Author: Compton, Cliff

Leaving a mark addendum

My last column was about leaving a mark on the people you meet in this old world and what kind of mark that was. I received many wonderful responses to that on the message board and also in my personal email. I wanted to share a very odd incident that is related to that column. Iím still trying to wrap my mind around it.

I sell for a living, and had a customer, who over time had become a friend, (his name is Jim Stovall) who was promoted out of the position that caused me to call on him. But for some strange reason I ran into him five days after publication of the column. We got in a circuitous conversation about whatever, and somehow ended up with him telling me about his best friend Jerry Johnston. I was listening politely when he said something that jarred me, and frankly set the hairs on the back of my neck crawling upward. He told me this man had died a couple of years ago at a bluegrass festival where he was setting up the canopy of his R.V. when he had a heart attack and fell off the ladder and died.

This is the part of my last column that was published Dec. 5th.

I remember pumping on the heart of a picker at Plymouth who had a heart attack and died. And I remember looking down at his face and thinking that I didnít know him, and what a shame that was. Here I am trying to save his life, and I didnít know him. And his mark on me only came through his death. My guess is that he was good man. He left a lovely wife and a lot of memories. But I didnít know him.

After the publication of this column, Nancy Zuniga wrote in the message board, that she was camped next to this gentlemen and that his name was Jerry.

I asked Jim where his friend had died. It was at Plymouth at the fairgrounds.
This man that I didnít know, whose life I had tried to save turned out to be the best friend of a man who, through business, had become a friend of mine. Jerry Johnston and his wife Peggy had grown up in the Ruch Community outside of Jacksonville Oregon, right down the road from where my wife Trudy, and her family had lived for years, on the old family homestead, and I was wrong about one thing, he was a grinner, not a picker.

I sat in wonder as we discussed this strange series of coincidents, and Iíve been thinking about it ever since. Particularly the fact that this column, about an incident from several years ago, had just been published a few days before I ran into Jim. I sent him to the C.B.A. website, he read the article, and sent me an email. Thanking me for trying to save his friend.

And I got to thinking about this. You donít really know what mark you are leaving or who you are affecting as you go about the business of your daily life. You just try to do whatís right. Hope for the best, and maybe someday when the concentric circles that your little pebble left when it was dropped into the ocean finally fade into the calm waters on the banks of the Jordan. Maybe weíll be able to make sense of it all.
Posted:  12/12/2008

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