I am on the plane flying back to CA from Charlotte where this weekend we held a memorial service for my dad John Smith, aka Johnny Buck.
Last night neither my mother nor I could sleep. We ended up in her living room just chatting and chatting about everything. We determined that the name Johnny Buck came from one of their friends who we knew in the 70s – Bud and Pam Kedziera.
We talked about everything last night. We talked about John. We talked about our family members who attended. We talked about her future plans. We talked about my children.
She told me that she received very nice feedback from the comments Ric and I made at Johnny Buck’s memorial service. I am including my remarks, as written, below.
To live – To learn – To love – To leave a legacy
One of my favorite authors shared these universal goals of life with me. I share them today because I think they embody how I think about my father John.
John was full of life and vigor when I first met him. I remember the day when I was 7 or 8 and he knocked on our apartment doors in Hatboro, PA. He was there to take my mother out on a date. I didn’t really understand what dating was, but I remember being excited for my mother. When I opened the door, I saw a man with long and scraggly hair. He looked kind of groovy and young.
One of my favorite early memories was in those same apartments. John was over for a visit. He was very jovial. I am not sure how the topic of bicycles came up, but somehow my brother and I were talking about bicycles and John pulled out his wallet and took out all the cash from it and tossed it in the air to Ric and I. It was several million dollars I am certain. I remember us gathering up all the money and starting to walk to the bicycle shop. Unfortunately, I cannot remember whether or not we actually spent the money. (I sure hope we did!)
It was obvious when you met John that he was a smart cookie. He had an engineer’s brain and an engineer’s mouth. I always admired how smart he was and knew I wanted to be smart like him. He had an infectious appetite for knowledge and for being right, which he was most of the time.
Love comes in many forms. All of us express love in our own ways. One of the best ways John expressed love to me, was through the counsel he gave. John had the ability to be objective, fair, and honest. He could love you dearly and also help you expose your own bad thinking, choices, and actions. It was not malicious; it was deliciously honest. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always feel that way at the time, but I knew he was speaking from truth and wisdom. I imagine he did that for many people in his life.
TO LEAVE A LEGACY
Matt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
The fruits of life are simply the legacy that you impart and leave long beyond your existence on this mortal coil.
I am sure those of us here today, could each speak, in some way, to the impact that John has had in their lives or in the lives of others.
For me, his impact is deeply and firmly woven into the fabric of who I am. If you were to remove the thread of John’s impact from my being, I would wither and fall to the floor. I am compelled to share but a few of the threads that make up this man before you.
Here are a few things, that are key to me, that are clearly rooted in John:
Love of Math
Telling it like it is
Humor and sarcasm
Music – opera, classical, John Prince, Nanci Griffith
I named one of my sons, Stensen BUCK after his nick name
No one in this room knew John like my angelic mother. She knew very well of his fruits…and she loved him. She also knew of his flaws…and she loved him. Over 40 years of love resides in her heart. No matter what, she loved him.
Just like John and Irene accepted and loved each other, even with awareness of one another’s flaws, so it is with our Father in Heaven. No matter what we do, he will not love us any more or any less. Plain and simple. His love is perfect for us.
I am grateful to a God in Heaven and his love for me. And today, I am grateful for a father here on this earth, who took two gnarly boys and an amazing woman on a most wonderful life journey, that does not end today, but continues just a bit differently without John here in person.
However, we will get to play bridge, talk about books, listen to amazing music, and watch football again with John. I most look forward to kicking his a$$ at tennis, something I was never able to do on earth.
I am going to conclude with a few lyrics from a Brad Paisley song that I shared with John a few years ago.
FROM BRAD PAISLEY
I met the man I call my dad when I was 9 years old.
He took my mom out to the movie, and for once I got to go.
A few months later, I remember lying there in bed.
I overheard him pop the question,
And I prayed that she’d say yes
And then all of a sudden, oh it seemed so strange to me.
How we went from something’s missing to a family.
Looking back all I can say about all the things he did for me,
Is that I hope I’m at least half the dad he didn’t have to be
Yeah, I hope I’m at least half the dad he didn’t have to be
Because he didn’t have to be.
I love you Johnny Buck.
We did not get a lot of pix of family and visitors, but here are a few.