I wish that you could have known this extraordinary man, John Fridlund. John and his wife C’Dale have been members of Bethany Church, where I’m currently the pastor, for 59 years. John died the evening of October 17. I had the amazing honor of being at his bedside when he breathed his last breath. I didn’t know that it was going to be his last. I kept waiting for another. His mouth was open and his tongue moving as if he were speaking some silent words, a good-bye maybe, or a hello. We were in the hospice room, just the two of us. “Hello John, it’s Pastor Sherrie,” was all that we had said.  It was a last flutter of wings really. I’m honored to be a witness.

John, Dr. John as his license plate reads, with a Ph.D. in Education from Northwestern University, was an educator, a school Superintendent, a storyteller, a W.W.II veteran, a faithful and grace-filled man, an independent thinker who loved life, and God, the church, his family, Buick cars, music, and good jokes. John touched people’s lives, people of all ages. He touched my life.

John had been ill this past year. He had been back-and-forth from hospital to rehab nursing care in the past months. On an earlier visit with John at the hospital, we had spoke of his deep concerns for his life-long partner, C’Dale, for the church, and for his entire family. He said that he missed music and so there in the hospital he and I sang an old hymn: ” Shackled by a heavy burden. ‘Neath a load of guilt and shame. Then the hand of Jesus touched me. And now I am no longer the same. He touched me. Oh, he touched me. And oh the joy that floods my soul. Something happened and now I know. He touched me and he made me whole.”

John had a wonderful, sonorous bass voice. He held my own voice up. And so many of our voices. His spirit and his heart for the right keep us strong. I’m so glad to have known him.

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