I don’t necessarily believe the title of this blog but it’s a phrase I have heard often. I know a lot of people who have lived to be very old that were wonderful. Today is the 23rd anniversary of my Father’s death. Although he has been gone over two decades, I can still hear his voice in my head and I hope that never changes. He was a great example of how to be a good person. He was good to Mama, me and Travis, his own Mama and Deddy, his brothers, Mema Cameron and the rest of his family and friends. He was only 48 when he died and it seems like his death was a few years ago in some ways, but it seems like a lifetime ago at the same time.
Last week, John Patterson passed away from a year-long battle with liver cancer. To everyone, John was truly a good person in his own right. He will be missed by his family, friends and coworkers alike. The outpouring of support for his family, the wonderful memories that were shared, and the acknowledgment of his accomplishments throughout his life were all indicative of what a great person he really was. I was honored to be asked to be a pallbearer. I’ve been asked a few times in my life to be a pallbearer and it’s honestly a very humbling experience. Standing around and talking with the other pallbearers reminded me of how much John was loved and respected.
The fact that he was so young certainly made the funeral sad. However, it wasn’t as sad as I expected. Not because he won’t be missed. Not because his family, coworkers, church and the world in general doesn’t need him. It was because you sat there and realized how much life he packed into 48 years. He was an accomplished athlete. He excelled at football in high school and in college he was a star on the track and field team. His buddy Moose said he could throw the “hammer” like it was a golf club. He told a story of going to a competition one time when John was at NC State. His main competitor for that year wound up, spun around 3 hard times and let the hammer fly. When John took his turn, he spun ONE time and threw the hammer way beyond his competitor. Moose asked him afterwards, “Why didn’t you spin 3 times like the other guy?” John said, “I didn’t have to.” He was the “Most Outstanding Player” for the NC State track and field team in 1997 and won the ACC Championship, setting an ACC record that stood for 2 years. I’ve known John for over 22 years and he never mentioned that one time. You know why? He didn’t have to.
John was a smart guy and he was the KING of trivia. He knew more random facts than anyone I ever met. We had the same sarcastic sense of humor and some of the texts he sent me were honestly some of the funniest things I’ve ever read in my life. He worked with Farm Credit for over 25 years and was very well respected among his co-workers. I don’t know how many co-workers came to the funeral, but it’s safe to say it seemed like it was everyone that John had ever worked with.
John was completely devoted to his family and friends. Him and Georgia Lee were married 20 years and dated several years before that. He loved Georgia Lee and she was by his side from the beginning until the very end. Someone said to me last week…. ”I’m going to tell you what, Georgia Lee is tough as nails.” You damn right she is. John loved being a father and loved Leah Grace with all his heart. He always referred to her as his “mini me” and he got that right. He had a great relationship with his father, mother and sister. He was always fun to be around at any family event. You could count on John to say something funny. And although he was often pointing out the obvious, the way he would say things would be hysterical. I had the utmost respect for John Patterson. And to honor him, I did something I have never done in my entire. I wore an NC State tie to his funeral. I’ve never worn ANYTHING NC State in my entire life!!! And if you are reading this and are a Dook fan, don’t get any ideas. My hypocrisy only goes so far.
John found out last fall that he had liver cancer. Deddy found out in the fall of 1999 that he had liver cancer. John went through several efforts of treatment for as long as it showed some progress. Deddy did the same thing. John stood up the day he passed away. Deddy was walking around the day before he passed away. John and Deddy both lived about a year with cancer and both died at 48. Georgia Lee probably doesn’t know this, but she is the same age as my mother, 46, when Deddy passed away. There were so many similarities that I had to make an effort to keep it together emotionally when I was around John. To the very end, both of them lived life to the fullest, enjoyed family and friends and were faithful to their Lord and Savior. I still miss Deddy every day. And I’m going to miss John. I’m not sure why people like them have to die so young. But a short life, well-lived is a lot better than a long life, wasted. John and Deddy got all they could out of life….and they will both always be missed by everyone that loved them.
2 Timothy 4:7,8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.