Stories
Shared by Denise Valentin on January 12, 2018

I met John back in 1985 and fell in love with him instantly.  He was 19 years old and I was 21.  We were so young and in those days, everyone hung out at the clubs and danced the night away.  Everyone loved him ... of course he was the cutest guy we had every seen and was very nice and caring to boot.  I even lived with him and his mom for a year.  When we split in 1989 I was crushed but it was obvious to the both of us that it wasn't  meant to be.  

John shared some wonderful things with me later on in our relationship ... horseback riding, hang gliding, rock climbing and riding in a glider plane.  He loved the outdoors. 

I did not know about his health getting so bad and am so glad he had friends and family to help him both physically, mentally and spiritually.  I did not know the John in the 2000's and wish I had.  

I am very sad that we stopped staying in touch.  There is nothing more heartbreaking to search for someone with the intent to find out how they are doing and find out they passed away.  I will love him always.   He will always be in my thoughts when I hear Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues.  


A Mother's Perspective

Shared by Doris Gracy on February 12, 2017

 
 

John and His Mother, Doris. 1990

(Shared first by Doris Gracy on 01/14/2017)

As John's mother, I would like the world to know of the profound love that John and I shared, that will live on in my heart forever. Even when he was a toddler, I still remember the day when I was sitting on the floor with him, and he walked over to me, hugged me, and said, " I uv ooh, Mutter. I 'ike oor bwoo eyes." Neither of us ever had to doubt that love.

Another special moment I remember was many years later when I had surgery for colon cancer. He was holding my hand when I went into the operating room. And hours later, when I awoke in the recovery room, he was still holding my hand, as if he never had let go.

And through all the struggles he had to endure in life, he never let go of the strong bond between us. He was always there if I needed him. There was a real depth to our relationship, and a real depth to the spiritual values we shared that we so easily could discuss and ponder.

John had so many good qualities that I could write about--his brilliant mind, his creativity, his empathy and generosity, his kindness, and his witty remarks--but most of all, there was the love we shared. And even though there is now a deep, dark, empty hole in my heart, the love is still there, where it will remain forever.

The last time I saw John was on Christmas Day, when he came to have Christmas dinner with me. The last words he spoke to me on that day, after he hugged and kissed me goodbye, were, "I love you, Mamma," a name he called me when he was feeling especially affectionate.

John's Speech at his Sister's Wedding. 1997

Shared by Doris Gracy on February 12, 2017

To find one’s  place in this world?

To find one’s calling?

To find one’s life passion?

Do we not all seek to find these things?

I say YES!; if not for anyone else, I say it is true for me!

Then, if so….and we find  “THE” person we love,

Do we not all seek to find someone with whom to share this inner calling?

In truth, after a long and weary search,  we may find our Love.

I have in my life!

I indeed have found it in my life!

One of the most bold  and courageous steps  you can make in this life is this!

To intertwine two lives together in LOVE!

To make music you need to create a chord!

We all search for the perfect chord, a lost chord…..

This Chord is,  a perfect combination of notes….

A chord, nothing on its own, but.

Combine with love, and it is the most majestic symphony of all!

In this life you can listen to this concert  on your own,  if you so choose!--

“The Concert Of Life”

Pleasing to the ear…

Pleasing to the eye…

Pleasing to the mind…

Pleasing to the heart…

Pleasing to the soul…

But, if you hear life’s rich song and find yourself alone,

You will pray for deliverance from this kind of solitude.

Because in Love you wish only to SHARE…

In love, you only wish to give the beauty you find in life to another.

For, if you can’t give of yourself and the beauty you find,  you  will  feel incomplete

When you share your entire being with another,

To be able to share all of this in total love.

All beauty is for NOT unless you can give of yourself.

This total love is to be able to  grasp the hand of God!

In this holy union,  when two people hold  God’s hand as one,

It creates more than the two notes of the chord.The chord becomes one and is harmonious with life’s symphony.

We learn more than  just what is an individual--

We learn the greater lesson….

We learn how to become students….

We learn how to become teachers….

We learn how to become closer to the spirit….

We learn what our place in the world truly is…We learn our calling…

We find our passion….

We find the lost chord—LOVE.

