Uncle John's Horizons

My family called him Johnny
even after he became a grandfather.
Born in the Great Depression,
he was the fifth child of a country minister.
I think he awoke each day with the thought: "What will I
accomplish today?", wanting
to climb higher, to broaden his horizons,
to become a big man,
to live a life that mattered.

His zeal for achieving this goal
at times would leave us behind:
it was hard to match his energy,
dedication, confidence, and enthusiasm.
He was optimism personified:
challenge was a joy, each day
a playground of new opportunities.
I don't think Uncle John was ever afraid
of the unknown... just of the unplanned.

He didn't have to try
to find joy in his work-
work was joy - it flowed
from his exuberance for life.
Risk was a game, and he knew
how to create wealth, and share it,
helping his family and associates.
He believed that life was more than
earning a living, or accumulating wealth.

He believed
that life is wonder-full,
regardless of one's current emotions:
feelings change, but achievement endures.
He believed that a man could be measured
by the magnitude of his problems,
and the difficulty of the decisions he has to make.
He believed that a measure of one's wealth
is how much he gives away;
that a measure of one's humanity
is how he treats those he meets.

He valued his family, and education,
integrity, courtesy, kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, hospitality, and the community
of those who loved God.
Whenever he traveled or talked
he'd find something to appreciate:
the quality of a suit, a well-mown lawn,
the coolness of a porch. He looked
for goodness in life, and in ice cream,
and was grateful for both.

I think his favorite holiday was Thanksgiving.
He'd come to breakfast with The Plan of the Day
and diligently assign each of us to a team
for the family football game.
Sex or age didn't matter - from 4 to 74 -
if you could walk, you'd play.
and take turns, from youngest to oldest,
sharing what we were most grateful for.

He loved to win
in sports and business. He loved
being fit - physically and mentally.
He was proud of his ability to remember
our birthdays, the names of our spouses,
children and colleges.

He had big dreams, but kept his fears
and discouragements to himself,
perhaps because he was a proud man
...or perhaps because he didn't want to burden
us with his problems: he didn't wallow
in the mire of disappointment.

But his greatest gift wasn't contained
by any of his accomplishments:
he always looked for the good
in those he met - waitress or governor alike
- and found a way, with charm and a direct smile,
to acknowledge and celebrate it.
We mattered, we were important;
we were appreciated for who we were,
what we could do, and what we might achieve.

Uncle John achieved his goal:
he lived a big life, embracing his horizons,
while making each of us
feel so very special.

J.W.A. Buyers was a gift... we'll miss him, and remember with thanksgiving.
                                             Bob Buyers, May 19, 2006