In Memorial to Johnny Hawkins

I can’t speak for other people on this planet, but I have always been mesmerized by a person’s personality.  I have discovered that personalities reveal a person’s real treasures.

Johnny Hawkins had what I call “that aura” about him.  An aura is talking about a distinction, or we might even say a unique value that surrounds the individual and is generated by that person’s presence.  Sure, we can make too much out of a human being because after all, we are just flesh.  We are clay that has been created in the potter’s hands.

Johnny Hawkins never called attention to himself as far as his personality or the aura that I noticed about him from the first time I met him. He became what I call, “a man’s man.”  All of the people that knew Johnny knew that he was just who he was.

Johnny and I grew up together, and I often stayed at his house.  I remember in the morning. We would get up, and he would make Minute Maid orange juice from frozen concentrate.  As the orange juice would start melting, he would make us a drink while Marie and Moonie (his parents) would work together on getting the breakfast ready. Johnny always liked to take that last bite of the frozen orange juice, which seemed to be the best part. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone enjoy ‘that last bite’ more than he did.

You know, life has its last bites.  It’s that bite that seems to give all of us hope for tomorrow, a home in eternity, and an inspiration that carries us in the land of the living. That last bite encourages us to keep living, to keep giving, to keep sewing the seeds of goodness, and compassion, and care. That last bite is the loving legacy we leave to those we love most—people who might share in the flavor, a little bit of deliciousness, of what I’ve labeled, that last bite.

There was something about the Lord when he walked this earth.  He left that last bite.  He not only died on the cross.  He not only arose from the grave.  He not only promised that He’s coming back, but He left of all of those stories, those parables, those delicious little-bitty nuggets of truth that people can find comfort.

You know, like “I am with you always even to the end of the world.” Most people just don’t say something like that, but as a Christian, if that is your faith, your belief, you have that affirmation. You also have confirmation, and encouragement that he is with you not sometimes, not most of the time, not now and then, but, “I will be with you always, even to the end of days.”

The influence that Johnny and his wife Kathy have had on my life and on your life has been enormous.  Some called him Hawk, and one day he asked me, “Now, Ronnie, why do you call me Hick?”  I said, “I don’t know Johnny.  I just picked that up.”

He said, “Most people call me Hawk.”  I said, “I don’t know.”  I asked, “If it bothers you, I won’t call you Hick.”

He said, “No, I like it. Keep it up.”

Johnny Hawkins was a person in my life that made my life better.  That’s what the last bite of that frozen orange juice really is.  He made the world around him better.

People that worked with him, people that knew him, people that played golf with him, those who went on trips with him got to taste of that last bite, repeatedly.

I can truthfully say that some of the adventures I had growing up were memorable by merely being in Johnny’s presence.

We went swimming once to that familiar Blue Hole Lake in East Texas. Moonie and Marie took us. We just had a fabulous trip.  Marie had made a delicious picnic lunch.

The next thing I knew Johnny and I were diving off a small cliff into the Blue Hole Lake. What a big, memorable blast we had! When I look back on times like that, I know enjoy immensely that last bite of life itself.

I well recall an extraordinary trip when Moonie drove Johnny and me to Gregory Gym to Austin, Texas at the University of Texas. We attended the high school state basketball tournament.

What a thrill we had! I was enthralled by the fact that Johnny’s family kind of took me in as another son even though I had my own family.  They made me feel like somebody, not just a guest. This is just another example of ‘that last bite’ I was so privileged to experience by knowing Johnny Hawkins.

I shall never forget Moonie giving me a basketball maneuver out of his own playbook. He said, “Ronnie when you come down the court and penetrate the circle, you head right toward the free throw line. I just want you to know that Johnny is right behind you at the top of the key.”

Moonie continued, “All you have to do is just throw that ball behind you and Johnny can score an easy bucket.”

Sure enough, the next game I drove the ball down the court and actually had two players on my heels. We were playing Deweyville High School, with their great coach, Jimmy Sheppard.  On the first possession, I dribbled the ball across the halfway line and headed to the circle near the free throw line.

I literally did not look back.  I just bounced the ball behind my back, and the next thing I knew, the fans were screaming, because Johnny ripped that net and made a long jump shot.  That was a play that was not in our coach’s playbook, it was in Moonie’s. This, too, was a celebrated last bite.

The inconceivable memories that people leave us teach us as well. Naturally, all of us could jot down in some journal or book those last bites of memories we hold in our hearts. For me, I have a treasure trove of “last bite” memories from knowing Johnny Hawkins.

I can hear his one-of-a-kind voice right now when we would talk. I may be traveling down an interstate in Denver.  I might be in my office.  I may have been lounging on the patio.  I might have been right in the middle of a store like Walmart, but when I heard that voice, I dropped everything.

It was because Johnny Hawkins commanded respect and gave respect. He, in fact, demanded respect but graciously reciprocated. It’s one thing to command respect and urge people to respect you whether forcefully or as a requisition, but Johnny Hawkins returned respectfulness as ‘that last bite.’

One eventful day, I got in a skirmish with one of the players on our team in the locker room.  Later when we went to shower, that player came up from behind me and knocked me out.  I went to the shower floor immediately. I never saw his fist coming.

The person that picked me up that day and pushed the other player away was Johnny.

Then he quickly told him, “You’ve got to fight me if you hit Ronnie again.” I was, of course, blindsided.

You don’t forget in life ‘that last bite’ of the Minute Maid orange juice when a friend stands up for you, defends you, and picks you up off the floor.  That was Johnny Hawkins.

And yes, I’m still recalling that last bite of frozen orange juice in the pitcher of life—-so many, many precious memories Johnny left me…us.

Latest posts by ADH2011 (see all)