I had the privilege today to speak at the graveside service of a good, good man. He was well-known and loved in the community of Lake Arrowhead, California. His benevolent work among many of the charities there was remarkable. The entire community mourns for the family. The local Mountain News ran this article about John in last week’s issue: http://www.mountain-news.com/mountain_living/article_2025422c-7e4d-11e3-8bac-001a4bcf887a.html
John Franklin Wood
Graveside Service ~ Riverside National Cemetery
January 20, 2014
We gather, because he would have wanted us to. John would have wanted friends and loved ones to find support in one another. I have no doubt he is as much a part of our gathering as we are. His spirit is among us as we say his name. His very nature is among us as we tell his stories. John will not be gone from us for a long time to come. No one is ever gone until we stop saying their name and stop telling their stories.
With that thought in mind, I’d like to invite Thomas Wood to come and remark on his Dad.
(There will be a Celebration in John’s honor tomorrow in Lake Arrowhead where friends and family can share their own stories of John)
THE MOUNTAIN HAS LOST AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN
. . . and so began the tribute to John Franklin Wood in last week’s edition of the Mountain News.
People are not born exceptional. To become the uncommon person one must view himself as remarkable in a certain way. John was that kind of man. The talents, the world-view, the demanding rhythm of John’s life, began early and built one upon the other throughout his life. From snagging a job with AT&T out of high school, to relocating to Florida alone to await the Draft, to excelling in Boot Camp and being chosen for OCS, to leading the small arms instruction of countless infantrymen during the Korean Conflict, to hitching his future to the vagabond art of the auctioneer, John was no ordinary man.
He is one of the heroes of our society. The kind of man who is counted on to do the right thing. These are the people who have a vision for family and society. They remind us of the mores and relational customs on which a culture is built. He was a person who tirelessly loved and cared for others and the vision of others. He was always happy to jump on someone else’s dream and help them along.
John will not only be missed, but there will be a hole left behind. That’s why I challenge each of you to take his place; in your own way and in your own time. There is a bit of John in each of you. He loved you and lived among you for decades. Find the best of John in you and offer it to others. That is the best gift you can give to him . . . and to so many others who loved him and weep for his passing today.
An untitled poem by Della Doane Mockridge
‘Twas a cold afternoon as the neighbors were gathered
At a farm in the country to hear
As he stood with his cane atop an old wagon,
The chant of an old auctioneer.
As he auctioned his wares, so slow and precisely,
He’d tell of their usefulness yet.
Through perhaps they had served more than one former owner,
Still he worked for the price he could get.
An old rocking chair, the rockers worn flat,
the leather all off from the seat;
Yet, to a mother and sleepy-eyed child,
It still was a precious retreat.
Old kettles and pans, so blackened and worn,
But someone could use them, no doubt,
For out in the crowd were a scattering few
Who before had been going without.
An old cultivator, a wobbly plow,
A hayrake grown rusty with age,
A couple old forks and a battered old hoe,
For “the book” they had written a page.
These various things, to the old auctioneer,
Were but items to auction away;
To get for the owner the best that he could,
Thus completing his task for the day.
But to those who were selling, there wasn’t a chance
That a payment received would compare
With the value of memories held in their hearts
Of the old auctioneer and his wares.
John was the kind of man who “valued the memories held in their hearts.” No auction was ever ordinary to him, no person he ever met was common, and no service he ever provided was ever mundane.
THE MOUNTAIN HAS LOST AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN.
Father, treat us openly and equally today as people who need you so very much as we grieve the death of both a husband, father, grandfather and friend.
We’re not praying through a church, a pastor or a priest. Each one of us is coming to you right now on our own. We want to believe you are listening and will answer our prayer.
Be with Cheryl in the quiet of the night when her mind is filled with questions. Wrap your arms around her and remind her she is not alone.
Let the kids know that you are a Dad too; that your children are loved worldwide and specifically as well. Remind them they can cast their grief on you and you will walk come to their aid.
The grandkids need to be reminded often of granddad. Lord, remind us he watches over them.
The rest of us, Lord; remind us this family needs us today, tomorrow, next month and next year.
Thanks for listening Lord. I believe you’re going to answer these prayers. I also believe each of us feels a bit closer to you for having prayed.