25 May 2016


Jack was a consolation, as was Jackie, which preceded it for a time.  Each a nod to his mother's side of the family, the Jacksons.

He was Jack every day of his life.

But John Ellis was his given name, as it is, at least in part, mine as well.  Eldest sons on his side of our family have bounced around in naming between Percy and John, Ellis and Taylor, for many a generation.

Like all good dads, he was full of stories.  And lessons.  Patience.  And advice.

He died yesterday.  Peacefully.  In my mother's arms, his wife of 52 years.  It was beautiful.  And so sad.  The way a death should be, I suppose.

And he had everything ready.  The bills.  The insurance invoices.  The bank statements.  All of it.  We weren't surprised by this, as we looked through his desk.  But we shook our heads and smiled,

"Somehow, he knew."

"He had to have known."

It was like him not to have said a word.

I'm going to miss him terribly.  His stories.  His advice.

His dirty Saturday T-shirts.  His well-worn, deeply imprinted backyard flip-flops.  The scent of his cologne.  His Brylcreemed hair. The way he said, "John," whenever he got on the phone with me.  How he always seemed so genuinely pleased to spend any amount of time with my wife and, most especially, our daughter.  His compulsion to talk to his dog.  The way he never really needed to be with anyone other than my mom.  How he mourned forever the loss of his old Corvette.  The way he would perseverate over the clarity of the water in his pool.  And speak broken farm-hand Spanish to the crew who cut his grass. Or select just the right song for a given context, and sing with great accuracy every word of the lyric.

Wise men say...

I aspire to be a dad such as he was, and hope to be remembered by my own kid when my time comes to shuffle off, with the same sort of sincere affection and abiding, poured-out sense of loss that I feel for him.

He said to me, in a private moment during his recent hospitalization, "You know, John, my story may not be ending the way any of us would like it to.  But don't forget, it's a happy ending, nevertheless."


Here's to happy endings, Pop.


Janelle Reasor said...

simply beautiful!

Emily Petrie said...

John. That is beautiful and sad, as it should be.

Christine said...

You were one of the few who got to call him Dad. That's no small thing. Lucky you.

Jake Bacon said...

John Coe I want you to write my Eugoogly when the black lung finally gets me. Your father lives on in you. Not as a cliche, or a platitude but in the reality that you are already what you aspire to be in terms of a father, a husband and a son. I have such a clear image of your dad nudging St. Peter at the pearly gates and saying quietly, "look at him!". Grief is the bitter price of love. I am sorry that you will grieve so hard in the coming days, months and years but am so so very glad that you earned that grief with a love so precious.
I need to spend some quality time getting sloppy drunk with you hearing stories about your father. Unlike Reasor I wansn't blessed to have met him but look forward to getting to know him through your stories.
I am deeply sorry for your loss my friend but again I am glad that the grief is sharp, for it was well earned.

stephmoto said...

What a beautiful glimpse into your dad's life and what an incredible impression he has left on and your family. Thank you for sharing such a touching history. Loosing a parent does not get any easier, as we age. My deepest, heartfelt thoughts to you, Lisa, Bekah and your extended family.

Courtney Ludwig said...

Beautiful words for a father from his son. Jack raised a great son. Bekah is lucky to have you as her dad.

jgrantflag said...

And with words, we rein in our thoughts. We corral them, even the unruly ones, and round them up into a space where they can live on, captured for anyone who approaches the fence to experience them. Memories, images, emotions, now imprinted within the words, are three-dimensional and full of color. And the legacy of a life is preserved. For Jack, you have made this gift.

Unknown said...

Prayers for all

Anonymous said...


Kristie said...

We love your family so much and I wish I didn't know how it feels to lose a parent, but I do and our families prayers will be with yours and especially your mom! Love you!

Unknown said...

Beautiful John! Sounds like an incredible dad and role model. Sending hugs to you and yours.

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