Good bye to my friend Johnny Vilagos…today we said goodbye to a good man and a friend…Its amazing how you often need a whole lifetime to get to know someone, meanwhile you meet someone for the first time and magic happens: you instantly click! That was my friendship with Johnny, only lasted a year, but it sure felt a lifetime…
I feel cheated…wish our paths had crossed earlier in life as this person, whom was mentor to others had so much for offer, so much wisdom, so much caring, so much passion, so much knowledge to share…from the minute I met him, he instantly talked to me as if I was his daughter.
Let me share a little about what I got t know about Johnny…Army veteran, World War II soldier, dedicated husband, father and grandfather, long-lasting friend, compassionate human being that only thought about how he could make this world a better place…don’t think he needs much more description.
Many times I visited Johnny and his wife Dolle, and found him under the shade of some of the trees planted by him years prior; admiring his work; and the minute he saw me he greeted me with a big happy smile and a hug. Even if you didn’t feel like it, you would smile right away with such contagious smile…thinking of him makes me smile!!! He would enjoy my visit and often stood there telling me many stories. You see Johnny, as a Vietnam veteran, survivor of the numerous untold stories, stories that to many did not even happen… He along with many others, did as instructed and stood there as a pillar to many of his brother in arms. And even after taking off the green uniform, he continued to be the strong shoulder for many, many that returned home to unwelcome arms, where many of them lost sense of direction…
Johnny suffered a lot in the last year or so, was very much in pain day in and day out. I visited him several times in the weeks before he passed away. He even asked Dolle for me one day and so the next day I went to visit him…and sadly he was already very weak and barely ate nor took his pills. I often had to tell him, “come on, let’s take these pills and eat something because we have to get strong again”. And he would look at me and just do as I was telling him without hesitation. Then he would breath deeply and start telling me another World War II stories.
It was only two days ago, I came to see him. He was laying in his bed he opened his eyes gave me his hand and squeezed it hard and said “I’ve always enjoyed talking with you, because you’ve been to places I’ve been. Take care of yourself and the kids…” Above on the window behind Johnny’s bed there was a window covered with a bald eagle blanket. I told him, “you have a bald eagle watching over you and he will take care of you…” You see, Johnny loved bald eagles!!
There are many stories still to be told, we will meet again and only then I hope to listen to the rest of them! I will sure miss you!!