Monday, April 3, 2017

Kelvin Thomas Johnson - Funeral - Talk by Richard Johnson


STORY A - INTRO / Back Ground
Kelvin was born in the 1930’s.  Which means he was a child in the depression of the 1930’s.  He was about 13 when the atom bomb was dropped.  A different world.  He grew up in a house of two rooms with a big family.  One of those rooms was the bedroom.  He married Arta Pilling at 30 and began his journey of 8 WONDERFUL children.

On His Love
Language, Poetry, Church, Family, Teaching
Kelvin Johnson had many loves.  

He Loved Poetry.  On the last day of winter, cancer finally took him.  We had a party on that day.  We celebrated his life as my father lay in his temple best.  We grieved as a family openly and deeply.  As we all rose the morning after we awoke to the first day of spring.  A time of life, birth, and chance in this world.  There is poetry in the ending of that life.  Kelvin loved poetry so I think he would have appreciated that the last breath of winter and his last breath went in unison.  A poetic ending.

He Loved \the \church.  Until his body would no longer endure the travel to and from the chapel Kelvin was in attendance.  

The Church Loved Him.  He received visits from members even while living in his apartment at Seton Care facility.   In his last hours he received the laying on of hands by Brother Clark Schow.  A blessing that gave comfort and joy to Kelvin as he passed from this world.

To me what he Loved most was family.  He worried, vocally and often about his sister an brother who lived in the same care facility.  You see, They all lived in Seton together, Sharon two rooms away and grant a short walk and elevator ride.  If you wanted to visit with Kelvin the conversation would always turn to is “Sharon well taken care of, is Grant doing alright”  Until his last moments he cared deeply about the well being of family and in fact all loved ones.  He would never hesitate to give what he had.

He also love teaching.  He taught thousands of students at his time working for the Calgary Board of Education.  

STORY B - Living two lives - Deja Vu

Kelvin was the father, and I was the son.  As a professional educator, he taught thousands of Calgary Board of Education students and even U of C PHD students.  At the dinner table over my homework I dug my heels in and metaphorically stuck my fingers in my ears.  I was not going to let him teach me.  

I have married my loving partner.  I have my own children.  Now I am the father.  I see my childhood through my children's eyes.  They struggle, they are frightened, or ashamed.  They also dig heels in and ignore when I try to teach them….  Sometimes.

As a father, I see that those were my struggles, fears, that was my shame and I was obstinate.  I am living all those beautiful childhood experiences again through my WONDERFUL children.

Perspective changes our view of the landscape.  A new point on the mountain comes with completely new scenery.

I see my life being relived through my children and I wonder, did my father watch and re-live his childhood through me?  In silence did Kelvin struggle and fear with me.  Was he ashamed and did Kelvin dig his heels in when his father taught him in the 1930’s?

STORY C - Wonderful

Wonderful. My father’s speech, his words, left him in the last weeks.  On our second last visit he could still whisper but the final word… WONDERFUL.  It was the last word.   You see my brother had written Kelvin a note.  My brother wrote him a heartfelt note full of feelings, love, joy, gratitude.  Things like saying thank you for life, thank you for birth, thank you for a chance in this world.  It was recited by my mother into his ear because his hearing had long since began to wane.  After hearing these kind words orated by my mother he whispered WONDERFUL.  A whisper could not have been so booming and thunderous.  And Kelvin was right.

A heartfelt message crafted and filled with love and intention.  It was a gift well received for Kelvin in his last days.

What does wonderful mean?  

Maybe a daughter has performed her practiced dances at the recital, Wonderful
or a son has spoken those freshly memorized poems at a Kiwanis festival.  Wonderful

Maybe it is the first turns of a bicycle pedal or the first miles steering a motor vehicle.  The first winning layup, or the walk across the stage to receive their graduation papers.  Wonderful.  

Or his child marrying a loving partner, Wonderful

Or maybe grand children doing all of this over again.  I will always thank my father for reminding me what is wonderful, and that this is truly a wonderful life.


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