Wednesday, November 2, 2011

John Carlisle

Did you ever notice that the older you get the more people around you are dying? Pretty morbid topic, yes, but it's sadly true. The older we get the more people we know, the more people are in our network and it seems like death is all around us. I have five hundred and something friends on facebook and it seems like everyday or at least twice a week, one of them posts about someone in their family who has died. I used to never know anyone in the obituaries in the newspaper, now at least once a week I know someone who is or is related to the person. We expect people to die of old age at some point, but death has no age range, it effects young, old, and everyone in between. Sometimes its disheartening, discouraging and just depressing, but death is a part of life.

In January, it was my 44 year old sister in law, in February, my 11 year old dog, March, my dad's best friend at 72 years old, a little boy from my children's school over the summer, and so on. This week it is John Carlisle from our neighborhood. I believe John is the oldest resident from our street, not the oldest in age, but I believe his was the first house in our neighborhood. When we moved to Alabama in 1991, he is one of the first neighbors we ever met. He wasn't the guy looking out the window at the neighborhood, he was the one IN the neighborhood. If something was going on, he knew about it, if you were doing something, he knew about it, and if you needed anything he would be the one to be there to offer a hand. Not only would he offer a hand, but he was the hand that followed through with it. He was a talker, never met a stranger and I can recall several times being in his presence where I wasn't sure if the conversation would ever end.  I know for years my dad has stored his wood splitter in John's garage, not because John needed it, but because John had the room and insisted upon it rather than see my dad store it outside. His frame was short and stocky with a little curve in his back which I had always attributed to him being a hard worker.

I think our neighborhood says a lot about John, and reflects the man he was, as I believe it was John who set the standard and tone for our street, encompassing all the qualities of a true neighbor. I hold him personally responsible for making our street one where homeowners do not just live on the same street, but are neighbors. One would think our street was actually placed here from a day and time where neighbors were actually neighborly, a concept which has nearly became an endangered if not completely extinct thing in our present day society.  You see ours is a neighborhood where everyone knows every one's name, their kids, dogs, cars and so on. There's even somewhat of a phone tree system to find the cows' owners when they find a damaged place in the pasture fence to get out, and they will find it. When you go on vacation, someone will watch your house, bring in your mail and babysit your dog.  It is a neighborhood where you feel safe and always at home. It is one where in John's death, everyone is calling each other to set up meals for the family and arrange who will go to set up his house to receive family and friends after his funeral.

I read the snippet announcement in the paper today and learned that John was 70. I didn't know how old he was, it just never occurred to me to wonder. He was always active, on a tractor, walking or riding his bike, and you could never pass by him that his hand didn't fly up in the air into a wave.  I didn't know him closely, but you don't have to know someone closely to have utmost respect for them. You don't have to know someone well to grieve for their family. I imagine I will learn a lot more about John when his full obituary comes out in tomorrow's paper, from his friends and family at the funeral home and then again in his home afterward. I know I am honored to be a small part of the neighborhood that will band together at this time to show love to his family at this their most difficult time. I am thankful for John, for what he left us as his neighbors, and I know our neighborhood will never be the same.


  1. Nica what a nice post. It's times like these that make us wish we had been a better neighbor, friend etc. We do have a nice neighborhood don't we? John will be missed by many. Thank you for this tribute. You are a blessing.

  2. This is a nice tribute Nica. I hurts my heart to know he is gone. He holds a special place in my memories of that place. I can't believe I won't see him around the neighborhood again.

  3. This is a great little homage to John, Nica. I'm sure it would make his family proud to read. I hope they find it somehow. John was such a sweetheart, and you're right. He DID set the tone in our neighborhood by being the kindest, most neighborly, hard-working, good-spirited "Mayor of Riddles Bend" we could ever ask for. He will be missed.


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