XXII. Family Deranged
Leaving the courthouse, Junior decided to stop by the bank before going home. He knew that if he got home, that he would stay there for the rest of the day celebrating with June.
He just wanted to stop by the bank to make sure everything was running smoothly, He knew Carolyn would be concerned and it would be good to let her know that it was over.
When Junior drove into the parking lot of the bank, that strange feeling started coming over him again. He thought he had a handle on it now since it happened that one time and it turned out to be nothing. He sat there for awhile after he parked waiting for it to pass.
It did not pass and he thought, “People are going to think I’m crazy sitting out here in my car. I had better get in the bank.”
He opened the door of the car and he felt dizzy. He pulled back inside the car and waited again for it to pass.
He feared, “Well one thing is for sure, if I need help, I will not get it out here in the parking lot.” He stepped out of the car holding on for a moment and it did seem to pass a little. At least the dizziness went away.
Junior made his way into the bank. Heading to his office, he passed many who spoke to him, but he did not hear them. His only intent was to get to his office before he passed out.
He passed up Carolyn on the way to his office and closed the door. He got to his chair. Sitting down, he relaxed thinking that now I can let this thing ease up.
Carolyn noticed first that he did not speak. And she noticed that his face as rather pale. She thought that the court must have ruled against him and that he was upset over the ruling.
Knowing that Junior to be an emotional person, she decided to let him have his space until he called for her. Seldom did he go long before he needed something.
Junior never called for her. Carolyn knew when he did not come out for lunch on a regular day that she would always get him something for lunch. She guessed that this would be the case today.
She knocked on his door but no answer from inside. She waited again thinking he might have fallen asleep.
Then the second time, she knocked on his door and this time louder. There was no answer. With the door being unlocked, she opened the door.
She found him slumped over his desk. At first she thought he was asleep, but when she called his name there was no movement. It appeared he was sound asleep.
On previous cases like this, Junior had told Carolyn to shake him if he did not respond to her calling him. Especially if he had been asleep for an extended period of time.
Carolyn was at a loss. So she shook him lightly. No response. She shook him more firmly. Still no response.
She needed help. “Who was she supposed to call? What was she supposed to do?” Everything was amiss and she did not know what to do.
She did not want to alarm June until she knew for sure what was happening. She could call 911 and that would get someone in there to help.
So she quickly dialed 911. They said they would get right over. She instructed them to come in the side entrance.
She had Sam’s cell phone number and she called him. “Mr. Johnson, something is wrong with Junior. I can’t get him to answer me and he is lying slumped over his desk.”
“I have called 911. I think I hear them coming right now,” a scared Carolyn replied.
“Good, you have done the right thing, Carolyn. I will be right there,” Sam assured Carolyn.
Emergency EMT crews ran into the office from the side entrance. She pointed to Junior’s office and they went in.
They were in there about 10 minutes when Sam came running into the office. “What is it?” he shouted, “Do they know yet?”
“They haven’t come out yet, I don’t know?” cried Carolyn. “They haven’t come out yet – why not – aren’t they going to get him to a hospital?”
Sam was frantic. He tried to get by the EMT that was standing by the door. “He’s my son. Let me get in.” The lead EMT nodded and Sam was let in.
“Mr. Johnson, we think Junior has passed away. We are waiting for the coroner to come to make it official,” the lead EMT declared.
“Is there anything we can do for you? How about his wife? Should we let her know or would you want to do that?” asked the EMT.
The lead EMT exclaimed, “I don’t think we need to wait for the coroner – really – I have seen too many people who have died and from my perspective, he has passed away.”
The EMT said, “There does not appear to be any kind of foul play. If I were to guess right now, I would say natural causes – maybe a massive heart attack.”
“I was just with him,” Sam was attempting to put things in perspective in his mind. “I’ve been with him all morning.”
“He was doing fine. He was laughing – he just won a critical court case. How could this have happened? He is so young?” asked Sam – not knowing the answer.
“All these questions in my experience, Mr. Johnson; you may never get the answers too,” stated the lead EMT.
The coroner came in. Everyone moved back for him to make his official declaration.
The coroner asked the EMTs, “Has he made any sound? Has he made any movement at all since you have been here?”
“No, we found him slumped over his desk and all we did was to lay him on a board to get his vitals and ready to transport,” reasoned the EMT team.
“Knowing that we could not help him, we decided that there might not be a need to transport,” stated the emergency crew. “We called you.”
“Well, you were right. We will call it – Mr. Junior Johnson is deceased at approximately 12:30PM on this day. Did you talk to the secretary and was there any indication of his being ill?”
“Yes, we have talked to her and she said he came in – his face was flushed and pale, but it did not alarm her,” answered the lead EMT.
