The Day Big John Was Gone

I hope you’ve been fortunate enough to have a giant of a man in your life at some point.  I’m talking about a real man’s man – not a pretender, not a wanna-be’r.  I mean a man that can slay your emotional dragons, believes in you more than you do, is a fierce protector and a man that sees the way things ought to be and then does everything in his power to right wrongs.

Have you ever been loved like that?  What if that man wasn’t even your own father?  What if he was an uncle who loved you as if you were one of his own?

John Coker was a big man, not only in stature at 6’5”, but also big in heart, soul and his faith.  When he entered a room, he engulfed it with his booming voice and broad smile.  No one laughed harder at his jokes than he did.  He was a born salesman with unparalleled charm and extreme likeability. 

Our history was rich and deep. He and my Aunt Judy kept me for extended periods from the time I was a toddler.  I cannot imagine my life without either of them. Uncle J had two children of his own, yet he always found time to call and check on me.  I was 59 years old when I received his final phone call.  I didn’t know that would be the last time my phone would light up with his name.  Strange how we think our heroes are invincible and will always be with us.

Whenever I would tearfully try to express how much he meant to me, he would smile and say “Darlin’ I’m just doing what comes naturally.”  Those words really struck me then and even more now that he’s gone.  I’ve become keenly aware of people that God has brought into my life at different points – people that desperately needed a “family’s” touch, even if only for a season. 

I hope that Big John is smiling as he looks down at me and I can almost hear him saying, “Darlin’ keep doing what comes naturally.”