These are my  thoughts as far as a comparatively small  part of life goes; I give them to my Sister  and to her new Husband.  I pondered how to express my feelings to my Sister  over the last few months--it  somehow echoed the many years in which I never expressed all of my love to her, because of  youth and life’s little circumstances.   SO NOW THAT I SHALL HAVE ALL HER ATTENTION ON THIS THE MOST IMPORTANT  DAY OF HER LIFE!!!!,  I would like to take this opportunity to DECLARE AND EXPRESS my great admiration of her; my heart could not contain anymore love for her; my heart would surely burst should I love her anymore. And it is my solemn wish that you take all the love that I have tried to place in these words I have and place it in both of your hearts.  This advice I give to my new brother and to my little sister!

I am sad today for I have lost my little sister.

I am glad today for my sister  has grown up.

I am glad today for I have a new brother.

I am glad today for now I may become an Uncle.

I am glad today for now I can always offer my help.

I am glad today for my sister and her new husband.

My heart has become light and roams the sky--

It soars like the eagle for your happiness.

I love you, Jenny. Fabio.

The Story of John's Lyme Disease

Shared by Doris Gracy on February 9, 2017
(Shared first by Doris Gracy on 01/16/2017)

I think most of you know that John has had Lyme Disease for most of his life. He contracted the disease when he was 11 years old, when they didn't really know how to diagnose it, and therefore it was never treated properly. In fact, it was diagnosed as Juvenal Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), and he was treated with all sorts of injections of heavy-duty drugs. He often had to attend school on crutches. If he told people he had arthritis, they would laugh and tell him that only old people had arthritis. He would have been a hero if he had hurt it during a soccer game--but he could never even participate in sports because of his infirmity.

Since I have always worked in a laboratory, I had saved blood (serum)  and synovial fluid samples from John from the first day of his illness, and had them stored in the deep-freeze of the laboratory where I was working. So about 10 years later when I became suspicious that John really had Lyme Disease--and not JRA--I contacted a specialist in Connecticut and had his early samples tested---and they were all positive. All from Day One. The doctor I talked to was most sympathetic, and suggested a month-long antibiotic treatment at that time, which we did, with not much relief.

Still later, as John continued to have even more symptoms throughout his body--painful joints, headaches, extreme and debilitating fatigue, trouble concentrating (just to name a few)--I drove him to NY to see another doctor, a neurologist who specialized in Lyme. After a spinal tap and other tests, it was confirmed that the organism (Borelia) had penetrated the central nervous system--the brain. John was then subjected to another round of IV antibiotics--and still with very little success. One day John would seem to function normally--the next day he hardly had the energy to walk to the shower.

And even later, around 2000, I got John into a study at the NIH (National Institutes of Health), where I was working at the time. Again, after testing all they knew to test, he was again prescribed two months of IV antibiotics, and still again, with no relief. NIH is probably the most prestigious research center in the country, but they released John from the study, admitting they didn't know what else to do.

It seems there are obviously other factors aside from the Borelia organism itself that causes all these late symptoms, such as some sort of autoimmunity and/or concurrent infections that most doctors don't understand or even look for. Perhaps the cruelest part is that Lyme patients are often called hypochondriacs, or told it is all in their head. But I know different. I know that John was seldom without pain. All over. And was always completely exhausted after his shows. I know, because he often would come to my home to spend the rest of the night with me after his shows in Baltimore. He was here after his Winter Soltice show with Telesma, just before Christmas. We sat on the couch together at 2:30 in the morning eating Graham Crackers and drinking milk. Then he said, "OK, I have to get some sleep now, I'm running down." And he would always go to sleep listening to some spiritual audio.

John had so much to give the world! But I think he was worn out, physically, mentally, and also financially. It seems the most creative and talented musicians and artists make the least money, struggling as did the Impressionists Artists of the 19th Century. He told me recently he didn't know how much longer he could continue with this. It was really taking its toll. (For the complete story, check under the tab "His Life.)

John was such a beautiful soul, and no one can even imagine how much I miss him now. John, I hope you can still feel my love, because no one ever loved you more than I still do.

"Mamma"

John the Prankster--by his mom

Shared by Doris Gracy on January 28, 2017

John, despite his problems, always had a great sense of humor. One night when his sister, Jenny was still living at home with me and John had moved out, I had a telephone call. 

"I'm trying to get in touch with Miss Jennifer Gracy," a male voice said, sounding very official. 

I replied, very business-like: "She's not here right now. Would you like to leave a message?"