“She went in about an hour later to find out what he wanted to do about lunch and found him slumped over his desk.”
“Is there any family here?” asked the coroner. “We need to start the notification process.”
“Yes, his dad is here. This is Mr. Sam Johnson, his father,” the lead EMT informed the coroner.
“Mr. Johnson, I am so sorry for your loss. I am declaring Mr. Junior Johnson passed away at 12:30 today,” declared the coroner.
“Unless you know of some reason I have not detected, I am going to rule this as a possible massive heart attack. That can be confirmed with an autopsy if the family would want one, but I see no reason to rule any kind of foul play,” explained the coroner.
“The secretary saw him go into the office, and no one went in after him until she went to see what he wanted for lunch and found him. In my professional opinion, he passed away from cardiac arrest,” he concluded.
“No,” the reality of what had happened was beginning to sink in and Sam agreed. “No, I agree with you and I don’t see a need for an autopsy. I will discuss it with his wife, but for me and his Mom – No.”
Sam declared, “I need to get to his wife’s home now and let her know. She is going to be devastated.”
Sam exclaimed, “I don’t want to do it over the phone. Carolyn, keep this under wraps and don’t tell anyone until I get to June.”
He instructed, “Call my wife – you have her number. Tell her to meet me at June’s as quickly as she can.”
“Then call Steve and tell him. Tell him personally – not through Sherry,” he instructed. “He will know how to handle this from the banking perspective. Listen to him.”
He continued, “Stay here until the funeral service gets here but don’t let him be taken out until I talk with June, Carolyn. We will stay in touch with you and let you know what is going on.”
He continued, “I am sure June will be using Pace & Pace Funeral Services. Keep everyone away from Junior. I will have June give them a call.”
To the EMTs, Sam said, “Just leave Junior here until Pace arrives. Don’t move him or take him out of the office until I talk with his wife. Use the side door when you do take him out.”
“OK, Mr. Johnson. We are so sorry for your loss. We wish we could have gotten here in time. I will have one of my men stay here until Pace arrives,” stated the EMT.
Sam agreed with the EMTs and said, “I know – you guys do the best you can and we appreciate all that you do. Thank you,” said Sam.
Sam then left the bank to get to June before anyone else could tell her. “How do you tell someone their soul mate has died,” he thought as drove quickly to her home.
Carolyn went into one of the adjacent offices and called Steve at Community Bank. Sam said to contact him and this is all I know to do.
“Community Bank. How may I direct your call?” responded the receptionists answering the call from Carolyn.
“I need to talk to Mr. Johnson as quickly as you can get him. It is an emergency,” stated Carolyn.
The receptionists replied, “Yes. Just a moment and I will put you through.”
The call went straight to Steve, “This is Steve, can I help you?” He did not know who was calling but strangely knew the call was urgent.
“Mr. Johnson, this is Carolyn at the New Age Bank. I was asked to call you and to tell you that Junior – Mr. Johnson – has had a massive heart attack and he has passed away this morning,” she stated.
“Whoa, slow down and give that to me again,” asked Steve hurriedly.
Carolyn again stated, “Junior has had a massive heart attack this morning. He has passed away here at the bank.”
Silence as Steve was taken by the news. Then he asked, “Where is Sam?”
“He was just here with the EMTs and he left to go tell June. He did not want her to hear it on the phone. He wanted me call Joan to meet him there, but I called you first.”
“He said you would know what to do with the bank. Mr. Johnson, I don’t know what to do,” Carolyn was crying softly in the phone.
“That’s good, Carolyn. You’ve done right by calling me. Thank you for calling me. I will get in touch with my wife and we will get over there as quickly as we can. Don’t worry about Joan, I will call her myself.”
“Regarding the bank, I am going to send Sherry over there to help you – don’t go home. Work with her. As soon as they remove Junior from the bank, close up for the day.”
He explained, “Sherry will help you put it together. You will need a wreath for the front door explaining a death in the family. Again Sherry can help you. We went through this when my Mom and Dad were killed.”
“Thank you, Mr. Johnson. I just did not know what to do. Having Sherry will be a big help, thank you,” cried Carolyn.
“OK, you just stand by until Sherry gets there. I’ll tell Sam what I have done when I get to June’s,” replied Steve.
Steve hung up and called Joan. When she answered – before she could speak, Steve said, “Joan, I don’t like doing this by phone, but Junior has had a massive heart attack this morning and has passed away at the bank.”
“Sam is headed to June’s home right now to tell her and needs you to be with him as quickly as you can get there. He can give you more details when you arrive,” explained Steve. “I am so sorry.”
