Today I feature another character who has enjoyed an interesting life - John Love. For this interview, I've asked John my 'toppest questions'.
Welcome, John ...
1. Tell us about you and what you do.
Who I am has changed over the years, from a scared child to a confident young man by the time I reached college age. It would take too long to go into why, but suffice to say that my father died when I was not quite seven and the next father figure was a horror! I ran away from home at the age of eleven, managed to get myself and my little sister some help.
What do I do?
Well most of my life, after training and working in Marine Aviation on a computer warfare bird as an avionics electrician, was to use that training and go to factory schools provided by GM and Delco to become proficient in automotive systems, especially the computer, fuel injection, and engine performance. I became a Master Mechanic, worked 28 years for the same entity as shop foreman/service manager. Left when the owner’s health failed and he sold the property and equipment and then retired. I went to work for a group of dealerships selling the Bobcat brand of construction equipment as their service manager; I retired from that company four years ago.
2. What was the happiest moment of your life?
That would have to be a tie! The day my wife said she would marry me, and the day my daughter was born have to be the best moments ever!
3. What was the saddest moment?
That also has to be at least two events that must be mentioned. First I spent a couple of tours in Nam. I was a Sgt. running crews for combat missions. Our aircraft were electronic warfare, computer modules from one end to the other. Not like todays computers, by a long shot, but very, very advanced. However they never flew that at least one system did not fail. Was not unusual for several to do so. Anyway, our pilots were in way more danger than we were, and we lost a couple, men I knew well. That was hard.
The other was the death of a women I am not related to but is a former school teacher who is, for all intents and purposes, the only mother I have ever had. She rescued me from the people I originally went to for help when I ran away, also managed to get my sister, just took a while longer. She was a great, great person. She is my hero and why I revere women as the driving force on this planet, not men.
4. What surprised you most?
That a women as wonderful as my wife of 37 years picked me! She is the kindest, most honest, compassionate woman on the planet, and she loves me, go figure!
5. What was your greatest disappointment?
I have always wished I had continued my college education after the Marines. I had PTSD, did not know this for years, but I could not settle down. Wanted excitement. So spent years racing dirt bikes, 4x4’s, was crew chief on a race boat that won several Championship while I was involved. I was what they called a river rat, spent a lot of time in the Colorado River skiing and other water sports. By that time I was married, a child in tow, a house in the works, so going back to college just never worked out. I had a lot of education, some in college, but no formal degree.
6. Who did you misjudge? Why?
No one who was a major contributor to my life, I like to think anyway. I pretty much have always known when people were honest, kind, or otherwise. Some people who I judged to be dishonest and unkind turned out to be much more so than I bargained for, so I guess that would be a misjudgement! I have always had a problem with thinking people are good until they prove me wrong, and sometimes the proof was very sudden and a shock. I cannot talk about this further without hurting peoples feeling who had no inkling of who this person actually was until it was to late, even I did not know how evil this person was, just knew I did not like this particular human being since we were teens. He is incarcerated now, awaiting trial for some heinous acts I will not go into. The only redeeming factor Is that I had banned this person from my home and life long before he finally snapped.
7. What or who was your biggest challenge?
Because if my pre-teen childhood and not going to a full year of school until I was almost thirteen, I thought I was stupid and not worth anything. Then first people to take my sister and I were religious, fanatic may no be accurate, but very, very, close. They assumed that sin was catching and having lived with my stepfather meant I was a sinner whose soul needed to be saved. They prayed over me at several church functions every week. They spanked me with a large paddle with holes drilled in it for language such as darn, dang, and gosh. Also for misuse of the English language, picture for pitcher, for example, or leaving a light on when leaving a room. I was spanked pretty much daily. So they made me feel even more unworthy.
However after two years with them I had a plan to run away again. However a lady, who I did not know, the school teacher, somehow knew what I was planning and told me she had a plan and asked me to wait. Best thing that ever happened to me. I found out I was actually rather bright, and not evil either. By the time I graduated high school I as an (A) student, on the student council, had been a class president, and was the editor of the school paper two years running. I was also the captain of an undefeated football team, main string basketball player, and the starting pitcher in every baseball game my senior year. Ok, yea, bragging a bit, but my point is, by this time I had transformed in four years from a shy kid who thought he was scum to a confidant man who knew his worth in the world! All thanks to one woman who was willing to help me.
