Many of you may remember Jun as the Postmaster of the Portsmouth and Wheelersburg post offices. Like many of our hospice patients, Jun had cancer long before being diagnosed. He’d mysteriously lost forty pounds, and when Wayne, a physician friend, became aware, he immediately whisked Jun into extensive consultation and evaluation. Jun’s wife, Pat, explained, “When Jun was diagnosed he was full of cancer and was given only three weeks to live.” But Jun and Pat’s story isn’t a tragedy, it’s a romance, an epoch of sorts.
Jun grew up with his buddies in an area called “The Terminals.” He enlisted in the armed services at age sixteen and was already in Japan when the Korean Conflict erupted; therefore he was one of the first deployed. His enlistment was extended by two years and he was discharged home at the age of twenty-one.
Jun and Pat met on a blind date. Bud, a friend, badgered Pat into going to the “Jhonda Lou” drive-in theatre. Pat explained, “Bud told me I owed him one so I said, ‘Okay!’. Jun and I sat in the front seat of the car. I always sat on one of my legs; and when I pushed my left hand down on the seat to change positions I put my hand on Jun’s. When I did, he jumped out of the car and went to the concession stand. He didn’t return until the end of the movie. All we said the entire night was ‘hi’ and ‘bye’. That was on May 13th, 1952. I didn’t find out until after Jun died that he bought my engagement ring on May 14th. ”
I only knew Jun for a short time, but his example has left an indelible impression upon me. Pat talked about how much her mother loved Jun: “She loved Jun more than anything in this world. Mom lived with us for seven years and Jun would carry mom from the bedroom to the couch every morning and then back every night. He told her that as long as he was around that she would never have to go to a nursing home. When she didn’t recognize anyone else, she still recognized Jun. She would look up and say, ‘Hi June’. He treated her so good.”
Pat testified, “Jun was always doing things for people. There were three old maids who lived in the neighborhood and he did everything for them. He cut their grass, he put in a bathroom for one of them and painted the house for another. He was always doing something for somebody, but you’d never know it. I had to be careful what I said. If I said I wanted something, or liked something, he would remember, and that is exactly what I’d get. When we bought our house I told Jun I didn’t like the bright yellow color; that I always liked pink. I don’t know how he did it, but when I got home from work the next day the house was painted pink, and it’s been pink ever since. Jun has been a hero to me and our son Jeff, and he still is. He’s always been there for us. He’s been there for my family and his family.”
I’m afraid our society has the wrong idea about what a hero is. We applaud and idolize celebrities and athletes engaged in self-gratifying, self-exalting activities. In my opinion, a true hero is one who lays down his life for the good of another, who doesn’t “sound a trumpet,” who doesn’t let his left hand know what his right hand is doing (Matthew 6:1-4). Jean-Paul Richter (1763-1826), German humorist, wrote: “The grandest of heroic deeds are those which are performed within four walls and in domestic privacy.”
Steve Camp, contemporary Christian artist, in his song, “Where are the Heroes Now?”, refers to the faithful saints who have gone before us and challenges us to follow their examples: “These men are gone; we’re here to carry on…But, where are the heroes now…Who will step out from the crowd and be strong enough to lead? Who’ll teach the children, who’ll show them how? O I’m asking you, where are the heroes now.”
“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” (Matthew 23:12).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.