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Flowers on the altar, photos of loved ones, food that was their favorite—Dia de Los Muertos arrives each November 1 and we celebrate the “Day of the Dead” with friends. We honor those we have loved and lost. We take turns sharing stories and memories of those who’ve left this earth, but their impact remains.

Tonight my friend Bill will open his latest showing of art. It will include paintings of those he has loved and lost. Among them will be John, my husband who died eight years ago. John was old enough to be Bill’s father. Had John not gotten a terminal cancer diagnosis at 55, he would have turned 75 tomorrow.  Bill and John became friends while John was on his cancer journey.

John was a teacher to all.  He lived for eleven years after the prediction that he would die in two. He walked his talk. He would show, not just tell, how to live well.  He was both wise and silly. One of his closest lifetime friends called him “Guru.”

John’s words of wisdom were familiar to all who were privileged to know him.

On Loving: Whether it’s a lot of miles or a lot of years in between, be sure to let folks know you love ‘em.

On Forgiving: I’d a been sad to miss out on having you in my life if you hadn’t.

On Support: Your prayers and kindness all these years made this journey a whole lot easier.

On Being Present: Be sure to notice all the love around you right now while you’re at it.

On Our Thoughts: Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.

On Stuff: Don’t collect too much. You’ll have more time, money, and fun.

On Generosity: Give away your money. It’s sure to make you happy. (Only maybe keep a little bit just in case you need to buy some flower seeds or an acreage or some vitamins or a car or a plane ticket…)

On the Earth: Be Gentle. Compost, recycle, grow a garden, plant a tree, bicycle, write a check or write a letter.

On Your Voice: Speak up. For what you want, need, or believe. Everyone will be better off for it.

On Acknowledging Others: Never pass up a chance to say a word of encouragement or praise. A cashier, your co-worker, your loved ones, a stranger. It takes so little.

On Gratitude: Be grateful. For everything. For being able to see if you’re lucky enough to. For being able to walk if you can.  For the teachers in your life.  Heck, for being alive!

On Being Wise: Beware the guru with all the answers.

On Faith: I worked on this one my whole life and I still believe in it.

On Dying: Believe it or not it’s possible to be peaceful even at death.  I mean it.

Bill’s artistic ability to capture the essence of a person or a situation has always mesmerized me.  I can’t wait to see the image he’s created of this man who left us with all of this. 

Happy 75th, Johnny.

Coach Koenig

How will you remember those you have loved and lost?

How will you walk your talk today?

Can you celebrate the gifts given to you by those no longer in your life?


  1. Susan

    Your tribute to the “Influencer” is touching. I only met John a couple of times in Irwin. Your skill, in part, is to share John’s many pearls of wisdom and love. Thanks for sharing. The greatest compliment I can give to some, in this case, posthumously, is………”Proud to (have) know(n) him”.


  2. There is such pleasure in listening bto the words of a good man. He certainly left a lasting impression.

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