8. What has been your biggest regret?
I was in college, but ran out of money, I however had been taken in halfway through my junior year by a doctor, who also happened to be a member of the Idaho legislature, another long story. He offered to pay for my college education, but I was to proud, arrogant maybe, to take his offer. I joined the Marines for four years with a guaranteed aviation MOS thinking to use the GI bill to pay for my education when I got out. I of course did not follow that path.
9. What would be your dying comment? Why?
Live for today, tomorrow never gets here!
10. Who or what stunned you the most?
My daughter! She was and is an exceptional person. Has a Masters in education, is an English teacher, both multiple and single subject credentials. She also specializes in reading disorders or students whose first language is not English. She is an exceptional teacher and person, as I stated earlier!
11. What would you like written on your tombstone? Why?
Great husband and father, and a good friend to have!
12. Who would you rather have not met? Why?
I would rather not elaborate. This person was previously mentioned however.
13. Who were you most envious of? Why?
Not sure I have ever been envious of anyone. I am not rich, but I lived a life most people are waiting to live, but never do. I lived at full throttle, but was never mean, never dishonest, never wished for something I did not have except maybe for more education. I have read every classic, own most of them. I now read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, mainly because the authors have no restrictions on plot or timeline, so I guess I envy their talent!
14. Who did you forgive – for doing something you never thought you’d forgive?
Sorry, that has not happened yet, probably never will.
15. What was your greatest moment in your life?
I know this is cliché, but the birth of my daughter and any moment with my wife!
16. What is your greatest achievement?
That I have been a good person, to my friends and my family. That I served honourably in the Corp, and that I have no regrets about my life.
17. What personal traits would you like to have in your next life?
I am not ambitious, but not sure if that is a trait I want. Actually, I am satisfied with who I am in this life!
18. What advice would you give to world leaders?
Almost afraid to answer this, but get religion out of any of their decisions. Religion is only a catalyst for calamity, and in a lot of cases responsible for the most extreme crimes against mankind. I am not picking on any one religion. History is full of atrocities perpetrated by all forms of religions. People need to accept that they are responsible for whether or not they are good or evil, and you, and you alone, are responsible for your own actions. No one should be forced to believe as you do, no one should chastise you for your beliefs, as long as they do not intrude on another persons right to live as they think is right. My personal belief is that I am an Earthling. My bible is on a post-it-note. It says treat everyone as you wish to be treated, cause no harm to another Earthing, or to the Earth!
19. What advice would you give to parents today?
Be engaged. I realize that parents in this day and age have to both work to get by. However there should be rules for your children. A family supper with all the entire family present as much as possible I think is important. Homework and school a priority. Respect, curfew, know where they are and make them report in every time they change locations. Get in touch with teachers and know what their expectations are. I do not care how poor or rich you are, these things remain important. My daughter did not like this at first, but she still tells her mother where she is in her mid thirty’s so she will not worry and reports a change of location. I am not talking about store-to-store, work, or home. But if she goes somewhere out of the ordinary, vacation, etc, she makes sure her mother knows where she is and how things are going.
20. Who would you choose to be stuck on a desert island with?
My wife, of course, is my first choice. If I can choose anyone else for company it would probably be someone along the lines of Tolstoy, or maybe even Socrates. Anyone who could enlighten me further and offer good conversation.
21. Have any heroes? Why? Who?
My best friend, wounded in Nam, eventually lost a leg and has several other wound sites, he was blown up, you see. He is the most forward looking, upbeat guy I know, and a fellow Marine, by the way. He has multiple degrees, he is on the city council where he lives, has teaching credentials, has worked for the VA with PTSD victims, owns a gym, has credentials for physical rehab, and lives life to the fullest. He and I took a three month long motorcycle trip last year, big iron, and his is not a three-wheeler. The only modification he made is that the handbrake also controls the rear brake, as he has no leg on that side that is not made of steel and plastic. Can walk me into the ground, just does not like uneven terrain.
22. What are the greatest legacies you will leave behind?
Friendship and family!
23. What’s lacking in the world today?
Education, ethical politics, and common sense!
24. Any pearls of wisdom for the rest of us?
Not really qualified to say much. Just pay attention to the world around you and remember that most humans are taught to hate, mostly out if ignorance, so be vigilante on that front.
