Babies are born. Men and women die. Happens every day. Once in a while, it happens to those we care about and the whole process we know as life gets a little more personal.
Claude Johnson, a man many people know in this community and a topic of this column once or thrice, passed away recently. He’ll be celebrated with a service this week and many great things will be said about him.
Deservedly so.
Look, there’s no secret here. Claude was a friend. I’ve said so in this space. He even shared his story with you when he found out his time with this mortal coil was limited.
So today won’t be a maudlin reflection on the life of a man lost too soon. Instead, let’s focus on what it is we’re losing as the Claude Johnsons of the world pass on.
Bigger than life personalities.
There wasn’t an ounce of political correctness in that man or his mustache. If Claude thought something, he said it. If he saw a pretty girl, he told her how nice she looked. If he thought you were being a jerk, it’s a pretty safe bet he’d let you know that, too, or worse, he just wouldn’t care enough to say anything.
Claude, and men and women like him, don’t hold back much. It’s not that your feelings aren’t important. Far from it. It’s just that they are blessed with common sense and don’t own an overwhelming fear of offending someone. Where the rest of us hold back because we see example after example after example of the littlest things being blown out of proportion, Claude and his peers look at it differently.
“Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke,” or something like that, he said way more than once.
It’s a shame more of us aren’t like that.
Folks with those bigger-than-life personalities usually have bigger-than-life hearts. Claude’s many good deeds with Rotary, spearheading donations of firetrucks, his work with veterans, pushing free little libraries and so much more has been well-documented. He might see or read something he thinks is good and the next thing you know he’s trying to find a way to make it happen right here in his city.
But this world is a funny place. Just when we need them most, the Claude Johnsons are getting older and passing on. It surely doesn’t appear there are younger versions lining up to take their places.
Oh no, don’t get the wrong idea. There are plenty of folks who do good. Plenty who care deeply about their communities, who volunteer, who help others. But the ones with those bigger-than-life personalities, the ones who say what’s on their mind – and get away with it because most everyone understands what they’re really saying . . . those folks aren’t plentiful in this politically-correct-everyone-gets-a-trophy world.
It’s a shame. And while I don’t pretend to know this for a fact, I suspect Claude might miss that the most of all.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at