Funerals are poetically beautiful in a way. Aside from the pain and loss that the family, friends, and loved ones are experiencing … those that gather reflect on the life that was lost with joy and maybe even laughter. While in the presence of the lost loved one, we mourn, and despite the BS, stress or struggle you’re dealing with personally, it is often all put aside for a few short hours, and the true meaning of life is put in perspective.
Today a great man I knew was laid to rest, and the world is a little darker without his light. I would not be here and do what I do without his inspiration.
I met him in 1980 and became a part of a group of teenagers that volunteered as a unit — an all-teenage first aid team that provided medical care for sporting events and rodeos in our community.
I became the youngest EMT in the state of Texas at 13. I went on to become a CPR instructor and taught countless classes and even taught my classmates in my advanced biology class the life skills of BLS/CPR.
All skills I learned in the Bishop First Aid Team, which my mentor started. I am one of, I believe, six physicians that came from his inspiration.
There have been countless more EMTs, paramedics, and HALO flight nurses, firefighters, and medical team members because of his guidance. He was a great man that opened his doors to a group of young kids that many would have dismissed. We have gone on and saved countless lives because of him.
It should never be underestimated the ripple effect one good person can have on the world.
Pop was the inspiration of four generations of first responders, servicemen, and women, nurses, and doctors — myself included. We all have gone on to inspire and motivate the next round of youths, including my son and daughter, who, with a little luck, will continue the cycle helping those who need it and who will hopefully continue working hard to make the world just a little brighter.
Not bad for a quiet, humble, God-loving man from some no-name Texas town in the middle of nowhere.
Pop, I’m so sad that you’re gone and that I wasn’t able to say goodbye. But I know you’re in a much better place with your loving wife. So it’s with a full heart I just want to say I love you, Pop, and thank you for everything!
Rest easy, Pop. You deserve it.
Maria Perez-Johnson is a pediatrician.
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