Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In memory of a good family friend - John Fountain

Mom called me today to let me know that our very good friend, John Fountain had passed away. John had been suffering with cancer too.
John was our Bishop in the 80's and that is when my brother, Michael received his mission call. I have many fond memories of John. He was a wonderful person and it is a great feeling to know where he has gone. Free from suffering, he is now with his Father, Fred and indeed his Heavenly Father.
The picture here was taken this past May when I went to England to spend time with my parents.
John is here with Matthew (handsome lad) and Ellie. Isn't she cute? John has two other children, Daniel and Laura. Jane (John's wife) is such a sweet lady and unfortunately has suffered for years with her health. I am just so thankful she has wonderful children who will help bear her up at this time.
What a blessing it has been to know John and on a very personal level too.
Til' we meet again!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I first met Johnny Fountain forty years ago. Whenever I think of him the first word that comes to mind is "BIG." At the time we first met I was seventeen years old, and stood five feet seven inches tall. John was 14 years old, and stood over six feet tall. I looked up to him physically then, but have looked up to him all of those years, in so many ways other than height. He has been a giant among men in so many many ways. He was a great husband, a great father, a great friend, a great neighbour,a great missionary, a great Bishop, and a great human being. This world will be the lesser for his passing.

When I say that I think of the word "BIG" I do not automatically think of his physical stature, although that is big too. I think of his big heart, as he was always one to champion the cause of the underdog. I know that well enough, because he championed my causes often enough. His big heart was always ready to help others, and he did often and willingly.

The last time I met John was at the LDS Church on Holderness Road, and it was a planned visit to allow me to see two dear friends again. Johnny Fountain, and another very special friend, your dad, were both diagnosed with liver cancer, and I was realistic enough to know that both had very slim chances of survival. These are two dear friends that I have loved and admired for several decades, and I didn't want either of them to slip from this earth life without me seeing them, and letting them know of my love, and gratitude for their friendship.

On a Sunday morning in July of this year (2008) I drove up to Hull. When I saw John Fountain I was surprised to see that he looked well, although a little tired. I walked towards him with my right hand outstretched to shake his hand. He brushed it away, pulled me right in and hugged me. As he did so, he said, "We go way too far back to shake hands, Tongey. Give me a hug." Where I grew up, and in the era I was born in, men didn't hug other men, but John and I are beyond that. There are times it IS right for one man to hug another man, and this was one of those times. As we hugged, he simply said, "I love you Alan, and have always been proud of how far you have come in the Church. I always knew you were here for the long-haul." My response was to tell him, unashamedly, that I kove him too. There was no awkwardness in this greeting. We have been friends for many years, and have passed through the Refiner's Fire in the Mission Field. We both knew he was dying, and we both wanted the other know that we will be forever friends. His compliment was heartfelt, and meant the world to me.

The Mission field was a special experience for us, along with another special friend, Neilson Forsberg. We were all East Hull lads through and through, and although we were sent to different Missions, our friendship grew across the miles, rather than diminishing with distance. We shared experiences by audio tape, and I used to love to tease John about his Utah/Irish/Hull accent. Typically, he took it in great spirit. (You can see that he was a big man always.)

I moved away from Hull in 1976, but my heart never moved. Hull will always be home. I will miss John greatly. Even though I don't get there often nowadays, I always look for my friends when I am there, and it will be hard knowing he will not be there. The one thing I have learned over the years, though, is that friendships do not need to be close at hand to be close. It's not the geography, but the feelings of the heart that matter. Not the miles, but the smiles.

A great poet, James Barrie, said, "God gave us memory so that we can have red roses in December." Johnny Fountain shared and gave "bouquets" beyond number to those of us fortunate enough to count him as a friend.

That we will meet again is beyond question. In forty years of service I have learned that Jesus is the Christ, and that he has promised us all everlasting life. I know He keeps His promises, and that John and I will meet again. We will meet with a hug again, and will tell each other that we have misssed the other, and that we love each other. Until then, John, old buddy, HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!!