Posts Tagged With: Glen T Johnston

It Is Cold In His Shadow

Glen Thomas Johnston

September 21, 1932 – March 22, 2011

I have learned that life in the shadow of my father after his death is even more difficult than when he was living.  Most people have idealized their father to the point of being an unrealistic character.  In my case it was real!  My Dad was a character but it the best way – everyone loved him.  I have NEVER heard anyone say ANYTHING bad about my father, where as I do not have to leave the house to find people that will speak ill of me.  My father was not perfect, and even people that did not agree with him still  respected him.  The year since his death, I have learned it will be impossible for me to have a fraction of the respect from family, friends, and community that he had – this frustrates me.

Next week I will begin therapy (AGAIN)!  Even before his death I had issues.  The more I am living at home and in this community, the more I see things I had felt were big accomplishments in my life have been undermined by some.  I miss Dad because he was proud of me and he let me know it.  Our family did not make a big deal about birthdays, they were usually a simple family meal but never a real party.  Now when I graduated from Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), he and Mom threw me a party!  I was the youngest child, but the first to graduate from college.  When I bought my Toyota 4-Runner, he would not have been happier for me if it were a Land Rover.  When I went to work for Sony, most people would, by his account, think I was hired as the President/CEO instead of lowly marketing guy.  When I bought my BMW convertible while living in Las Vegas, I hoped he would be impressed.  Even though he liked the car, what impressed him was the deal I got on it.  His disappointment was that I had bought a BMW that was 2 years old instead of the brand new Toyota Tacoma I had originally planned to buy.  When I moved to Colombia, an Ambassador’s welcome would have been too little in his eyes.  I was the first in the family to have a Passport and to get a stamp in it.  Now all of my family has Passports and stamps – other than Mom and I hope to change that soon.

The last few years have been very tough for me.  I finally had to surrender to my Multiple Sclerosis by taking disability.  This meant I had to say goodbye to Sony, goodbye to my BMW convertible, goodbye to my Las Vegas life and even pretty much all of my independence.  He had been diagnosed with Dementia. I had just moved from Bogota to Medellin, Colombia, when I got a phone call,

“If you want to see your Dad alive again you better get home as fast as you can.” my Mom said.  My sister’s were in Brazil.  We all rushed home as soon as we could.  

I walk in the hospital room where he was setting up, smiling as if nothing had happened and he said, “What are you doing here?  I thought you were in another country.”  

I replied jokingly, “I came home because I thought you were dying!”  

He said with a smile, “Not today!”

What I learned later was that the night I was flying home, he walked out of the hospital and security found him in his pajamas trying to get into his car.  Mom asked him where  was he trying to go.  He said, “To get Tommy.” (Tommy was my childhood nickname).  Even supposedly dying, he was thinking he needed to come get me.

My Dad not only loved me, he respected me.  He knew how much I struggled to get through college.  He occasionally would help me out with some money, but he knew how I worked to support myself and pay for my education.  I told him years later that I did not want him to leave me anything in his will because of all the help he gave me in college.  But even what I consider to be a grand gesture has been reduced to, “Thomas don’t want anything because his Dad paid for him to party at Ole Miss all those years.”  He is not here to set the record straight and stand up for me and say Thomas deserves respect because his finishing college was quite an accomplishment.  Even though he would have loved for me to have lived closer, he encouraged my dreams that required I live away.

I have given up any hope that people will have the same respect for me that my father had.  My own family can’t even muster simple respect for me and it hurts me, makes me angry, and helps fuel my desire to live away from here.  It is easier to leave and just start somewhere fresh.  People I worked with and customers at Sony had a great deal of respect for me (other that a bitch – I’ll just use her first name – Renee).  Friends that are from all over the world encourage me with my writing – even though it makes me no money, it makes me happy – and my family knows little or nothing of my writing.  My life of wanting and trying to have my family respect me fatigues me more than my MS.  I have severed my relationship with one of my nieces because of her blatant  DISrespect.

A year ago I had to say good bye to my father – and the to the respect he so easily gave me.  I miss my father!  He was ALWAYS in my corner.  Now I just find I am fighting with myself – and I am losing!  He and I did not agree on politics or religion, but he still respect me even though I aggravated him with discussion of these topics.   Maybe the therapist will help me get on a more positive path even with myself.  As RuPaul says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”  Maybe I have to learn to love myself in spite of how family and friend view me.  I will always be in his shadow and it disappoints me that I will never be half the man he was – even through my own eyes.

