JOHN J. PRESTON
January 9, 1926 - December 4, 2010
On December 4, 2010, just a week ago today, John James Preston (my beloved “Johnny”) died. Thankfully, I was in the hospital, visiting him as I did every day from morning to night. As soon as they let visitors in (and often a little earlier), I was like a race horse darting out of the starting gate to get to his room.
By lunchtime, I had just fed John a cup of his favorite yogurt. There was a small cup of vanilla ice cream on the hospital lunch tray, so I served that to him next. He took in three spoons of ice cream, and then smiled and winked at me, but he could not take in the fourth spoonful of ice cream. Nurses and hospital medics, observing John’s distress on their monitors, rushed in and tried to revive him. One of them took me outside and stayed with me while they worked, but then a doctor came out and told me that they tried their best but it was all over. Of course, I am devastated and heart-broken because my Johnny was not only my beloved husband but my best friend, fellow traveler, soul-mate and protector. We did everything together and loved being together.
By being sick in the hospital and Rehab Centre for almost a month before he died, Johnny prepared me for being alone as best he could. Of course, nothing could have prepared me for the loss I feel, but I am comforted by so many happy memories over the years. We both loved Ireland and we both loved being in Ireland with each other. His last two trips were difficult for him but he kept smiling and he kept going with the aid of his walker and his wheel chair. He never complained.
John’s nephews Kevin Preston of Chester, NY and Rob Sabalis and Rob’s wife Ray from Alexandria, VA were with me throughout the funeral planning stages, and I never could have done it without them, or the supportive presence of John’s sister Kathleen from Davidson, NC, sister-in-law Bernice Preston from Hawley, PA, and other nieces and nephews – Anne Marie McDonald of Davidson, NC; Patricia Sabalis and her husband Tif Crowell of Underhill, VT; Rob Preston of East Northport, LI; and Kathy Preston and her husband Jim Hines of Massapequa Park, LI and their two little ones, Megan and James; John’s cousin Jeannie Keating from Somers, NY; and my sister, Mary Tunison who came from Ellington, CT.
They were all a great support, and we put together a funeral that John would have loved. The turn-out was really spectacular – relatives from near and far; neighbors and friends; former colleagues and friends from CIE Tours and Tourism Ireland; people who had traveled to Ireland with us on our group trips; and so many more.
St. Christopher’s Church in Red Hook was full, and we were blessed by the presence and participation of five of John’s treasured priest friends: Msgr. Robert Emmet Fagan from LI; Fr. Jim Dorr, C.M. from St. John’s University; Fr. Richard LaMorte of Marist College; Msgr. Charlie Coen, former pastor of St. Christopher’s and now of Greenville, NY; and Fr. Pat Buckley, St. Christopher’s new pastor. We all joined together to give John a great send-off in Irish style including a hymn played to the air of “Danny Boy.”
God Bless you, Johnny, and until we meet again: May the good Lord hold you in the palm of His Hand.
All my love,
Patricia (a/k/a “Patricee”)
December 11, 2010
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