It is a rainy dreary Wednesday outside my window this morning.  It looks cold.  The leaves are falling from the trees.  The color will soon be all on the ground and the branches barren and empty.  If this description were put into a feeling it could easily pass for a feeling of loneliness or despair.   Surely when the leaves are no longer on the trees there is a loss of color.

My world lost some color yesterday when I heard of the graduation of a facebook friend.  How strange that seems.  A stranger I never met became a good friend to me in social media and yesterday cancer won the physical battle though I know the Lord won the spiritual one.  John is in heaven sharing his stories with any who will listen.

When my ‘boyfriend’ arrived home last night he asked what was wrong as I seemed a bit somber.  I told him of John’s death. He complimented me on my compassion for someone I had never met.  I thought about this for a long time all evening and as I was falling asleep.

In the not so recent past much of our communication was done by letters not in person.  We have the letters of note written by famous people Hemingway, TS Eliot, Tolkien, Ronald Reagan or Barrett-Browning.  All these people communicated with letters.   My favorite of all regarding letters is “84 Charing Cross Road” about the relationship with Helene Hanff, a writer living in New York during WWII and FPD the manager of a London book store.  It is a delightful story and they never met yet had the most wonderful friendship sharing their family stories across the ocean.

On the best day this is what facebook can be and was for me with John.  I had no idea who this man was.  He asked me to be his friend.  He told me he liked the way I wrote about political topics.  He told me he thought I was quite clear and thoughtful in my responses to some heated arguments.  I looked him up as best I could and accepted his request to be my friend.  I had no idea who John W. Huffman was except a fellow conservative who voiced candid and clear opinions about political issues.  I discovered that John was an author and the jacket of one of his books listed his historical information.  I had no idea about much of this until this morning when I decided to write this tribute.  See for yourself.

About the Author

John W. Huffman was born 29 November, in Hemphill, Texas, attended elementary school in Pineland, Texas, junior high and high school in Jasper, Texas, and graduated summa cum laude from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He enlisted in the Army Airborne in 1966 and served two tours of combat in Vietnam, the first as a private, and subsequently a sergeant, with A/1/27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, in 1966-67, and the second as an officer/aviator with the 120th Aviation Company in 1972-73. He retired as a major in 1986 with three Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars, sixteen Air Medals, one Army Commendation Medal, two Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medals, and various other service and campaign ribbons. Upon leaving the Army, John launched a real estate sales and management company, owned and operated seven speedways in five states, created an automobile racing and sanctioning body, and developed three touring series. John has honorable mentions for two short stories, along with his six other novels: A Wayward Wind, a Regional Finalists in the General Fiction category of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; The Baron of Clayhill, a Finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Contest and a Finalists in the Popular Fiction category of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Book Awards; Tiger Woman, the First Place Winner in the Action-Adventure category of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; Above All, a Finalist in the Action-Adventure category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; America’s Diplomats, The Road To Attleboro, the First Place Winner in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Book Awards, and his recent release, Cold Hearts Burning. John has one other novel awaiting publication, Eyes of the Blind, and is currently working on When A Rebel Comes Home. John resides in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, with his wife Misty, and has three sons and four granddaughters.

I think I got to know, over the course of our friendship on facebook, more of the man than is listed above.   Those are the things he did. We who were his facebook friends got to know what he thought and felt.  He had over 3000 friends on facebook with 200+ following him regularly.  He was a rabid conservative willing to take on the most left leaning liberal out there with carefully placed nuanced words.  He was sharp, clever, kind ever ready with a joke or verbal smile.

He was supportive.  I told him I was writing a book .  I asked if he ever previewed first time authors. He sent me an email and said send it along.  Sadly I never sent it as I would have valued his opinion.

He loved his wife Misty, his Bride as he called her.  He would speak of her sweetly and lovingly.  He loved his granddaughters – his Princesses.  His page was filled with pictures of their visits.

He loved his home The Eagles Nest.  It sounded like a small farm as he described planting, harvesting and storing vegetables, cracking bags of black walnuts and cutting wood for the winter.  Not sure he ever stopped until cancer grabbed him and took him quickly.

He was very proud of his service in the military and his friends from that time.  Lots more pictures of all of these people were on his page as well.

I am certain the man we all knew on facebook had unhappiness in his life as we all do.  It was not evident from his posts.  He greeted everyday with joy that would sometimes help my down mood evaporate.  If he was anything other than kind it did not show up on facebook.  Nor does it now.

His loving Bride posted that she was with him when he passed yesterday morning.  That one post alone had 450 comments.  Today as yesterday his wall is filled with notes from his many followers and friends sharing stories and sadness at his move to heaven.  I believe he was a good man.  My world is a little less today knowing he will no longer be posting a “Good morning from the Blue Ridge”.  I will no longer be able to return “Morning from the top of the Delmarva”.

Strange isn’t it.  I never met the man face to face yet I believe I have lost a good friend.  I think John Donne said it best,

“…….any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Rest in Peace John W. Huffman, you will also be missed by we who never met you and call you Friend.