Joan, surprisingly calm, said, “OK Steve, I’m on my way. Thank you for calling.” The trooper that she is; she hung up the phone with a 1000 questions clouding her mind. But put them off to get to June’s home and Sam.
Steve hung up the phone and called for Sherry to come in. “Close the door.”
Sherry closed the door and turned to face Steve with a questioning look. “Sherry, Junior has had a massive heart attack and he has passed away at the bank just now.”
“Carolyn is over there alone and does not know what to do,” said Steve. “I want you to go over – she knows you are coming. Help her maintain proper protocol for the bank.”
He continued, “The EMTs and the coroner are there and Sam is on the way to tell June.”
“Call Sandra and tell her to meet me at Junior’s house and you go over to Carolyn and help her,” he instructed. “I’m leaving now.”
He informed her, “Call Pastor Wilson before you go and tell him we are all going to Junior’s house to be with June. He might want to join us, but tell him to keep it quiet for right now.”
Steve instructed, “After they get Junior out of the bank, close the doors and put a sign up.”
Ending, “Send everyone home with instructions to keep it quiet for the day. Order a wreath for the door – you know the drill – it will be like Mom and Dad all over again.”
“Will do. I will make the calls right now and then I will get over to Carolyn,” said Sherry.
Steve left to go to June’s. It was time for the family to pull together again.
When Steve arrived at Junior’s house, he saw Sam’s car there already. He knew to expect the worst.
Entering the house without even knocking, he saw Sam holding June and comforting her as best as he could. She was crying and looked as if she was in total shock.
The reality had yet to set in on what Sam had just told her. Joan drove up. Steve went to meet her at the door.
She was crying and distraught. Steve grabbed her and hugged her until he felt her ease up a bit and he let her go so she could go to Sam and June.
Sandra and the pastor drove up at the same time. They stopped momentarily and were talking in the driveway, but Steve could not hear what was being said.
Sandra turned and came into the house with Pastor Wilson following her. Steve went to Sandra to comfort her. Pastor Wilson looked for Sam and June along with Joan.
Steve grabbed Sandra and hugged her tight. She began crying profusely. He held on even tighter. “I know, I know - it is a terrible loss. We are going to have to be strong for June, Sam and Joan.”
The pastor went around them and over to June who now was beginning to accept what she was hearing was true. Junior was gone. She broke into uncontrollable crying again at the sight of Pastor Wilson.
Joan and Sam did what they could, but it was little comfort. The pastor held her hands and said a silent prayer in her behalf, but nothing seemed to give her comfort at the moment.
They all in the midst of their grief allowed June to express her emotion without interruption. Sam turned to Joan, “Honey, one of us is going to have to call Pace and get them down to the bank to pick up Junior.”
June cried out, “No, I want to see him before they take him away! Sam you know once they get him, he will not be the Junior we all know.”
“June, are you sure that is what you want to do? Seeing the determination in her face, he responded, “Let’s do it right now. You ride with Joan and me.”
Sam was still trying to control himself for June’s sake, “I will call Pace from the car. We can all wait for them to come at the bank. We can be with Junior until they come.”
“Steve, I am going to take June to the bank to be with Junior. Joan will go with me,” said Sam.
“Can you call the bank and tell the EMTs not to let anyone take Junior out of the bank period until we get there,” instructed Sam.
“No problem,” Steve answered. He moved toward June and gave her a hug, “I am so sorry, June.”
Sandra came over and joined in with the hug and told June, “We are here for you, June. Anything you need – let us help you.”
Sam took June by the arm and guided her to the door and out to the car. Joan followed and they left immediately to go to the bank.
“Come on Sandra, I will call the EMTs from the car while you drive,” instructed Steve. They practically ran to their car and were on their way to the bank.
“Carolyn, let me speak to the EMTs,” instructed Steve. He was calling from his cell phone on the way to the bank.
“Yes Sir, Mr. Johnson. What can I do for you?” came the reply from the EMT.
“Look the family is on the way to the bank as we speak. Don’t let ANYONE move Junior from the office until we get there. Is everything else going OK for now?”
“Yes, I was waiting for Pace to come and they have not showed up yet,” he answered.
“Good, Sam is calling them now from his car and I am pretty sure we will get there before they do, but just in case – tell them I said not to move Junior until we get there,” instructed Steve.
“Is Sherry Calhoun there?” asked Steve. He knew he could count on her.
“Just a minute; is there a Sherry Calhoun here. Good, hold the line, Mr. Johnson, here she comes.”
“Sherry, where do we stand with the bank?” asked Steve. “We have got to make sure this situation is under strict control.”
“I’ve taken care of the employees and most of them have left the bank,” Sherry recounted. “We have ordered a wreath for the door and I have put a sign on it to alert anyone coming in that there has been a death in the family – not mentioning who.”
