My friend John was persecuted. By injustice, which he strongly fought against. And suffering which, thank God, is now a thing of the past.
My friend John was more than a psychologist. He was my psychiatrist and couch. A good listener. An advocate. A consoler. A paraclete. He told me he has seen my soul. And loved me more because I do not sell out to the hoi polloi, our favorite fun phrase. Whenever it rains, I am reminded of his oft-repeated plaint, awful British weather. In our banter, we would inflect the accent and crack up.
He gifted me with a book by his namesake, John W. Lynch, A Woman Wrapped in Silence, and my poetry was never the same. I now write in sonnet form. His other gifts include a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a chime and other books. They are now part of a treasure I cherish deeply, especially his words of warm wisdom on their dedication.
He loved to sing. But his heart was in imparting the choir discipline he acquired from the Madrigals. Which he did thoroughly and, to some, me included, severely. I will never be able to thank him for the lessons he hammered home in my stubborn head.
The first time that I visited him in the hospital, he was wide-eyed with surprise, feigned, of course, because he asked me to. Which was another surprise, because he hated being visited when he was already bedridden. I gave him two Stupid books, read out loud two of my poems, and told funny stories. He laughed. But he wasn’t the same. His shoulders no longer shook. He was a huge man, figuratively. He was still that. But on his sick bed, he was a huge bag of bones. Literally. That was my last visit. I could not stand his pain. And his vain, albeit adamant, attempt to hide it.
Suffering, he kept his dignity. He was a decent man who, to appreciate my question, “Is there anything I can offer you?” said, “Yes, cold water.” I immediately understood it was not only to quench his thirst but also to feed my hunger. To help. His decency asked Ate Eve, his Mom, and me to step out of the ward while he took a leak or break wind because “we might mind the stench.”
I know where his manners come from. Ate Eve reimbursed me for the water. Firmly gently. And I returned the mother-and-son generosity by accepting.
Fare thee well, my friend. For as long as Oca, Ate Gelly and I can still sing “Hardcore Poetry,” your memory lives. And you with it.
(Delivered in the morning of December 26, 2015, after the Requiem)
by Abraham de la Torre