I have a checklist of all the things Lomax and I need to do before he goes in for training. One thing we were able to check off is "lunch with John."
John has been a friend of mine for several years. I met him at church and have since come to know, through spending time with him at the nearby restaurant where he eats lunch twice a week (John's lunch plans should be added to the "death and taxes" list as the measure of a sure thing), what a blessing he is.
He can always cheer me up and put things in perspective when I'm having a hard day. The thing is, he doesn't know he's doing it. He'll start by making a joke -- usually a bad pun or a literal take on some phrase I just said, the kind of joke a small child might tell. I can usually see those coming, from the look that crosses his face just before. Or he might say, proudly, that his next-door neighbors have asked him to take care of their cats while they're on vacation. Then, if it's hot outside, he might relive far-off memories about going swimming once a week with the other kids from the "special school" he attended when he was growing up. Then he'll tell me about the detective story he's writing -- he's particularly inspired by re-runs of Matlock. An afternoon with John can make time stop, at least for me. Sometimes I'll sit there with him for three hours, and still be reluctant to leave.
When I told John I was going to be a puppy raiser for GDA (mind you, it was nearly three years between my decision and the actual "getting a puppy" part), his whole face...it was indescribable. I don't think anyone else in my life was quite as excited. And every time I saw him during that nearly three years, he'd ask me when I was getting the puppy. And what kind of puppy I wanted. And what the puppy would look like. And what I was going to name the puppy. And what I'd feed the puppy. And what I'd teach the puppy. And if I'd bring the puppy to visit him, so he could hug the puppy.
Of course, we knew just where to find him on this "last visit with John before turn-in." He was even at his usual table.
No one is more confident than John that Lomax will go on to live a life of service. I explained that Lomax has to "go to college" first...John laughed, and looked at Lomax, and told him to study hard and not drink too much.
We may have to figure out a way to have one more "last visit" with John.