December 2014
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Live as JoJo did

He didn’t want an obituary to be written about him.

I’m not surprised. He didn’t live his life in the spotlight.

I was witness to the beginning of their love.

We were in the eighth grade. There was a dance at the Parish Hall. Shonda and I sneaked out and walked around the block. She told me how she had a crush on an “older guy” — at our age, four years seemed a lot older. As we walked around that night, JoJo Martinez was cruising town in his old pickup truck. He pulled over and talked to us.

JoJo and Shonda raised three awesome children — Michael, Meagan and Mitch, and they were blessed with one grandson — Brody. His children and grandson were his pride and joy. Shonda was the love of his life.

They would have celebrated 34 years of marriage in June. They had shared 36 years of love when he passed away last week.

Little did I know last week at the post office that it would be the last time JoJo would open the door for me and flash his big smile at me. His eyes danced and sparkled as he spoke.

He always smiled and waved at everyone he met. As a matter of fact, when I moved here in 1974, almost everyone waved at you on the street — even if they didn’t know you.

Nowadays as I drive to work, many people I pass don’t bother to wave. When I walk down the street, eyes are often averted. That wasn’t the case with JoJo — he’d look you in the eyes, smile, wave and speak to you. You knew you were important to him and that he cared.

He was always in an upbeat, joking mood — never seeming to have a bad day.

He lived life to the fullest.

Every day was a celebration for JoJo. He took time for friends. It could take him two hours to get out of the grocery store because he took time to speak to everyone he knew.

JoJo always lent a helping hand. It was a cold, miserable, snowy day when my sister lost her home to a fire, and he was there. In true JoJo style, he reached out to a friend and neighbor in their time of need.

Life can get busy. We rush through our days. We forget that time is fleeting and that those days are numbered.

As I write this on Wednesday, May 7, today would have been his 54th birthday.

I encourage you to live as JoJo did. Wave at people as you pass. Take time to smile. Hold the door for someone. Help your neighbor. Make time for your friends and family. Make the most of every single day and live life to the fullest.

Terri Lynn Oldham House

This story was posted on May 8, 2014.