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In "Living" Memory, my friend Jon

A grateful Friday to you, my friend :)

This is a tribute to a friend who is still here with us today.

I have a very near and dear friend named Jon. Jon is a sweet 84 year old man who lives down the road from our house. When Jon moved into our neighborhood he took a drive around the block and came across my handyman truck. He had a number of "I just moved in" handyman needs and contacted me to help him.

Jon and his wife Paulette moved from Flagstaff to the Surprise area to be closer to the medical facilities. When I met them, Paulette was in a wheelchair recovering from a hip replacement. Jon was the go to person at home to take care of her; at 80 years old no-less.

I still vividly remember meeting them for the first time. I recall him curiously following me around from place to place as I hung their artwork throughout their home. I was only 10 months into my handyman life and was still mastering the art of having a conversation while simultaneously doing math in my head so I could correctly hang artwork... simultaneously...

would that be called "simultaneously thrice"?! hahah!

No one likes to put multiple holes in the wall - especially when the paying customer is interestingly paying attention...

It was a controlled level of stress - but I pulled it off! :)

We hit it off well enough that before I parted, Paulette encouraged Jon to share some of his published books with me; to which he gave me two copies.

*sidenote: when I talk about self publishing my GratefulMan books, it's Jon who's guided me on how/where to go. :)

Jon Monsen Ph.D. Professional Engineer

Jon is a bonafide Dr of plumbing/gas control valves. High level engineering shit right there! When I knew what he did I couldn't help but share with him my life as a water feature craftsman and how sucky it was to learn the mechanics of fluid dynamics out of my garage... all by myself!!

It wasn't too long afterwards that he shared his email address with me...

and in response... well... I started sharing my weekly picture emails with a buddy. :)

Four years last week and approximately 1,860 emails later, he's become a near and dear friend of mine.

Crazy as I read "Weekly Picture 140"... today's post marks #325. For the last four years, which has been the hardest, most challenging, and most growth in all of my years, my buddy Jon has followed the progress of our life each Friday through my GratefulMan weekly picture posts.

And with that, I too have wonderfully been brought into his life. :)

Every Friday, every other Friday, Jon will reach out with some anecdotal comment of appreciation regarding my blog posts.

In one of my posts he was incredibly moved by my choice of weekly pictures "Hell'a cold bro"

A picture courtesy of a friend of mine from when I designed hospitals for a living.

So as a random gesture of thanks for being awesome, I had it printed as a framed canvas and surprised both of them. Today it's the first piece of art you see walking through their hallway. :)

As it is with anything in life, we only have so much sand in our hourglass. In early May of 2022, Miss Paulette would pass away. For what time I got to spend time with her while helping the both of them, I really appreciated those opportunities.

Jon and Paulette had been married for approximately 60 years and have no children, or close living family. While Paulette was in special care, Jon would rely on me to take care of their only children, their kitties.

Shortly after Paulette passed, I came to Jon's house to deliver their mail. He had gone through the home and hung up a number of Paulette's stitch art along with having had pictures framed of their life together.

Just below the Hell'a cold bro picture, he fills the table below with memorable moments of their life.

Jon and his attention to detail...

*A picture of Paulette sleeping with one of the kitties, having fallen asleep while reading... the book right to the left.

*A picture and matching coffee mug from their wedding day. Apparently Paulette was under 18 when they married. That meant her Dad had to sign papers over to Jon giving him "legal rights".

*And also, since the first Christmas they moved into their home, I handmade a "home's first Christmas ornament" and it's been placed in the open ever since.

Since Paulette's passing, I've become closer to my friend Jon. I'm happy to report that my buddy still has sand left in his hourglass. The brilliant and humble man stays busy by writing complicated information about control valves for a trade journal he's affiliated with.

In a playful moment of poking at how he stumbled into becoming a Ph.D. Engineer - a way cool story btw! He shared a narrative from his childhood. Of all the emails I got from him, this one really stuck with me as an all time favorite and sheds a light on the quiet man :)


I guess I was born to be an engineer. It didn’t hurt that my dad (who was a professional photographer) had been interested in amateur radio when he was younger. His ‘Ham” license expired during the depression when he didn’t have the few dollars that it cost to renew the license.