Sherry said, “I went ahead and sent Carolyn home. She’s a wreck. She is the one who found him slumped over his desk.”
“Great, that was a good move. The family – June, Joan, Sam, me, and Sandra are coming to the bank right now. I have instructed the EMTs to not let anyone move Junior until we get there.”
Steve informed Sherry, “Get in one of the offices where you can close the door and call Warner. As soon as the State Banking Commission gets wind of this, they are going to swoop down on Lebanon.”
He knew the banking commission would act quickly, “They know Junior was the lead man with the bank. Without him there possibly would not be a bank.
“We have got to get Warner started working up a plan of continuity for the bank to protect June, Sam, Joan, not to mention all the depositors.”
“Will do,” Sherry replied, “I will make the call right now. I will keep you informed.”
“Good, we are driving up now. We will be in shortly,” concluded Steve, “Be sure the door is open for the family. I see June, Sam and Joan coming to the door right now.”
“It is – not to worry,” finished Sherry as she scurried to an empty conference room adjacent to Junior’s office.
Steve and Sandra let Sam and Joan – holding June between them – enter the bank first. Steve knew that knowing someone close had died is one thing but to see the body is something else.
He asked quietly, “Sandra, do you have any smelling salt in your purse?”
“What? Smelling salt went out years ago, Steve,” exclaimed Sandra, “What do you want it for?”
“I’m telling you when June walks into that office; she is going to pass out, “said Steve.
“Well, if she does, we have an EMT to revive her. I’m sure they have the proper antidote for it,” instructed Sandra.
Sam and Joan led June to Junior’s office. The EMT and Sherry were standing by as they directed her to the office where Junior was.
Steve and Sandra followed. “I have got to go in. I have got to see Junior,” cried June.
“Come with me and hold on to me, June,” instructed Sam as he led her into the office. Joan followed.
At first there was silence – then there was a cry from June, “Oh, Junior, what have you done?” Then there was silence again.
The EMT ventured a glimpse into the office. But did not attempt to enter.
Sam held June as she comforted Junior in her arms. He was so serene almost as it nothing was wrong other than he was sleeping.
Sam left June with Joan. He told Steve, “I called Pace from the car and they should be arriving soon.”
It was beginning to hit home for Sam. He had been caught up in the letting everyone know routine.
And taking care of what he could. In the process he had not allowed himself to think about Junior being gone.
But to see June cradling Junior in her arms, kissing his face, and talking to him as if he were still there was too much. He began to cry.
Steve grabbed Sam. Joan came out and she went to Sam also.
“Sam we have so much to be thankful for. Junior was a great Son and we could not have asked for a better member of our family. You know how he always laughed everything off and tried to make us think everything was OK when he was hurting.”
She continued, “That was our beautiful Son and I am so grateful to be his Mother. I know you are proud to be his Father.”
“Yes, but Joan, it hurts so much. You should have seen him this morning when he won the lawsuit. All his problems were solved,” shared Sam.
He said, “He could now look to the future. For once he could be secure as in his business.”
“His first words were, ‘I have got to tell June.’ That was Junior for you – they shared a beautiful relationship as husband and wife and as part of our family,” stated Sam between softly sobbing.
“She is going to need us to get through this,” said Joan, “And not just us, but Steve, Sandra, John and Sarah. We are family and we need to stand together through this as family.”
The men from Pace walked in. They were pointed to the direction of the office. Sam and Joan went in first and told June that Pace was there and they needed to take Junior with them.
“No, he is here with me. No … no one can take him,” she began to cry again. Joan reached down and lifted June up as she laid Junior’s head back on the EMT board.
June knew that they had to take him, but she did not want to give him up. But as reality struck home, she backed off and let the men do their work in securing Junior to the gurney.
Sam and Joan led June back into the outer office and stayed with her until the men from Pace had put Junior on a gurney. They rolled him out of the office.
They had put Junior in a bag and left his head uncovered. They stopped one last time for June to say goodbye.
She went forward and kissed his forehead while the family stood behind her saying their silent goodbyes in their hearts. Sam was holding Joan, who was crying uncontrollably, while Steve was holding Sandra.
A very solemn moment as the life of a young man in the prime of his being was taken from the Johnson family. “Wasn’t it enough to take his Mom and Dad,” thought Sam. “Now his son.”
One of the Pace men leaned over to Steve and said that the family could meet with the Services Director at their convenience tomorrow. The Director could give them all the details on the visitation prior to the funeral, the casket requirements, flowers and grave site.
Steve thanked him and they removed Junior from the outer office and the bank. Joan walked June out behind the gurney with Junior. She stood by with June as they loaded him in the Hearst and drove away.
