This post is dedicated to John T. Clark III, a wonderful man, a respected judge, someone who maintained a loving marriage for 48 years, a man who lovingly adopted and raised two strong sons who now have families of their own. He embodied what we from the Jewish persuasion would call a "mensch". Johnnie was someoneI am proud to have known and loved as my guardian.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, September 15, 1943 Died Centreville, Maryland February 2, 2014 After I hung up the phone from a long distance hypnotherapy call on Groundhog day, I looked down to see the light flashing a voicemail message. It was my guardian's wife, Sally, with news that Johnnie had died around 3:20 in the morning. To those who know me, you must have heard me talking about Johnnie - he was a force in my life and a surrogate father to me, albeit a very young one. (He would have been 11 years old when I was born.) Johnnie gave me away at my wedding and drove to another state to rescue me when I totaled the car that my mother left me in her will. Johnnie and Sally welcomed me into their home every holiday and almost every other weekend when I came home to the Eastern Shore from St. John's College .John Clark III was also a beloved (known as fair but sometimes feared) judge in the Queen Anne's County District Court. His funeral was so packed with people who loved and admired him that the crowd overflowed onto the street.
From the day he took on the job of "legal guardian", I always knew Johnnie was always there for me. And that connection continued to the day he left this earth. Even though I haven't physically been in Johnnie's presence or breathed air in the same room since 2005. Even though he hasn't been able to speak to me in a few years. (His progressing Parkinson's eventually made it impossible for him to talk on the phone.) And even though chronic pain kept me from traveling back to the East Coast to see him in the flesh.
His wife, Sally, I also dearly love, (She was my matron of honor and a part of all the other stuff Johnnie was privy to in my life).
She told me in her message, not to be sad, they had many good years, and he was suffering so much in the end. Sally said she was going to remember all the good times and try to forget the last two years which were hell for him and for her (watching him suffer ). They have had such a rich and full life together - their fullness and love spilled over as they adopted two sons (one is my godson) both grown now with happy families. Their love also embraced two sisters from Spain during their high school years abroad. I never met Carmen and Soledad Berbegal but from hearing about them from Sally and John, I know that they experienced the same love and generosity that I did and were shown the same care and kindnesses that I enjoyed. I am so grateful to Johnnie and Sally that they took me wholeheartedly into their already full lives and always made me feel like one of their own. They included me on yearly car trips to Sally's mom and dad in Memphis, Tennessee where we got bored and lost in the fog just like a regular family does.
Carmen wrote a beautiful letter memorializing Johnnie in which she said, "When I think of you, I imagine your big smile, your curious eyes behind your glasses, your aura of youth, your charming way of walking, your belly, a book in hand, a mug in the other... I admire you so much, your generosity, your personality, charisma, and your big heart. I remember you saying 'Hey girl' when you spoke to me... your sense of humor and sarcasm. John, I cannot thank you and Sally enough for having me in your house and getting to know you.." all that she wrote goes for me too.
The most recent kindness of the Clark family was that they included me in the obituary as one of the survivors - "John T. Clark is survived by his wife, Sally, their sons, David and Johnathan and families, brother Billy, sister Carol, niece Stacey... and Marian Wolfe Dixon of Portland, OR." Me. I love John and Sally like a father and mother, sister and brother, and they have been the best friends that ever could be.
thanks for listening