"Yes," he answered. "This is the Maryland State Lottery. Could you have her call us, please. She has just won a large sum of money. Let me give you our number."

"Of course. Let me get a pen and paper."

He waited, then gave me the number, which I carefully wrote down. And we hung up.

When Jenny got home I ran to her excitedly with the number, and told her she had just won the lottery.

Jenny took one look at the number and said. "Mom! This is John's number!"

Not only had I not recognized my own son's voice, but didn't even recognize his number, which I easily could repeat by heart. John had a big laugh over that. 

not a complete stranger

Shared by Paul Munro on January 18, 2017

I am not a complete stranger to John's story sorry to say. Based on what I have read about John, we very much walked the same path!
I have had Lyme, as long as I can remember, I like John have taken every  possible treatment available conventional and nonconventional. I have also had the support from a loving family and friends that never doubted my diagnosis. Not everyone with Lyme is that fortunate!!

I like John, was also a member of a twelve step program, July 4 of this year I celebrated Thirty years of sobriety.  So like John, I had a spiritual journey, that at times was severely strained by the Lyme disease. I like John, found great joy in helping other people!  But,I get so debilitated, I can barely  help myself, and it is very hard to believe that the God that got me sober, would put any human being through  this hell!! 

But, like I have told guy's over the years, I got one miracle in my life, and that was the miracle of my sobriety! How many miracles do you get in life? I don't have that answer, but I do know the pain that Lyme disease has put into guy's like John, and I know it would be nothing less then a miracle to undo this evil disease.

I think you are right  about John being worn out, because I feel the exact same way! He fought the fight, the toughest fight we have ever had, I wish I couild of talked to him, we had some much in common! I hope I get to meet him on the other side ! There JUST has to be a special place for guy's like John!!

Peace be with you and your family!  

John the Fisherman

Shared by Burke Stoughton on January 17, 2017

John was a very young boy when I first met him, back in 1977. His mother, Doris, was a co-worker of mine at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, MD. While at work, she had heard a friend of mine, Dan, and I constantly talking about fishing, camping, hunting, etc. One day after such a conversation she had asked me if I could include her son John, in some of our trips, so he could learn the outdoors. I was hesitant, at first; after all, here I was ,at age 30 and he was a young lad of 11. My friends and I drank beer and whiskey around the camp fire, told typical "man" stories, talked (uh, swore) like Sailors, etc., and so my hesitancy was understandable. Doris just asked us to take it easy on him but to teach him what we knew of the woods and of the streams.

The hesitancy, I had, however, quickly evaporated after being introduced to John, ...he was a wonderful kid, learned quickly, listened to advice, pulled his weight around the camp and quickly became "one of the guys." He was just a pleasure to be around. WE did "take it easy" on him, with the language and "Man" stories, for a few years anyway and later, in life, he became more "acclimated."

The first trip we took was to a wilderness area, of Pennsylvania, to a camp on a stream called Hammersley Fork, in Potter County. John was overcome with the immensity of the place...the woods and mountains seemed to be infinite, the total lack of civilazation and the crystal clear water of the "Fork," were mesmerizing, to him. The solitude and the quiet was "deafening." After catching his first Native Brook Trout, John was more hooked on fishing then the fish was. Over the next few years he accompanied me fishing on numerous different streams, rivers and lakes and these excursions started his life long love affair with the outdoors.

Over the years, I found him to be exceedingly intelligent, resourceful, inventive, very, very personable and one of the most articulate people I ever met.  (He could easily explain himself on complex ideas and put them in simple terms). He was liked by just about everyone who ever met him and he made friends quickly. He knew computers inside and out, could build his own Bass Boat out of a Kayak (See photo) and he could imagine a solution for just about any problem, which arose...Ask him a question and, it was rare , if he did not immediately know the answer, but he'd look it up and learn about it and you soon had your answer.

In short time, he had become like a son to me...the adventures accumulated, the time passed quickly and the years flew by. He had acquired Lyme Disease on one of our sojourns, to a stream somewhere and it had been misdiagnosed. This was because, in those days, Lyme was not on the medical radar. In later life, on some days, the effects of it were intolerable. But he bore this pain with dignity and character and never looked back; always looking to the next thing to learn, problem to solve or adventure to be had. He told me, a number of years ago that the Lyme bothered him greatly and some days it was debilitating to even get out of bed. He had tried just about every thing medical science had to offer in search of a cure, but to no avail. The affliction soon started to drag him down and his personable and affable self changed. People told me they noticed changes in John and they were concerned. He told me that he could not let it rule his life; but the disease progress was slow, relentless and inexorable. In constant pain he continued his fight but this condition won in the end...However, on most days he still had and retained his love for the outdoors.