June got in the car with Joan. Joan said, “It is not going to be good for you to be alone tonight. You are coming to our house for the night.”
“No,” said June. “Our home is our home. I will stay there.”
Joan replied, “Then I will stay with you.” Sam and Joan drove June home in Joan’s car. Joan got out with her.
Sam remained in the car and called Steve on his cell phone. “Steve, we are going to need to be strong for June just like we were for Mom and Dad.”
“I assume you will be contacting John and Sarah. I know June will want them here if it is possible,” submitted Sam.
“It will be,” said Steve, “I will see to that. They will want to be here.”
“Joan and I will take June down to Pace tomorrow afternoon,” said Sam. “I will make an appointment for that time and we will set up the arrangements.”
“From a community standpoint, I know that there will be an overflow of food coming. Let’s set that up for mine and Joan’s house. That will help June to get out and when necessary she will have a place to go without people coming around.”
“Steve, you and I are going to have to get together on what we can do with the bank.”
“I know,” said Steve, “The State Banking Commission is going to be hot to trot when they hear this. I took it on myself to call Warner and get him started on some kind of plan for continuity.”
Steve explained, “I doubt that Junior – just getting started – has a contingency plan in place. If we can get that set up – the banking commission might give more time to work this out.”
“Good, I had not thought of that, but that is good,” a concerned Sam stated, “Warner can give us some pointers that we can follow. Let’s get together – not tomorrow – but the next day and set up a meeting with Warner to see what he has on his mind.”
“That is fine with me, Sam,” said Steve, “Whatever I can do to help. Sam, we are family and we stand together for June’s sake.”
“Good and thank you for helping out today with Sherry,” responded Sam, “She is wonderful with these kinds of things. She did a great job with Mom and Dad.”
“Look Joan is with June at her home. I left my car there – can you drop me off on your way home?”
“No problem, I need to take Sandra with me over to Junior’s house anyway as she left her car there when we came to the bank,” explained Steve.
They left to go to Junior’s home to get Sandra and Sam’s car. The reality was setting in. They had one less member in their family.
Sam and Joan went with June the next afternoon to plan the arrangements for Junior’s funeral. They had already decided before they got there that it would just be close friends and relatives in attendance.
The memorial and funeral for Walter and Dessie had not been a forgotten event in Lebanon. Walter and Dessie were indeed founders in the community and deserved all that came there way as a remembrance.
Although Junior’s death was no less of an impact for the family; it did not measure to the same level for the community. June wanted Junior’s life to be remembered in a very private manner
June picked out a beautiful casket, made the service arrangements. Sam and Joan went with her into the cemetery to view plot for his burial.
The Johnson family had a large family plot. Space had been allotted for Sam and Joan then Junior and June on one side of Walter and Dessie and Steve’s family on the other side. The service was going to be coordinated with Pastor Wilson. All was set.
Steve had gone by the bank to take care of some last minute details. While there he called Warner and inquired, “Warner, have you had an opportunity to look at how we are going to handle the bank situation? You know the banking commission will be here come Monday morning for sure.”
“Yes, I have. I am going to need yours and Sam’s input on how to proceed before I can move forward, however,” answered Warner. “We have several options and it is a matter of how the family feels best to move forward.”
He continued, “The first and simplest solution is that June is going to inherit everything. Junior did not have a will so after probate; everything goes to her – bank included just like any other business venture.”
Cautioning, “But the simplest is not always the best solution especially when other people are involved. Such as the banking commission, bank customers and depositors.”
He shared, “The state is going to get involved if they have not already. If we can show that an experienced person or persons can take over the management of the bank with June’s approval as the majority stock holder, then we have a shot at keeping the bank open.”
“Who that experienced person or persons is going to be is where I come to you and Sam? The family is going to have to sit down with June and get her feelings regarding this issue,” explained Warner.
“Well, June cannot run the bank that is for sure,” said Steve. “We will have to look at options.”
“You are right” replied Warner. “I don’t think the state will accept her as the operating officer of the bank.”
“That only leaves Sam,” Steve commented. “Can Sam do it if June gives the approval?”
Warner said, “Steve, do you remember the agreement you made with Sam on the sale of his stock to you. There was a 5 year non-compete clause in the contract of sale.”
He elaborated, “The state is going to hold fast to that clause. They can contest it if Sam becomes the operating officer for June.”
Steve remembered and exclaimed, “Oh, yeah – that. Well, that was for a different reason at the time and not in the event of a death in the family.”
“Well maybe so, Steve,” replied Warner, “But it is there. The state is going to address it when the time comes for final approval.”
