Our beautiful friend John Edward Knowles passed away last week. We lost him to a massive heart attack that came like a thief in the night on January 16, 2012. We were all incredulous. John got up extra early several times a week to go swim laps. He was the picture of health.
I can remember having margaritas and hanging out by the pool with John in our backyard on Sunday afternoons as far back as the late 1980s. Wow. That means that we probably knew Mr. Knowles for about 25 years. That’s a long time, and yet, way too short a time.
John was a handsome, generous, talented man who had many, many friends. He clearly loved life and loved people and loved to have a good time. My own most vivid memories of John seem to be party-related. We would see each other at various get-togethers and talk and laugh. And whenever and wherever you were with John, you always felt as if you were conspiring with him. I think it was his devilish grin and seductive giggle that made you feel as if you were in cahoots with a cute and mischievous young man.
Here’s something: Just today, as I was cruising through facebook land, I came upon a link posted by my friend Elizabeth Castelli. It was a link to her friend Ann Neumann’s blog, otherspoon. This is an exerpt from today’s post:
[As] a hospice volunteer, I spend a lot of time with old people. Dying people. Beyond the discomfort, beyond the anger at terminal illnesses, the greatest cause of emotional upset is often what you and I would call regrets. The estranged daughter, the books never read--or written, the years, now collapsed by hindsight, spent working when they could have been spent with friends or family. The chances not taken, the patterns not broken, the cities never seen, the old feuds left festering. Again and again I hear patients remark with wonder and shock that the years have passed them by too quickly. "In my head I'm still 35," one 80 year old friend told me. "How did I get to be this old?" a patient has asked. "Be careful," she said, "the years go by too quickly to count."
I would like to think that John Knowles had few - if any - regrets. My own impression is that John lived and loved his very full life. He worked hard and he played hard. He made people look beautiful and, more importantly, he made people feel beautiful. He spent time doing the things he truly loved with the people he truly loved. There are priceless lessons for all of us in John’s life and in his death.
Tell those special people in your life that you love them and appreciate them for who they are. Get out and enjoy the opportunities that you’re given every day. Smile more. Laugh more. And get your affairs in order. Fix things that need to be fixed - so that the broken hearts you leave behind won’t have to worry about the legal and financial issues that inevitably come when someone dies. Find an attorney that knows something about probate law and take care of things like your power of attorney, your living trust, your will. If nothing else, write down your wishes and have it notarized. It’s a to-do list of chores that are absolutely no fun. But those loved ones left behind will know how much you cared.