Many words were exchanged in the final days of Pop's life. Some words were light-hearted -- humorous ones from Pop or from us. His grandson, Arthur, said that Pop Pop was driving his blue minivan to Heaven.
And there were deeper words. He shared with me something my wife shared with him, something she heard from a friend:
Picture a cylinder laying on its side. At the top side are dreams. At the bottom side is reality. In the middle is a broken heart. A broken heart can either be shattered or opened up to receive more of God.
Kyle Knell authored a biography about Pop in 2007 and wrote the following:
When asked, "What advice would you give to me?" he told me, "Count your blessings, make good choices, and be mindful of the things and people around you. Set good goals and persevere and don't forget what the Lord is doing for you. Think of what influence you can have on others." Read more of the biography... (title page)
Pop talked a lot about sacrificial living -- how you love people because it becomes part of you in Christ.
On May 10, 2010, Pop called a family meeting at the hospital with my mother, siblings, and me. He said, "We have enjoyed life and you will enjoy life." He said how proud he was of us as Mom snuggled next to him. Then, just as the Old Testament patriarchs did, he looked at each of us and said "Bless you."
And there were the words I wrote down as he spoke out in his sleep that evening:
And when we were all with him later that evening:
And we said that it was okay and that we loved him.
He also said, "I can go with a smile on my face."
The next morning, May 11, 2010, Pop got to see us one last time. Mom, my siblings and I, gathered in around Pop. He opened with, "Well folks, it's been a hoot!" and he smiled. We were able to say our farewells. That evening, Pop rested peacefully with Mom by his side and passed on to wake up in the arms of Jesus.
And there are these words from firstname.lastname@example.org sent May 25, 2010:
Please remember the family of Bill Johnson, the father of Jamie Johnson in your prayers. Rejoice with them that Bill went bounding into Heaven to be welcomed face to face by his Savior, Jesus Christ!! Christ welcomed him home on Tuesday, May 11, 2010. Bill was blessed to have been with his family surrounding him in his last days and with his wife by his side that evening. Although they will miss him tremendously, they all know that along with him they will "Be There" with him one day. To understand the "Be There" quote, I encourage you all to bless yourself by visiting the memorial site that Jamie has set up in memory and honor of his father. http://beacondeacon.com/pop You will truly be blessed.
These are the words of God written down by David, words Pop chose for his service -- the words of Psalm 23 -- a Psalm he led a study on last year:
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Pop's son Neil, daughter-in-law Louise (wife of son Jamie) and daughter Carolyn took notes on Pop's biography for a book The Book of Myself. Here are some of the notes:
In Loving Memory of William H. Johnson by Angie B. Williams: page 1, page 2