Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Goodbye Jonathan

June 18, 1982 – September 1, 2011

Nine of us stood there at dusk on Sunday at the intersection of Baldwin and Palm in Arcadia. It was where my nephew Jonathan died in a motorcycle accident the previous Thursday.

He was driving north-bound on Baldwin when man driving westbound on Palm turned onto Baldwin. He crossed Baldwin to go south, but he probably didn’t see Jonathan. The impact killed Jonathan instantly and the small SUV was toppled, with the driver dying later in the hospital.

We friends and family members stood by the make-shift shrines erected by Jonathan’s friends. In the middle of the street, on the traffic island, were signs and letters to Jonny. On the sidewalk at the base of the traffic light were a dozen or so candles, a small motorcycle, others trinkets, lots of flowers, and many good wishes written in chalk on the sidewalk and curb.

We talked about what happened, or, how we thought it might have happened. I took photos. Then I noticed all the various colored spray paint marks in the middle of the street. They were the marks made by the police to define the accident scene. Richard and I tried to figure out what the markings meant. We couldn’t figure it all out, but we thought we recognized marks for the main part of the motorcycle. We stared at a spot where Jonny apparently fell.

The sky was red with awesome clouds, and drops of rain had begun falling lightly. Rain, any rain, was a rarity in early September in California. As we silently stood, we listened for Jonny as the cars roared by. I heard Richard continuing to describe what happened, and listened to his hopes that somehow it was all a dream and Jonny would ride up their driveway on the motorcycle. The sky began to light up in an electrical storm. These were huge flashes of multi-branched light quickly followed by the crack of thunder. I took it to be Jonny’s goodbye to all of us who stood there honoring his last stand, where his 29 years ended.

I reflected on the few but happy interactions I had with Jonathan. Helen and I last saw him at Tina Frausto’s Fouth of July party in Altadena. He was there with motorcycle helmet in hand. He was happy and we enjoyed our short talk.

I remember when I went to a mailbox shop one day in Sierra Madre when I needed something notarized. The man behind the counter smiled as he refused my money for his work. It was Jonny who recognized me. He was happy, and smiled in his generosity. He always seemed so happy to see me, even though we only saw one another very seldom. I’d always hoped that I’d have the time, or make the time, to develop a closer relationship with my nephews and nieces. Now there would be no more chance with Jonny.

I knew through his father – my brother Richard – that Jonny loved bikes and motorcycles from an early age, and that he was – like his two brothers Michael and Jeffrey – a whiz when it came to the technical things like computers.

I wish I could have known him better. Now it is too late.

I know the pain too well of losing someone we love. When my wife Dolores died, I felt empty and lost and depressed for a long time, and close friends offered me much support. Now is the time for friends and family to do all they can to offer your loving support and physical support to Richard and his family.

After Dolores died, my mentor shared with me something to keep in mind with all our living loved ones. This is an urging for how all of us should begin interacting with each other, all the time.


This could be the last time that I see you;
either you or I could die before we meet again;
so please know that I deep-admire your admirable traits
and laud your ceaseless efforts to perfect your soul
and elevate your character (and that of everyone you interact with).
I hope we interact again (in this life or the next);
but if we don’t
I want that you should know
my heart has been enriched by having had you in my life
and hereby do I wish you Godspeed
in your up-and-onward sojourn through Eternity.

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