25. What would be the last sentence you ever write?
I hope I did it right!
26. What inspired you most?
Strong women! I have a few male personalities that I admire, but women are mostly responsible for setting me on a good and forthright path.
27. Who or what made you laugh the most?
Friends and family enjoying each other.
28. What would be your top three chosen careers in your next life?
Teacher, archaeologist, or palaeontologist.
- What is your prime focus in life today?
Learning a new craft, fiction writing.
- Do you have any fear of doing something wrong?
- If or when you reflect on your past, can you identify any world events that you believe had a significant impact on you?
The Vietnam conflict, two tours, so was inevitable it would shape my life to some extent, and it certainly did. The World Trade Center attack. I thought differently about the world, or at least I thought about the world in a broader context than I ever had before!
- Do you think one can live a purposeful life without knowing the meaning of life?
I don’t know that anyone has a handle on the meaning of life. However I think you have to attempt to know and in that way make your life meaningful.
33. From your perspective - what is the way forward for the world?
We need to look at each other as equal in all things. We need to actually do what we say we are all about. We decry hunger in other countries while children go hungry all over America. We need to try and see the people of a country or region and not their politics, they are rarely the same.
- Imagine that you were given a chance to live again, what will you do first and what will you do differently?
I have no answer for that. I did the best I could and not sure starting over would make it better or worse. If you are saying I would have the advantage of remembering this life and the wisdom I picked up while living it, then the possibilities are endless!
- Do you have a bucket list? Tell us more.
Would like seeing more of the world. Have been to a around a dozen countries, mostly courtesy of the Marine Air Wings, I was in three, but would like to see more, and not just around military bases or installations.
- Any great claims to fame?
Just your average guy.
37. Anything you’d like to add?
I had a life that was different from most. Had a fairy tale life the first five years of my existence. Father was a war hero, a combat photographer in all three major European conflicts of WWII, A staff sergeant who came home and started a career working for Hollywood Technicolor Corporation, house in Beverly Hills, and the American dream. Then my father did of cancer, my mom, desperate with two children in tow, made some bad life decisions. So I became the child of alcoholic parents, I mean 24/7 drunks. I never went to school; I worked in the fields, and saw stuff that would make your blood curdle. I was also responsible for my little sister, five years younger than me. If I did not make sure she was fed and clothed, no one did. We rarely had shoes, one organization or other always donated clothes to us, and I was always known as (that) kid. Ran away at the ripe age of eleven with my sister in tow, never to return. But life did get better. The religious folk that originally took us in split us up. Actually they were two brothers of the step Dad, a preacher, and the other, the one I was with, later to become a preacher.
My mother and step dad never even bothered to look for us until the money my mother got from the gov’t dried up as the new family applied for it. These religious families were probably the most dishonest individuals it was ever my displeasure to meet. They soured me on religion, a fact I have never gotten over. I was readying to run again, was actually on the road in the middle of the night when the school teacher tracked me down and asked me to wait, she was working on getting me away from them, and promised a better life, she kept her word. I did leave her home when I was teenager in Idaho because they were moving to California where I had a lot of bad memories. My best friend and future co-captain of the football team took my problem to his father, the town doctor. He offered me a place to live, and took the necessary legal steps to make it happen. I suspected, since he was a football fanatic that he just wanted two football stars in his house. We lost one game our junior year and were undefeated as seniors! The school teacher and I had a few rocky years after that, but after seeing me blossom in Idaho while her kids started to run wild, including my sister, she forgave me just before I headed overseas in the Marines. The kids, by the way, all turned out great, except one.
My sister is one that turned out great, just so that is clear. So I thrived in the ranch and logging community in Idaho, I loved school, I mean I absolutely loved school. Took seven sciences in four years, one that the science teacher just made up! I never took any shop classes, not that is not a good thing, but I was always to busy. I did hate math, so I only took the two required to graduate. The science teacher taught me the math I needed for his physics class. I probably should have let the Doctor pay for my education and stayed in school, but I probably would have not lived such an exciting life, or met my wife, so not sorry about a thing! I did not start school until I was almost thirteen, but by the time I was at the end of my sophomore year, I was an (A) student. I am sure being under the influence of a school teacher did me no harm!
Clancy's comment: Thank you, John, for a frank interview. Stay well. Keep going.