Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Remembering John

August 25, 1978 to February 9, 2010

What do you do when you find out that your brother is dead? How do you get rid of the sadness, the anger, and the guilt? How do you cope knowing his endless laughter is silenced on this earth and that his smiles and hugs will brighten no more days? I'm not sure... I saved every message he left on my phone while he was in Iraq, but when John returned at New Years, safe on American soil, I erased every last one. All I want is to hear his voice and for him to hold me and tell me it will be ok, but because I can't, I am going to share what I remember and love about him... and maybe that will help. So read on if you wish... it may be long and it may be more for me than anyone else. If you knew him and loved him like I do, we can remember together.

1. Walking me to Leslie Brown's house My mom was out running errands for longer than expected and I had been invited to Leslie's. But as a 3rd or 4th grader it seemed way too far to walk and I wasn't allowed to cross Greenway Rd. I was so sad, so John volunteered to carry me. He took me on piggy back all the way there, which is amazing because I was nearly his same size, but he wouldn't give up or put me down. That is the essence of John, always carrying others burdens no matter how much they weighed.
2. High school together John, Becky, & I drove to high school together when John was a senior and I, a lowly freshman. He never teased me or treated me like one though. He was in charge of driving. I can clearly picture us in his huge ugly boat of a car with no working windshield wipers, it's pouring outside and John has his head out of the window driving down busy streets trying to get us there on time. One day in high school the white kids decided to have a riot and beat up all the Mexican kids at school. John was in the heart of the battle, not fighting but saving Mexicans, one by one. He fought like a lion pulling kids to safety, trying to save as many as he could. I was so proud of him that day. I was also proud of him when somehow he managed to get on the intercom and ask Kristi Kay to Prom or homecoming with the whole school listening... I thought, "That's MY Brother!"
3. The Rollerskating Accident John was amazing on roller skates from a very young age, but I was not. I was such a scaredy-cat compared to him. I took 2 baseball bats from the closet and used them as poles to stabilize and ensure I didn't fall down on the roller skates. There I was skating around the culdesac like a dork with my bats, as John flew past me on his skates. We were standing in front of the Booses' house when I stuck my bat out to catch myself, just as John passed by, launching him into a huge cactus prickly pear bush. My mom had to pull all the big barbs out one by one... but he never got mad at me or blamed it on me.
4. $5 for the 7/11 John went on his mission to Sydney, Australia. While he was gone, he sent me a stack of envelopes of letters to distribute to all the people he had ever wronged or hurt. Each letter included an apology note I assume. I passed them out to the few people, but when I got a note that said 7/11, I was stumped. In the envelope there was a 5 dollar bill and a note apologizing for stealing a candy bar when he was young. I brought it to our 7/11 and the cashier looked at me and asked if I was serious. I said yes and he said he couldn't take it because his till would be off. I said "Take it then. Consider it a tip from my brother John."
5. Bake-sale flop I was twelve and I made cookies for our Girls Camp fundraiser in front of Wal-Mart. I prided myself on baking great cookies for John and all his friends, but on this day I'm not sure what went wrong. All I know is they weren't edible, let alone marketable. I was crying in the kitchen and John came in. He suggested we buy some or make some new ones and he would take me late to the sale. I'm not sure which we did, but all I remember is I sold a lot of cookies.
6. Dancing John was a great dancer. We all had so much fun at Saturday night dances... he probably more than me because not only did he dance, he kissed too! He was never too busy to dance with me if I wanted. I wasn't so great, but with him leading he could make me look and feel great.
7. Hip in the Wall John loved to wrestle. One day John was wrestling in the hall with one of his friends when his hip/bum went through the wall, creating a huge hole. I was shocked and told him mom was going to be so mad. John ran and grabbed his big senior picture and hung it on the wall right over the whole. My mom came home and asked why he moved his senior picture to the hallway at waist level. John said he felt neglected with it being in his room, and felt this was a more public place to showcase it. When my mom eventually insisted on raising it higher, she laughed at his creativity in covering up his mistake.
8. Borrowing his clothes I remember in junior high when no fear shirts and flannels were cool I would always borrow Johns clothes... not just shirts but jeans too. Embarrassingly we were the exact same size. He never got mad or complained, but I finally stopped when Chance Mikos called me "Little John". Oh, well... at least he was always well dressed and good looking, not such a slap in the face other than the fact that I am a girl.