He reasoned, “Their position is going to be it is a non-compete period regardless of the circumstances. And to them – that cannot be changed with the stroke of a pen.”
“You have also to consider the bank in Nashville and your loan with them to buy Sam out. It is part of the loan agreement as well,” exclaimed Warner.
He continued, “Another possibility is that June can sell you the majority interest in the stock to give you control of the bank in its entirety through your bank. You run it as either as a branch bank or a separate entity.”
Warner explained the terms of the agreement, “To keep dollars out of the equation, she could sign her proxy for her stock over to you to run as you please with an irreversible limited power of attorney. The state might accept that.”
Warner declared, “You are the only full, clean, and clear experienced person that I feel the State Banking Commission will agree to under those circumstances. I don’t see anybody else.”
Warner described one solution involving Sam, “There is one other solution, if June gives you control of the bank; you can employ Sam to work for you to run the bank, but he cannot do it unless he works for you. He could then be looking after June’s interest while running the bank.”
Warner explained, “The state is going to require that you be the sole entrepreneur making all the decisions and there will have to be documents drawn up to that effect and signed by all. At the end of the 5 year agreement non-compete clause, you can look at other options then – again with June’s approval since she is the majority owner.”
“Well, that is something to think about,” said Steve. “Set up a meeting for us in the morning and I will get with Sam and we will come in.”
“I don’t think we want to involve June just yet,” cautioned Steve. “I want Sam to handle her when the time comes and we agree on a path to take.”
“Good, I have 10 in the morning available for 2 hours. Will that work?” answered Warner.
“I’ll make it work. I will confirm after I talk with Sam. Thanks for your help Warner,” confirmed Steve.
Steve called Sam, “Sam, we are going to have to discuss the banking situation and do it quickly for June’s sake. If the State Banking Commission has not already heard about Junior’s death, it will not be long before they do.”
Steve warned, “You know what that means. They will send in an army of accountants to monitor the bank’s activity to make sure they protect the interest of the public with their deposits.”
“I talked to Warner and he has some ideas. Can we change the meet to 10 in the morning?”
“No problem – at 10,” confirmed Sam. “Did he give you a direction we can go?”
“He gave me several directions and he said that he would need our input on which path to take,” explained Steve.
“Good, then let’s do it at 10 in the morning. The sooner we can do it the better. June knows that something is going to have to be done,” explained Sam.
“Fine, come with your thinking cap on. It could be troublesome with the banking commission knocking on the door,” concluded Steve.
“By the way, the visitation is for tomorrow evening between 6 and 8 at Pace,” instructed Sam, “The service is at 10 the next morning. The funeral service is for only relatives and close friends and only the family for graveside.”
Sam asked, “Will this work for John and Sarah? I know that June will want them there if possible.”
“Yes, Sandra worked this morning. She is setting up a flight for John. Sarah and her fiancé are driving in today,” answered Steve, “They should arrive around dark-thirty.”
Steve added, “I know that this is not a good time to meet someone but y’all will get to meet Sarah’s future to be, and my new doctor surgeon son-in-law to be.”
“That will be great to get to see them and to meet him,” said Sam. “We will look forward to it.”
Steve updated Sam on John, “Oh, and John and Sharon, the pastor’s daughter, have renewed their relationship from their high school days.”
He continued, “John is not going to announce for the NFL draft. He is coming to work full time for me this summer.”
“He and Sharon were inseparable the entire Valentine weekend. We hardly saw them,” lamented Steve.
“Is she the Sharon that works for you? That’s the pastor’s daughter? I heard about a Sharon worked for you at the bank with Jody Carmichael,” declared Sam, “That’s the one John is seeing now? Wow!”
“Yeah, John said that if I clamp down on the no-dating rule in the bank – he is going to pull the Son-Card on me,” Steve shared. “These young people now-a-days keep you guessing.”
“Well seems you are keeping banking in the family except for Sarah,” said Sam. “But it is good to have a doctor in the family.”
Sam thought about what he just said and his emotions rose back up. “It really will be good to have a doctor in our midst. Maybe that way you won’t be faced with what we are going through with Junior.”
“Who would have thought …?” Sam’s voice trailed off. Thinking about Junior in the past tense was difficult.
“I got to go. See you at 10 at Warner’s in the morning,” Sam tearing up – hung up.
“Great,” finished Steve and he hung up the phone. He felt for his brother and what they must be feeling.
“This is going to be tough on Sam and Joan not to mention June,” he thought. “You are not supposed to have to bury your children. I can only imagine if I had to bury John or Sarah. Wow that would be hard!”
Steve called Sandra, “How are things going? You need my help on anything.”
“No. Things are as well, as can be expected,” answered Sandra, “I have John arriving in Nashville this afternoon at 3. Sarah and James will be here for dinner.”
