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Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Friend, John

Ward 5 Online was born on November 15, 2009 to very little notice. It was stark white with black writing and I would spend everyday scouring for things to post. Sometimes, I would include things that weren’t in Ward 5 just to fill the space.

Everyday, I would check my analytics to see how many people were reading my site, where they were coming from and what posts were the most popular. For a week, all categories were zero until the last week in November when I began to notice that one…one person was reading my website. I would post and immediately see a corresponding pageview within the hour. I was vindicated.

After a ResiStat meeting, I offered to email the presentation to whoever would like to read it. My one reader emailed me and asked for a copy. His name was John Cole and wrote me that he “loved my website.”

Before long, I would realize that John and I lived in the same neighborhood and he knew me as the girl who always walked past his house (who doesn’t?). BBQ’s, introductions to neighbors, holiday gift exchanges, and-of course-the Facebook friend approval would follow. He was there for me when my Father beat cancer and I was there for him when him and his beloved wife, Pam, lost her Mom in 2011. Soon after, they would sell their home and move to a Waltham townhome whose layout proved easier for John’s mobility issues.

We would talk Somerville politics and he instantly became someone that I confided in and complained to. He supported me when my character was assassinated on another website and sternly reminded me to “stop saying stupid shit” when I shot my mouth off during budget deliberations at City Hall two years ago.

John was so many things wrapped up into one person. He was a successful and accomplished musician, photographer, father, grandfather, brother, neighbor, and husband. He was a Vietnam Veteran (Air Force), frequented local businesses, hosted neighbors at all hours of the day in his backyard and was a passionate supporter of gay rights. He watched the Board of Aldermen meeting twice a month and would text me “I can see you” when I was in attendance.

One week ago, John suffered a massive heart attack that rendered him unresponsive. Despite attempts to revive him, scans would show no brain activity. His machines were turned off on Monday. He died soon thereafter. A piece of me left that day too and both are now gone forever.

I had my share of “moments” for the past few days. I have looked at his Facebook profile and even saved a couple of pictures of him to my iPhone. I walked down to Princeton Street and said a prayer. 

Today, I find myself being alright with John’s death, finding consolation in all the things that he taught me and in all the ways he changed my life. John believed in me even when I didn’t believe in me. I can still feel his hug, I can still hear his voice, and his encouragement in just the past three years we grew close will last me a lifetime.

Thanks, John.



Anonymous said...

I knew John and his wife Pam; nice people anyone would want for a neighbor.

Oh how he. and of course Pam, were "bothered" by the Max Pac demolition and construction where their property backed up to that site; the incompleted bike path and a tree line being the only separation from that site.

John, being disabled, and virtually house-bound, felt "captive" to all that was going on at that site; and actually not looking forward to when that site was going to be completed and maxed out with tenants and added traffic.

Gotta believe a consideration with them selling their house and moving elsewhere.

Rest In Peace, John Cole.

Anonymous said...


Todd H. said...

I lived next door to John. He was a great guy to talk to. He made the best out of his disability - even on cold winter days, I would see him sitting out on his front porch. I remember on warm, breezy days I would occasionally get a pleasing whiff of his cigars.

Not being a Somerville or Mass native, John knew all sorts of interesting historical stuff about everything around me. I learned a lot from the guy. I don't live in Mass anymore, but can honestly say I learned more about things related to Somerville and Boston history from him than anyone else.