As we travel down this road, we often just slip by others who we never have a chance, for whatever reasons, to get to know. It could be that person is of a different generation or a different religion or you just are in a different place as you pass them by, even if that different place overlaps for a time. How many do you look back upon and wish you had a chance to talk with them one more time. I don't mean sit and shoot the bull, but learn about and from them. What was their history, what makes that person who he/she was?
I lost one of those persons this past week as he passed away at age 88. He was older, in roughly the same generation as my parents. I met him on occasion but mostly I knew him from afar. His name is John Brown.
Now, Mr. Brown had a hold on me nearly from the start. He was one of those people you just say "there's something about him." He was tall and handsome and obviously took good care of himself. I remember him as having large hands and never once from any of my encounters with him did I ever see him without a smile on his face. He had a pleasant demeanor with always a kind word.
I learned several things from his obituary, one being his employment which explains his rather dapper appearance. He worked in customer service and sales which often takes a fairly thick skin. All the more wonder for his continual smile. He had a 'bearing' about him you don't see in most. I also discovered he was a retired Sergeant Major of the US Army. That position says much about anyone who holds it. It is respected by both enlisted and officer. When a Sergeant Major speaks, privates and generals alike listen.
Over the years I began to understand it took a tremendous person to impress my Sainted Mother. I do believe she was slightly infatuated with Mr. Brown. He exuded class and grace. In her last year he would stop in to see her. They may pray together or simply sit and talk. She died of cancer but in her last few months she always looked forward to his visits. He came under the guise of coming from the church but I think it was more than that. They were friends who shared a history of being the same age, living through the same turbulent times and sharing a love of their God. But, he was that type of fellow.
As I have grown older there are few I have run the same path with for a time that I would wish I could go back and have a conversation with. Often you hear the question posed, if you could talk to anyone in the world for thirty minutes, who would it be? Sadly for me, John Brown would be on my short list and now I will never have the opportunity back that I didn't take in life.