Now, on this sad and mournful day, we all have the abysmal, appalling and dreadful sad news, of his passing, and it has hit me like a brick in the face. Words failed me and emotional was overwhelming...but the thoughts are there with him and his family and will be there forever and I am compelled to record them here. WE do remember the good in his life, the camaraderie, the happy go lucky kid no one could say any thing bad about. We remember the times he was there for any friend who had the need of good company and the laughter he provided, because there was plenty of it and he made people feel good to be around him.  In short, John touched a myriad of lives in a very positive and happy way.

I am now assuming that he is enjoying a fine day on the Trout stream or fishing for Bass on the Lake or, somewhere, by the heavenly sea shore he will be found seeking Bluefish and Redfish. The knowledge that I'll some day get to fish with him again, will sustain me for the rest of my life. With the heartbreak, of your passing, we miss you greatly buddy; I will see you soon enough!!! Hey...Look for a good spot to show me!  He will be young at heart forever!

Burke Stoughton
Youngstown, FL
US Navy (Ret.)

Light at the end of the tunnel

Shared by Doris Gracy on January 15, 2017

From John's Mom:

John gave me this painting he did for one of my birthdays. I asked him the meaning he was thinking of as he painted it, and he told me it could mean anything I could see in it, that it would mean different things for different people. To me, it always has represented the chaotic matrix of life, and finally the light as we find our way through that chaos--at the end of the tunnel. To John, I think it meant the light he would never find in this world. And I hope he has found it now, and finally can be at peace.

 

 

Fondest Memory

Shared by Laura Simone on January 14, 2017

I, like so many, first met John at festival. We were in Rock Camp WV 4 years ago (I think) and somewhat out of our element as we've not worked this fest before, that and we were the geriatrics of the bunch.He and Alan were comforting and socialable and my son and I enjoyed their company in brief spurts as we'd check in with each other during breaks.

We'd look for him at festivals to follow, enjoying his visits to the store and his visulal works, never really getting into in depth conversation.
My first opportunity to really get to know him was during a kayak trip in WV a year + later. He and his pimped out luxury liner of a kayak (hobie).

I was super nervous as our trip was on a stretch of the river I'd not paddled before ( I DON'T do white water). He assured me we were safe and I could rest at ease, and so I did. For hours we paddled . He shared so many adventerous stories . His stories I wished now I could have audio tapes of as I nearly pissed myself laughing the entire time . My face hurt by excursions end but the smile couldn't have been smacked off. What an interesting charecter!!! What a life!!! What a cool fellow!

Being out of shape and worn out after the 6th hour he noticed me lagging. Without hesitation he insisted, despite my stubborness, to tow me. Recognizing a rare gentlemanly offer, I accepted. He reached out his hand, pulled me in, held tight to my boat and dragged my tired ass the rest of the way!!!

What a guy!!! What an artist! What a kind loving soul. My boys and I will miss you and no doubt keep you with us at festival always!

Johns Song

Shared by Rick Cooper on January 14, 2017

I hope not to make this my story instead of John's story, but John and I were kindred spirits in many ways, its like my story was his story. We had alot of the same life history. I think by sharing how he saved me from myself will explain the kind of person he was.

John was my spiritual brother and best friend for many years. We had met in the rooms of AA in 2005. I thought to myself, wow!, he's a very intelligent arrogant prick-rebel person like me! He appeared to be searching for the same things i was, things like wisdom, truth, enlightenment and freedom from self disillusionment. Through the years I discovered he also loved fishing, kayaking, and just plane ole nature in all its forms and we shared many outings with friends. It's another story later to share to anyone that would like to know of the amazing adventures we shared together. There were many times we both confided and shared in both the painful and the ecstatic experiences we went through in life and in recovery.

 A few months later after we met, friends in AA said I should find a sponsor to help me get through what happens to people in recovery. I started asking around, but was reluctant and uncomfortable. It felt like to same feeling as asking a girl to the prom or something, or like asking," would you be my friend",in a Mr. Rogers sort of way.

