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I never see an old shoeshine box that I do not think of my father.

I do not eat a bite of macaroni and cheese without remembering my Aunt Nell, who made macaroni and cheese against which all others are judged.

When people die, they don’t really die. We all have the assurance of eternal life. But they also leave part of themselves behind.

We call them memories.

So when we hear a train whistle in the night. Or the thump of an old baseball mitt. Or smell a familiar perfume, that person is with us again.

And so it is with Johnny

There was his megaphone, the one he will take with him to that big pep rally up in heaven. There was the familiar way he walked, the way he talked. The way he grinned. The way he struggled to do the things we take for granted but never complained.

I will never chew another piece of bubble gum that I will not think of Johnny. It was how we were introduced at a Southwest basketball game many years ago.

I am proud to have called him a friend. I was glad to be able to honor him by telling his story in the newspaper over the years.

And the best way I could think of to honor Johnny today was to go out and get 380 pieces of bubble gum, ask each of you to take one in Johnny’s memory.

We are so blessed he was part of our lives.

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