My start was then I was probably ten or twelve I discovered boxes of what we now call “electronic” components. Apparently, when I was too young to remember, Dad (everyone including us children) knew him as “Dalla” had a pinball machine which he had dismantled, but saved all the electrical parts (pushbuttons, lights, switches and so on) in boxes in the garage. When I found these components, I was immediately fascinated by them. Dalla showed me how to wire these together and how to wire batteries in series.

One day when Dalla came home from work he had a small short wave radio which would receive the “Ham” bands and I was hooked. I wanted to be a “Ham” radio operator so I could talk to all these people. By the time I was 14 I had learned the Morse code and passed the theory test for a “Ham” amateur radio license. Dalla managed to squeeze out enough money to get me a simple transmitter to go along with the short-wave receiver.

Here I am at 14.

There are duplicates of the receiver and transmitter in my office.

One day Dalla got a friend of his to show us the inside of one of the local AM radio stations, and I immediately decided that I wanted to work in a radio station. By the time I was 20 (just before Paulette and I got married) I had a first-class radiotelephone operator license and a job at a Spanish language radio station in Pasadena Calif. Running the transmitter and studio. Things went great for 3 or 4 years and then I got drafted into the Army and sent to the Panama Canal Zone. I ended up with an office job as the assistant to a Major. Our job was testing new military equipment to see how it worked in the tropics. I did half of Major Noah’s work and made him look good. He saw to it that a year and a half after entering the Army I was an E5. Also it didn’t hurt that I had fixed the Colonel’s TV set! Toward the end of my time there I asked Major Noah if he thought I should re-enlist. His answer was: “you’d be a damn fool!” (For Major Noah it was a good deal. He later retired as a Lieutenant General.)

When I got home from the Canal Zone I was given a job by the former chief engineer at the Pasadena radio station at a company he was then working for that made metal detectors and related electronic devices. (You will see some of the results of my work product in the living room.)

The most important thing I learned in the Army and that job at the metal detector factory was that I should go to college, which, with the help of the GI bill, I was able to do. (People look down their noses at California because it is expensive to live there. However, it was very convenient that college, for all practical purposes, is free (or at least was when I lived there).

And now, I’m an Engineer which suits me just fine! That’s what I was born to be.


Although 84, he's still up on technology :)

At random the children at home invade his space. Like me, Jon's a-cat-dude. So we will send pictures to and from, about our cats.

In response to one of my blog posts:

or a random text between each other :)

Since the first of the year Jon's health has become complicated and has had a couple scares... Being that he doesn't have any family to rely on, it was important to me, to us, that he be okay.

For north of a year now, as a courtesy to his health and physical condition, I have been to his house every day to take care of the kitty box. I have since handed that responsibility off to Tristan to help our friend out.

Due to the random complications I kindly asked him that on each day he send me an email checking in. Being a disciplined Ph.D. engineer, he's done a bang up job!

*snapshot from January - October: Good morning check-ins.

As our relationship has rooted deeply as friends and unrelated family, the sweet man has asked that I be the point of contact to take care of his estate when the sand runs out. Having started out as a neighborly handyman, to earn the level of trust with such a person, to be asked to help when things are at their most sideways - man... truly brings a tear to my eyes. *I'm welled up and sniffy as I write this. I've been showing up every Friday since 2017... sometimes Saturday, and as of recently, Sunday (thanks Warren). I have shared so much of my life with many who have trusted me with their contact info. To my overwhelming surprise, through an act of vulnerable transparency I have watered relationships at an authentically deep level. I have also written grieving gut wrenching moments of family and friends whom I've loved who have left this world. My dear friend Jon is still here, still here with his whit's no-less. :) As the sand thins within the hourglass of our lives, it was important to me that my sweet friend know how important he's become in my life. It's important to know the impact he's had on me at the true deepest of treasure I have for the memories we've created as buddies. I am beyond grateful that I took the risk to include him within my weekly thoughts - to which has blossomed into a friendship that will live on through these words until my hourglass runs dry. Until the final grain of sand slides down the coke point of the transparent cylinder, having been pulled by the inevitable gravity of reality and circumstance of life, my friend will know how special he's become in my life. In "living" memory, my friend, Jon. Have a grateful weekend!

For my radio friend!

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