It was in October 16th 2009 that I had a relapse from sobriety. My relationship with my fiance and not being able to find work during the job collapse in 2008 caused me to loose my way in sobriety. After having 21 months of sobriety I found myself drinking again. Drinking became again my miserable excuse to escape the bonds of painful and emotional pain. I will also mention drinking was also was my happy celebration time to. Addictions are so cunning and baffling John used to say.

I had consumed so much alcohol that day it was inevitable that I was heading towards a blackout. It was like a demon got the best of me. All of a sudden my panic,my insanity,my loathing,my self pity and unworthiness came back into being. The next thing I know I had my gun to my head. I remembered these details years later. I just hope I haven’t dramatized that event now.

My finance came home early that day only to find me in our bedroom with a gun to my head. She immediately had our neighbor call the police and then she called John. Next thing I remember John was asking me to, "put down the gun". The police were saying the same thing to but I did not really hear them at the time. Here I was I guess, a gun in one hand and John on the phone in the other, so fucked up! Then another voice from deep inside said the same thing that John had said ,and I immediately dropped the gun to the bed like a reflex i couldn't control.

I will share the rest sometime of what miracle happened, but this story is not about me, as this is about John's story and what kind of person he was. Its just I felt I should show the kind of person he was to me.

John was there at the jail to pick me up. He said , “think it might be good to go to a meeting, what do you think?” He always had this sense of humor at the worst of times that relieved the anxiety for many by that wit of his. He was so gifted with that kind of intelligence and compassion for people. Sometimes like John I wonder where the force really comes from. John also had a dark side with resentments and being confrontational as well, our other side we called it. A double edge sword, that could swing both ways like a pendulum in Plato's “Allegory Of The Cave”.

John “SUNTIGER” Gracy was; kind, arrogantly wit, over your head smart, passionate, caring, insightful, curious, creative, ignorant at times to himself and others, wise beyond norm, haunted, give the shirt off his back, PULL YOU OUT OF DROWNING WATERS WITH DISSREGARD TO HIS OWN SAFETY OR COMFORT,didn't have a malicious bone in his body, spiritual explorer and a believer in, “ONE LOVE!” BLESS BE LOVE WITH SUNLIGHT TO YOUR HEART BROTHER! YOU SAVED MY LIFE MY FRIEND. NOW I MUST CARRY THE MESSAGE ALONE WITHOUT YOU IN THIS WORLD. SEE YOU IN THE NEXT!

MY HEART HURTS AND IS BROKEN THAT I WASNT ON THAT PHONE NEXT TO YOUR EAR LIKE YOU WERE WITH ME MY BROTHER TO BE ABLE TO TELL YOU THOSE SAME WORDS U TOLD ME.

 

Johns Last Poem- JANUARY 9TH 2017

i feel so often like I am returning to Plato's cave, it's strange because the only reason one would return and speak would be Love. You know the Word so heaven sent .. but one runs into souls so reticent ..content to drift in what they know, the certainty of stagnation, the status quo. It all unfolds as Plato told, predictably and often so. Preaching to the unconverted in the mountains of suffering, no desire just present circumstance, the suffering inscribed on souls and foretold. I mean I've been here before and they have ground me asunder, I capitulated to the consensus reality, stayed in the formality of the ever rational modality. It makes no sense to return and tell what you know.. you just can't tell some what they are scared to seek. Perhaps I just need to channel these things into to lituragaloric for those who might seek it. No need ramming down some souls throats .. those who don't want to see have no need and abhor it. I've been here before after that crash.. at deaths door...deaths threshold and more, I thought all would sincerely wish to hear it but they sont and they fear it, the mistakes of this life are easy to clear .. there is no crushing in me what I have seen and been in, before they wore me down along the consensual trail. Crushed and belittled a charlatans rail .. the welcome opinion of most in the world blind to their souls and the rest of the world. So you don't want to know or be challenged to grow, take my word, chalice and grail. My word is Love like it or NOT. This magic will challenge simple and humble, seen or seen not..remember when you find it.. many have told you. Deaf ears are the currency of modernity, the curtain of certainty blindness of mind. I'll Shed my cloaks while you remain certain! I know nothing and everything, yet mind remains certain in consensus type flow! I'll keep pulling back curtain upon curtain and so goes! Preach to no one who wants not to know!

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