No, no, no, wait a second there, mister! What's up with you being in the hospital?!"

His heart. His larger-than-life, filled-to-overflowing heart was ailing. It had been ailing, a condition he'd known about since he was a young man.

And tonight, he passed away.

That first day, on the phone, we talked for the story for 45 minutes. And then we talked for 45 minutes more.

He was fascinating, bursting with stories of New York and Hollywood. He lived the life of "Mad Men." For a time.

But he was so much more.

A veteran of World War II. An artist. A husband. A father. Very nearly my father, and very much my friend.

We always met in the same spot in Rockefeller Center. John loved New York. And from there, we would walk, slowly, toward food.

Always food. John loved food. I do not have many photographs of us, but all of them are in, or in front of, restaurants.

Like this one, taken in the Oyster Bar in Grand Central the last time we were together in New York. I was there with my parents. I am so glad they had the chance to know him, too.

There is so, so, so much more to say. But those words will have to wait for another time.

Tonight, I extend my love to all who love him, who had the good fortune to be touched, however briefly but forever, by a gentle force of nature.


Blogger Doreen said...

Awwwww jeeeeze Beth - I am sorry. I know how much he meant to you and I am sorry you did not get to see him ... but you can dedicate your first tv show to him. Big hugs ... and kleenexes. (kleenexi ?? )

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Matthew M. F. Miller said...

What a beautiful tribute, Beth. You can tell how much character he had just in his face. We're sending you love today and every day.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, Do. I am quite sure that whatever good happens with the show moving forward will be John making things happen, wherever he is. He always wanted me to be like Nigella Lawson.

And thank you, Matt. Love very much received.

And right back to both of you.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Peter Fuller said...

Please know, Beth, that my thoughts and prayers are with your friend, John, his family and you. I did not know the man but from your writing, I wish I had known him. The photo of you two at the Oyster Bar is made even better because I can tell by the paneling that you are in the barroom.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thank you, Peter.

Indeed, that's where we were.

I wish you could have known him, too. The two of you would have gotten along famously.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I am so sorry, Beth. John sounds like he was a truly great man.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

You have lost too many friends, it seems. This was a lovely tribute. My condolences.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thank you, Terry. He truly was.

And thank you, too, Alison. We all have loss, of course, but yes, two truly important people in my life have gone in the past year.

But I was so fortunate to have them in my life, and continue to be grateful for all the wonderful friends and family around me. All present company included, of course.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute to my father, Beth. I am John's oldest daughter, Lisa. Dad spoke of you often, and I know he valued your friendship. We will miss him very much, but he was fortunate to have so many people who loved him!

- Lisa McCullough Burns

10:22 AM  

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