“You want to pick John up? I can go if you want me to,” Sandra said.
“No, I will go. I need to get away for a bit anyway,” agreed Steve.
“Joan called and said the visitation would be tomorrow evening between 6 & 8. Then the service the next morning at 10.”
“Steve, Joan asked me about your doing an eulogy for Junior. They thought it best to ask me instead of going directly to you. What do you think?” asked Sandra.
“Well I worked the boy for a number of years and I knew him well. Sam or Joan will not be able to do it; that is for sure. I don’t think you would want to – so, yes, I will do it.”
“Call her and let her know so that she will not be worried about getting someone else. Wow, I have heard eulogies before but I have never given one – this is going to take some time developing,” ventured Steve.
“Well give it some thought and if you want me to help you. I will be happy to do it. Maybe you can give it some thought on the way to pick up John. He is on American Flight 3301 from Dallas/Fort Worth. He is arriving Gate 4,” explained Sandra.
“Look, I am in the office right now. I will grab a sandwich for lunch and pick up John later. I’m going to work on the eulogy right now. Call me if you need me.”
“Before you go, tell me, how is Sam with this bank thing?” asked Sandra. “Do you think he is going to be willing to let it go?”
Steve explained, “I have set up a meeting with Warner at 10 in the morning. We are going to try to decide what to do with the bank.”
“To answer your question, I don’t know what Sam will want to do. Warner ran a few suggestions by me this morning on the phone,” added Steve.
Steve continued, “We will go over them tomorrow but neither of them leads to Sam becoming the out and out owner of the bank or even running the bank. Someone else will have to be in charge. Warner thinks I am the only one the State Banking Commission will accept.”
He concluded, “We will have to see. Look, Sandra, I need to get my mind straight on this eulogy thing. I will get John at 3 with American Flight 3301 Gate 4. Take care and I love you.” He hung up the phone.
Sandra thought, “Well that takes care of Steve for the time being. He has plenty of things to do now – the eulogy; picking up John; and the bank decisions. That’s a lot for Steve.”
“A eulogy for Junior. That is something I never dreamed I would be doing,” Steve thought.
Seeing the kids moved his mind away from Junior. “Be good to see the kids again – be better just not under these circumstances though.”
His mind returned to the eulogy. He was swirling with thoughts about Junior. He was trying to pin one down to make it the primary subject for the eulogy.
June had settled in emotionally to some degree. That and the sedative the doctor had prescribed for her. But she was handling things better now.
Pace had said they would call that afternoon when they had Junior ready for the family viewing. They could make any changes the family needed at that time.
June had accepted that Junior was gone and was never coming back. Sam came into the room and sat down next to her and held her hand.
“June, Steve and I have a meeting with Warner in the morning to discuss what to do with the bank. Ordinarily things like this don’t have to have this much attention this quick, but then this is a bank and people have their money tied up in it.”
He explained, “The State Banking Commission is going to want a direction the bank is going to take. Especially with Junior no longer associated with the bank. Right now, you own the bank lock, stock, and barrel.”
He continued, “What you do with it is your decision. We will try to get some direction from Warner in the morning with options for you to look at.”
“I am not interested in what the bank does,” an exasperated June said, “I can’t bring my mind to make those kinds of decisions right now.”
“I know and I am not asking you to,” explained Sam, “Just know that Steve and I will meet with Warner in the morning. We will find out what options you have.”
He finished, “Then maybe tomorrow afternoon we can sit down and make the immediate decisions that need to be covered. We can leave the rest for another day.”
“Thank you Dad for your help and thank Uncle Steve for all he is doing as well. I am so grateful to have a family with me during all of this.”
June said, “Right now, I think I will go lay down for a while.” The sedative was kicking in again.
June’s parents had purchased the farm outside of Lebanon when she was a senior in high school. She had been close with them, but 2 years ago, her Dad suffered a heart attack and passed away.
Her Mom lost a battle with breast cancer and was gone. The Johnson families gathered around her and made her feel as if she was one of their own. Now with Junior gone, they were even more supportive of her.
Sam helped her up and she went her to her room. So much to consider and so much to do.
June said, “Let me know when Pace calls. I will want to go see what they have done.”
At the noon hour they got her to come to the dining room table. June ate very little. Sam and Joan tried to encourage her to eat more, but she would not and they let it be.
The phone rang and it was Pace. The viewing could be done at the family’s convenience as they had Junior ready.
Sam and Joan went with June to Pace. She was pleased with what Pace had done. “You have done well,” a pleased June expressed, “You have captured the joy in his face. You could not have done that without knowing where he is right now.”