9. Sand Sculptures on the Beach John was very creative and wouldn't just do the regular old sand castle. When John makes something, it is going to be awesome! On vacations he made the most amazing dolphins and turtles out of sand. He'd spend hours on them, long after the rest of us had given up, he was still working hard. I was always jealous of how good they were.
10. Threatening Boys John has threatened boys in my behalf for over a decade. When we both were attending BYU he nearly beat up a boy that would come by all the time and look in the girls windows in our complex. Lets just say the boy never dared peep in windows again. When James asked to marry me he talked to John and John threatened to kill him over 10 times if he ever hurt me. Sometimes he was a little over the top, but he truly protected his sisters!
11. White Soccer Shorts at Swim Lessons We all took swim lessons together... unfortunately I stayed in the beginners kick board class for years while my older siblings became advanced and eventually on swim team. One day John came directly from his soccer practice to swim lesson without his suit but figured he could wear his soccer shorts. He quickly learned that short little white soccer shorts become completely see through when wet. We laughed about that for ages.
12. Helping me with Student Teaching John and Kristi were living in Provo going to school while I was finishing student teaching. I had a huge lesson on fashion through the decades and John helped me for hours... till late into the night finding pictures and printing overheads. He was willing to help me no matter what time of day or night it was.
13. "Brothers Don't Shake Hands, Brothers Hug" I had a little crush on a boy named Toby when I was a sophomore in college. We had hung out and maybe gone on a date, but we were mostly just friends. I invited him to go to general conference with me because my family had tickets. John and Phillip and my parents met us on temple square. I prayed John would play it cool and not embarrass me somehow. As Toby and I walked up to get our tickets, John raced over picked Toby off the ground in a huge hug, and yelled, "Brothers don't shake hands, brothers hug." Then Phillip and John linked arms around his shoulders and started to do the can can.
14. Christmas When we were little, John would try to stay awake and catch Santa year after year. One year the tree toppled on top of him and cut him up with glass... when he was older he worked in Alaska and at Wilson's leather, so he had more money than any of us and would buy the best gifts for all of us, not just the name he drew. My favorite gift he gave me was a framed picture of me, my mom, my Grandma Larson, and my Grandma Carlson all in a row all at the same age in the pictures. It was beautiful and so well cropped and photo-shopped.
15. Shaving John's head John experienced a few wild years finding who he was and who he wanted to hang out with. During this time, He grew a tall, bleach-blond Mohawk. Every morning before school his freshman year, he asked me to shave the back of his head with a razor. So I did. My mom said he could. "It's just hair and he'll grow out of it" and he did...
16. Jumping the Tennis Net... Almost One day my dad got a phone call from John. He needed us to come pick him up and take him to the hospital. Like I said before, he was so talented on rollerblades (at The Wedge he could jump tables and trash cans) But at Charles Wilcox house he had tried to jump their tennis net. I remember sitting next to him in one of my dads company trucks looking at the huge opening in his chin gushing with blood as he said, "I almost cleared it... I was so close. I just hesitated!" John never feared pain or accidents... he thrived on the adrenaline of it all.
17. "Kathy... I want to tell you something" As we grew older, Becky, John and I all had different rooms. When it was late and I was in bed almost asleep, I would hear John or Becky or both yell down the hall, "Kathy! I have a secret for you!" or "Kathy! Guess what?" I'd get out of bed, run down the hall, and ask what they wanted to tell me. The secret was always, "Can you turn on my fan, get me a glass of water, and turn off my light." They both tricked me almost every night... John always told me I was too gullible. He was right.
18. The Greatest Advice One day after professional development meetings I called John to ask him what he thought we, as teachers could do to help students like John succeed. John was brilliant, but a terrible student in high school. Teachers always asked if I was a Larson like my oldest siblings or a Larson like John. Ouch! What jerks! He always told me he was trying to do me a favor and make teachers expect less of me so I wouldn't have to be so perfect all the time. Ha! John dropped out of high school the month before graduation and got his GED. He hated a lot about public education. When I asked him this question, he thought for a second and said, "You've got to believe they are great and help them to see that. They will become what you believe they are. Don't call on kids that aren't paying attention and ask what you just said. I hated that. It didn't make me want to listen. It made me embarrassed and angry. You should build them up, not push them down. Most importantly you have to give them hope. If they are failing and there is no way left to pass or succeed then of course they'll give up. Just help them have hope." I wish I could have been there to build John up... to hug him and let him know that there was hope.