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Stories of Glen

March 22, 2012 is the 1 year anniversary of the death of my father, Glen Thomas Johnston.  I am working on a blog post for that day and hope I get it done.  I also came up with the idea that I would request people than knew my father to e-mail me any stories or memories they may have and on each anniversary I will post any of the new stories I received.   Even if you want to recount a story you heard from me or someone else…. anything “Glen” you want to share!

Please send any stories, memories or ideas you have for remembering Glen to: glenjohnstonproject@aol.com

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No One Wants to Write Their Father’s Obituary!

My family called on me to write my father’s obituary this week!  What a hard thing it was to do, but I did it, here are the results of the most difficult thing I have ever had to write!  I’ve also added a very small photo tribute!

Glen Thomas Johnston died Tuesday, March 22, 2011, after a lengthy battle with Asbestosis and complications of multiple strokes at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, MS.  He was 78 years old.  Relatives and friends are invited to attend a visitation on Thursday, March 24, 2011, 5:00 – 8:00pm at Johnston Chapel United Methodist Church, 2093 Chapel Drive, Summit, Mississippi 39666, which will continue on Friday, March 25, 2011 from 10:00am until a service of Christian Burial at 11:00 am also at Johnston Chapel UMC with Rev. Glen Martin and Rev. Allen Dearing officiating.  Interment will follow the service at Johnston Chapel UMC cemetery with Rev. Richard Boone officiating.

Yes, that is my Dad as a child in a flower sack dress, like most kids (boy or girl) wore back during the depression.

Glen was born in Summit, MS to Benjamin (Benny) Thomas and Eula Williams Johnston.  He was the 10th of 12 children.  In 1951, he graduated from Johnston Consolidated School in Johnston Station, MS, where in 7th grade he was a varsity starter, he was a two-time all-state all-star player and two-time member of the Johnston Station State Champion basketball team.  Following graduation, he was the first freshman to start as a varsity basketball player in the South Eastern Conference at Mississippi State University.  Starkville was too far away from family and he returned to finish his Associate of Arts degree at Southwest Mississippi Junior College.  During the Korean War he served as Staff Sergeant and was based at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.  While playing baseball for the Army, he attracted attention from and he was asked to play professional baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals, but in that day, the pay was not enough and he passed on that opportunity.

Trace & Shelby selling some, if not the last Black Diamond Watermelons Dad grew.

He began his professional career as a barber in Summit before working at the Summit Post Office until retiring 30 years later.   He then began working in home construction, commuting to Jackson, MS.  His joy other than friends and family included hunting and attending grandkids sporting events.  His growing of Black Diamond watermelons and breeding high quality rabbit hunting beagles, made him well known in southern Mississippi and Louisiana.  He coached several baseball and basketball teams in Summit, Brookhaven and McComb including several state championships.

Glen was a lifetime member of Johnston Chapel United Methodist Church in Summit, MS, where he served as Lay Leader and Administrative Board Chairman for several years as well as other leadership roles in the church.  It was once said, he was a Christian man who loved the Lord and his church.

Dad & Mom's Wedding Photo August 31, 1956

He is survived by his wife of 54 years Eleanor Matthews Johnston, a daughter Glenda and son-in-law Michael Richard, a daughter Darlene Johnston, all of Summit, and a son Thomas A. Johnston of Medellin, Colombia, South America. His grandchildren are Tara Abdul-Hadi of New Orleans, LA, Trace Abdul-Hadi and fiancée Bethany Emfinger of Hattiesburg, and Shelby Abdul-Hadi of Summit.  He is also survived by siblings Floyd Johnston, Geraldine Reed,  Erma Stockton, Bryant Johnston, Jewel Johnston and Lemelia Boone and numerous in-laws, nephews, nieces, cousins and friends, all of whom he cherished.  He is preceded in death by his parents, siblings Flora Freeman, Clyde Johnston, Eva Kenna, Elwin Johnston, and Lois Johnston. Pallbearers will be Trace Abdul-Hadi, Tim McDaniel, Scott McDaniel, Jonathan McDaniel, Ted

All In The Family!

Lofton, Kelvin Boone, Ken Boone and Lamar Melton.  Honorary pallbearers are Monette Moak and the Albert Freeman Sunday School Class.

Memorial donations can be made to the Memorial Garden Fund or Gym Renovation at Johnston Chapel United Methodist Church.  Alternately, in recognition of his generous nature, random acts of kindness for family, friends and strangers are encouraged. The family joins him in expressing thanks and gratitude to all that supported him through his health battles including Dr. Ruth Fredericks, the staff at St. Dominic’s in Jackson, the membership of Johnston Chapel United Methodist Church and the friends too numerous to list who kept him in prayer.


 

 


Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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