Emotional, Love and Life of a Testimony

Light, Vapor, Legacy: A Tribute to Johnnie Phillips


The ambulance lights were the first things I noticed.  People were standing everywhere around the house and I felt a sadness coming from their staring face as we approached the house.  We were cautioned of what we would see as we entered the door.  There inside a 67 year-old man lay, in the floor, blue in color and not breathing.  I watched my husband say good bye to his father, and my two sons weep over their Gran Gran.  We prayed a prayer of thankfulness I will never forget.  We were looking at an empty shell that we call a body, but the spirit and soul was elsewhere which comforted us.

Yesterday we received a phone call that would forever change our lives.  My insides were shaking, nerves on end with a thought of “this is it”.  Several moments later another phone call with the news we had already suspected to be true.  I made the phone call to Jeff’s sister, and he made the phone call to his mother, Benita.  As ironic as it may seems we were on our way to a funeral.   Benita was there at the funeral home already supporting and giving food to another family.  Johnnie wanted her to go and he stayed at home alone to rest.  As we drove to the house, we cried, and consoled one another.  Johnnie Phillips had passed away while sleeping in his chair, watching TV, remote in hand, phone on his collar and his pet bird on his shoulder.  I was happy in sense that he knew the Lord and was ready to see Jesus.  He was right where he would want to be and Benita didn’t have to go through trying to save him.

James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Death is something we must all face.  It is a part of life.  We can deny the possibilities all we want, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  The Word tells us our life is just a mist in the air, such a short time compared to eternity.  Eternity is what we live for while we are here on earth.  We must plan in the next few days a funeral.  We must try to compile everything that has happened in this mans life in his eulogy.  How can we even begin to write how great this man was or the affects he had on people, the difference he made in the lives he was around?  Have you ever thought about what people would write about you at your funeral? 

Johnnie was the first EMT in our county and help save many lives.  He was also chief firefighter for many years.  He and Benita owned a small mom and pop grocery store for over thirty years and knowing everyone in the community.  If you ever wanted anything, they were the first to give it to you.  They were the central station of knowledge, happenings, direction, gas, hardware and just plain straightforward advice.  They have made many memories in our county.  I have known them for the last twenty-eight years.  My in-laws have been respected people and a big part of our family.  Johnnie was a wonderful father and husband and will greatly be missed.  As Johnnie skips down the streets of gold, he probably is asking people how they feel and looking for his cane to aggravate them with a gestured poke.  I smile and we have peace, for he is in a much better place than we. Life is just a vapor, treasure it, make the best of it by giving to others and plan your eternity that is what we live for.  My Father-in-law left a note of light in the midst of darkness and he paved a way for all of us to give to others, this is his legacy.  


12 thoughts on “Light, Vapor, Legacy: A Tribute to Johnnie Phillips”

  1. Melissa, as I read everyday what you have written ,I seem at times as I feel alot of it is about my life or someone I know. Everyday it is wonderful . I just wanted to let you know that your words have touched me. But Johnnies has broken my heart! He was and always will be so awesome in my heart ! H e had a way of touching people ( not only with his walking stick LOL!! ) But with his words. You are so lucky to have such great in-laws. We are praying for you guys! we love you all so much and miss you !!

  2. This is so beautiful. I had loved him so in just the short time I knew him. I will miss kissing his beautiful face. …Go have a blast Bro. Johnny. You have earned it!

  3. This was so touching. Jonnie will be greatly missed by all of us. I can picture him skipping along the streets of gold. Also laughing and a lil poke here and there. When I picture this wonderful scene peace comes over me. We will be praying for the Phillips family.

  4. I don’t even have the words to say what that man meant to me and my family. Benita and him has blessed us so much!!! We all loved him dearly!!! The kids couldn’t get enough of him and Benita both. We lost a great treasure here on Earth!!! And yes, I will miss the kind poke with the cane his always gave!!!

  5. Mellissa,my heart truly aches for each one,as he skipping down the streets of gold i willalways remember being around him knowing the love he had for each of us . I willmiss him and feel so blessed to call him my friend I will hold his memories to my heart. God Bless each of you.

  6. Melissa, As i sat here and read this tear stream down my face. You could not have said it any better. Your words are right on. I’ll always remember the cane and his poke. His sweet comments he made as he ventured around the church. He will be sadly missed by sooo many. I’ll always remember “If your car is dirty you have on dirty underware”… LOL I love you all if I can do anything let me know??

  7. I was saddened and happy to hear about Johnnie. Sad because he was such a huge part of life in a positive way and happy because I know he is in heaven joking with my dad. Here is one story of how he lived life. 36 years ago, my brother Glenn was in a life threatening accident. After the accident, I lived with Johnnie, Benita, Amy and Jeff for a month so my parents could stay at the hospital. I didn’t think anything of it because it felt so normal…… like everyone took in kids on a moment’s notice within giving it a second thought. I still get a hug everytime I see him. I know he will be greatly missed.

  8. Beautiful words sis! I am really going to miss him, and of course his pokes with the cane. I may have only known him a couple of years, but sitting in the hospital with him last year, I think he probably told me his whole life story in 2 hours. I loved this man, feels like I’d know him a lot longer! He was such a blessing to me! Your whole family is! My love and prayers are with you!

  9. Again and again I cry every time I read this blog, and the comments. I thank all of you for your kind words. I smile and know there are people who care.

  10. Kim made a comment about your link:

    “Melissa – that was awe inspiring and beautiful. Like Tim said, it does good for us to remember what it is really all about here on earth during this tiny portion of our lives. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.”

  11. Tim made a comment about your link:

    “Thanks Melissa for that little blurb. It gave me comfort and knowing about the better place that we all strive for. I know I will be there, see you there too…”

  12. Johnnie Phillips is a man whose memory will be forever etched in my heart. If anything I could always be assured that he would tell me straight forward how he felt something. He always offered me sound advice. Anything concerning God, cleaning cars, taxes, running a business, how to live peaceably with my wife(hahah) and everything in between. I’ll never forget when he told me one day in his shop, as we where cleaning my truck(I had worked all night and stopped there on my way home, I’d been there about 6 hours, but he wouldn’t let me go home til it was done)haha! But he said, “Kevin a man is only as good as his doghouse, and this is my doghouse. You need to make sure you always a good doghouse”. One day in the Barber Shop I wasn’t very busy, so after I cut his hair he stayed there for about 3 hours and talked. Everytime someone would come in he’d tell them”I’ve been tryin to keep him awake so he’ll do a good job on your hair. I don’t want him to do to you what he done to me!” It was my great pleasure to know Johnnie Phillips. And like you’d said many times to me before,”If I don’t see you again, I’ll see you on the other side”.

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