What I love about my brother, John:
He was one of the kindest people I have ever met. He was funny and silly... We would laugh for hours when we would get together. He and I love sharing stories, one upping each other. I could never stay mad at him for long because he would tickle me or make a silly face or dance or stand on his head or pick my nose... gross I know! He was my protector, my adviser, and my friend. I loved his willingness to serve others and to finish a project 110%. I love how hard he worked. I love how humble he was... never claiming to be perfect but he often claiming to be right. I love how he went out of his way to make people feel important and loved. He learned broken Arabic and would go to the streets speaking to them in their language. The adults would chat with him and the children would swarm around him in mobs. His warm smile could crumble walls of any cultures or races. He was impulsive, creative, daring, and brave. I know that I will see John again and when I do I hope we can pick up from where we left off and tell more stories and laugh some more. I love you John! I miss you!


The Meesh said...

Dearest Kathy, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family.


The McLaws Family said...

I am so, so sorry. He was such a great brother, father and friend and he could always make us laugh. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Love, Brooke

ashley & joe martin said...

Kathy I am so sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Tallona said...


You have me laughing and crying. We'll all miss John. You have all been in my prayers since I heard the news.

All my love,

Zach and Sarah said...

What beautiful memories! I am so glad that you shared them. We sure love you guys and are thinking and praying for the whole Larson clan. Hugs from us. (And squish "MaryCake's" cheeks for us.)

The Cannon Family said...

Kathy - that was a beautiful tribute. I didn't really know your brother, but clearly he was amazing guy. Everyone should have a brother like that! I will keep you and your family in my prayers!

Mindy said...

Kathy ... I know there are no words that are comforting enough at this time. I will pray for the Lord's comfort to be with you and your family. Sure do love ya, girl.

Camille Powell said...

It was great being able to smile and laugh with each story true to the person he is. The boys pray for your family every prayer. We love you guys.

Ziegler 7 said...

Kathy Thanks so much for sharing those great stories of John. Reminded me of some great stories too. We love your family so much we will be thinking of you and praying for your family to have peace and happy remembering of such a great brother, friend, son, uncle, husband, dad.
We love the Larson family!!
James and Myrna

Ricci said...

Dear Kathy,
I am a lost for words right now. I will always remember him.You all were such an inspiration when we were going to church as converts.
I will never forget the day that i got the nerve up to ask him if he would take me to my schools home coming. I know he was very shocked. I am sure he didn,t want to take me. Since he didn't know me very well and probably dating someone else. But he did anyway probably just to please me so he wouldn't hurt my feelings. I will never forget that. He was always very nice to me and everyone. He will be missed.
We love you and your family.

Ricci Hall

Jenni said...

I am so sad and sorry. I am glad that you shared these stories. It was really neat to read. You had my laughing and crying. I also loved the pictures you shared. We love you and are praying for you.



Steph said...

This is a beautiful tribute to John, Kathy. He touched so many people's lives with his good-nature, gentleness, and humor and left a imprint on our souls forever. We'll sure miss you, John.

Dixie said...

Dear Kathy,
Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your brother. It sounds like he was such a perfect brother and a great person! My heart goes out to you at this very difficult time.

Love, Dixie Clegg

Emma and Dan said...

Each story - whether touching or funny - showcased a brother and a sister with a lot of mutual love and respect. You are so blessed to be part of such a wonderfully close family.

I'm very sorry for your loss. Your whole family is in my thoughts and prayers.

Erica said...

Thank you for sharing about your brother, Kathy. Even though I didn't know him, reading about him makes me want to be a better person. I'm praying for you and your family.

Lindsay said...

You know that I love you! I loved reading your tribute to John, I could really picture everything you wrote. I remember loving hearing stories about your brothers and how fun-loving/wild :) they were. You always had the BEST stories. I miss your brother for you (if that makes sense). Sorry that I couldn't talk longer today! I want to come visit you really badly and play like we used to (but now we have daughters so we tire so much easier). Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts, Kath!

Love you


linda said...

I know it's been a while since you wrote this but I just came across your blog through a series of clicks and connections. I used to go church with your family - I was in class with Mary. I haven't lived in Phoenix forever but I did hear about your brother recently. I just want you to know that this is such a beautifully done, well-written, and wonderful tribute post. I couldn't stop reading. I hope that you and your family are doing well. I wish I had more than my sympathy to offer for your loss. Thank you for writing this and sharing all these stories about him!