June exclaimed, “That’s where I find the most comfort now is in knowing that Junior is not gone. He is in heaven with his grandparents probably talking about banking.”
A light laughter followed the comment as she continued, “Thank you and to all your staff for the wonderful work you have done. You have been very helpful.”
Sam and Joan took June back home. Joan stayed with her. Sam went home with his own personal thoughts and emotions of Junior – his one and only son.
Steve arrived at the airport only minutes before the John’s flight was due in. “John is going to be all over me for being late,” he thought. But to his surprise as he parked and went inside to the luggage area, he saw John standing and waiting for his luggage.
“Dad, you made it,” declared John. “I thought you might be late when you were not at the gate.”
“Yeah, I made it and with time to spare,” exclaimed Steve, “That’s your luggage coming now with the A&M stickers all over it – right?”
“Yeah, let’s get it and get out of here,” shouted John, “I want to see Sharon this evening. I have already called her and I hope you are going to let me have a car while I am here.”
“Sure, but remember you have a Mom and a Dad that want to see you too, not to mention why you are here,” admonished Steve. “Girlfriends might have to take a back seat.”
“Girlfriends – there is not girlfriends, there is only the one girlfriend,” laughed John. “And yes I feel for June in the loss of Junior. We will make a point of going by to see her.”
John inquired, “You have to tell me about what happened with Junior on the way home. He was only a few years older than me. What a way to go and he was so young.”
They loaded John’s luggage into the car and headed out to the freeway for Lebanon. On the way back to Lebanon, Steve asked, “Well, did you tell Coach Sumlin your plans for after A&M?”
“Yes, I did. First, he agreed with me that dollars and politics are too prevalent in all pro sports these days. Even in the coaching ranks.”
John shared, “He says it is no longer a sense of loyalty to any team. All the teams go after you under the table trying to get you to come their way even after you sign contracts,” answered John.
“Second, you should have seen the phone calls stop. It was like my cell phone went dead,” John explained.
“No one was calling to recruit me or anything. I guess that tells you what life in the pros might have been like – huh?” laughed John.
“I’m looking forward to getting back home in a couple of months and getting my feet on the ground in the bank. I’m ready to get my feet wet.”
“Yeah, you are not fooling me; I know where you want to get your feet,” laughed Steve, “You will be running your feet all the way over to Pastor Wilson’s house.”
John laughed, “You know this could turn into something. I am thinking about getting married one of these days if she will have me,” said John.
“Maybe a double wedding if Sarah and James wind up getting married in June – huh? Get you to spend some money on my wedding while you are paying for hers. How about that?” teased John.
“You kids are going to be the death of me yet with all this conniving between the two of you. Guess I should not use the term ‘death of me’ right now.”
“But,” added Steve, “I’ll admit Sharon is a real sharp girl and would be a great catch for you. You think she will go a broken down football player?”
“Broken down,” shouted John, “I’m in the prime of my life. Broken down indeed, who’s broken down?”
Changing the subject, Steve said, “Look, your Mom has asked Sharon over tonight for dinner. Sarah and James should be there when we get in so I suspect Sharon will take care of your cockiness.”
Steve explained, “Just keep in mind that Sarah and James have driven in while you flew in. So they might need to rest up before tomorrow.”
“That’s OK with me,” explained John, “Sharon and I will have some time alone with you and Mom tonight. I understand you are doing the eulogy for the service. That’s got to be tough. Think you can handle it?”
“Do I have a choice? There was no one else who could do it and I got elected by acclamation,” relented Steve. “I don’t mind though – Junior was a good boy or I should say good man.”
“Well know that I will be praying for you as you speak,” John got serious for a moment, “Junior WAS a good man – just a good man who was taken far too young in life.”
“Yep. Somehow I have get that over to the family,” acknowledged Steve.
Steve and John arrived home and Sharon came running out to greet John. Sandra came to see Steve but not with as much enthusiasm as Sharon with John.
“Just wait until they put 30 years behind them in a marriage,” thought Steve as he kissed Sandra. “Things will change.”
The next morning at 10, Steve arrived at Warner’s office at the appointed time. As he was getting out of the car, he noticed Sam drive in.
As Sam was getting out, he was surprised to see June with him. He wondered if this would be good, “But then if she could handle it, she needed to be in on the conversation. After all right now it was her bank.”
Steve went to June and gave her a hug and again expressed, “June, Sandra and I are here for you. Anything we can do. Oh, and John and Sarah came in late yesterday afternoon. They will be at the visitation this evening.”
“I am so happy they could make it,” said June. “I know Junior would be pleased to know they were here.”
“Most would say that with all that has happened over the last few years that our family would be totally deranged, but instead we have stayed together. We are here for each other,” cried June. “Thank you.”