John Paul Federico passed away Friday after being sick for quite some time. For those of you who didn’t know John Paul, he was a classmate, and a friend of mine who had special needs. He came from an amazing family that, no doubt, was a huge part in John Paul becoming such a great man. I feel a great loss right now, but, (and I know it’s cliché to say) as long as we have our memories of JP he won’t ever really be gone.
It can be said that John Paul was arguably the most liked person in the entire city of Grand Forks. He was the kindest man I think I’ve ever known, and it wasn’t just because of his handicap, he had a genuinely gentle and loving soul. I feel very strongly had John Paul been born with all the advantages you and I have, I would still be writing these same things about him… he was truly a beautiful person.
One thing that always amazed me about JP was his incredible memory. He could recount things we had done in high School together that even I could no longer remember. Anytime I saw him, he’d say Hi, give me a hug, and ask how I was doing, and how my family was, then he’d ask if I am still living at the coast or wherever it was I had last told him I was living (He always got it right no matter how much time had past). When we finished talking he’d remind me to say hi to my family for him and carry on his way.
Shortly after I moved back to Grand Forks JP saw me and asked if I was still in Vancouver and I told him I had moved back here now. His eyes got wide and asked ‘Really?... that’s great Gregg!’ and then gave me a huge hug. I was extremely touched at how happy he was to have me back.
I work in the Boundary Museum where John Paul volunteered for well over 15 years and was loved by everyone who had ever worked here. John Paul cleaned the Museum every week and was a hard working person who could always be counted on to do a good Job in every room of our building….well, every room except for one. John Paul steadfastly refused to enter the women’s washroom to clean it. As John Paul said, he wasn’t a woman so he was NOT allowed to go in there!! You’ve got to appreciate a man who stands by his convictions!
The last time I saw John Paul was at his house not very long ago. He was very sick, jaundiced, tired, in a lot of pain, and looked so incredibly small. But all of those things didn’t keep his smile from beaming and his attitude upbeat and positive. I sat next to John Paul as he and his mom talked about an incident where he had got into a little trouble in school one day when someone remarked
‘I bet Gregg got in a lot of trouble in school too… right John Paul?”
John Paul shook his head and said
‘Nope, Gregg was always a good boy”.
As he said that, John Paul reached over, patted my leg, looked at me and smiled. That was one of the greatest compliments I will ever receive in my entire life and I certainly won’t forget that smile he gave me for as long as I live.
As I said earlier, John Paul is not really gone, he left behind far too much kindness, happiness, and love. And if you think of John Paul you will be filled with that kindness, happiness and love. And because John Paul can still make us feel that way without actually being here, is why he will never truly be gone.