Connecting the dots.
Jonn Scott Flath, born January 5th 1993
“Our son passed away while doing what he loved most, training to become an officer in the United States Air Force at Loyola Marymount University. Jonn touched the lives of everyone who knew him, and his love and zest for life extended beyond his friends to those who only heard about him….Jonn touched hundreds of lives while he was here with us and we want to continue extending his love for as long as we can. The Jonn Scott Flath Memorial Scholarship fund is a 501c3 fund which will be used for graduation High School seniors to help defray their college/university costs….we will be working with West Ranch High School and their administration senior staff who will make the decision (no applications are permitted) based upon the selected students character, morals, GPA, cross cultural diversity outreach, enthusiasm and overall sincere attitude, characters which Jonn displayed.”
I typically have several blogs in my cue that I may start and come back to in several weeks, or even months, later. I began a blog about my youngest son, nicknamed Sterbs, several months ago upon acceptance to UNLV. Within that blog I do remark both on the strong connection Stevie and I share as well as the very difficult times he endured during his early high school years.
And what does this have to do with Jonn Scott Flath? Patience dear reader. I am getting to that.
I have since deleted this blog as it was a far more therapeutic diary entry than anything else; yet it does, ironically, provide a striking background and some perspective on the journey Stevie has had the last several years. His jovial personality and his “golden boy” image hides the fact that he had to overcome quite a bit of adversity as a Freshman and Sophomore, necessitating him to transfer schools mid-year in the 10th grade. In order to respect his privacy, I will not go in detail regarding the specifics of his experience. Suffice it to say it was awful. It was dark.
In fact, it was one of the darkest times of his (our) life.
I went on in this blog to discuss some details of the events that transpired; however with the benefit of passed time, further reflection and current events, it serves no purpose. We had long talks and ironically, we discussed how strange it was neither of us had cried through the ordeal, as men who are not afraid to express themselves in this way.
Perhaps great events come at a great price. Perhaps perspective…even connecting the dots of life, only come in time. I have often observed that life can be a great mural and we can only know of it purpose and beauty upon completion; any premature observations are speculation at best -and usually wrong speculation.
In order to succeed in life, one must roll with the punches and attempt to capitalize on everything that happens. I am definitely NOT an “everything happens for a reason” person –not even close. I am an “everything happens -and now make the best of it” person to be sure.
And make the best of it Stevie did.
What we did not know at that time was that this seemingly unfortunate and painful transfer opened the door for Stevie to meet a new friend -yes, senior Jonn Flath who was completing his final semester at West Ranch High School. Stevie instantaneously loved Jonn and spoke so highly of him. Stevie would show me his videos and I was not appeasing Stevie when I commented how clever and genuinely funny they were. Stevie entered West Ranch at just the right time to experience Jonn’s friendship.
I will never forget the day Stevie came home early in his Junior year in tears and told us that his friend had died suddenly.
I will also never forget the day that Stevie was honored to be the recipient of Jonn Scott Flath Memorial Scholarship.” In Sterbs own words:
“So tonight I won a $2,000 scholarship titled the “John Scott Flath Memorial Scholarship”. Jonn Flath was a 2011 graduate who passed away on September 23rd, 2011. This scholarship is not one you can apply for, it is one you are picked for. Mr. Vincent, our principal picked me for this scholarship because I displayed “Integrity, Joyousness, Perseverance, and Generosity of Spirit” in my time at West Ranch High School. I left the senior awards after the video recognitions because I did not apply for any scholarships, and I never thought in a million years I would be the one chosen for this scholarship. After speeding back to school to speak with Jonn’s family, I have never cried harder this year and I have never been around such great people. They are amazing individuals. I’ve never received such a high honor and I could not feel better about my experience in high school as of this moment. I feel this is a constant reminder now to demonstrate these qualities with Jonn watching over. Thank you West Ranch High School, thank you Mr. Vincent, and thank you Mr. & Mrs. Flath. I still write about you Jonn and I will never forget what you taught this school and how many lives you’ve changed.”
Rest assured we are both crying now. Not tears of anguish or pain, rather tears of remembering such a great person; tears of honor, tears of joy. I knew there was a reason neither of us cried 3 years ago. Why waste tears over the actions of the weak, the hypocritical? Those whose primary concern is self? I believe now that our tears were reserved for the strong empathy we feel for the Flath family, for the love and acceptance Stevie has been given by West Ranch High School and the happiness over his fate the last 3 years. Tears over the fact that fate allowed Jonn to play a role in Stevie’s life.
Stevie never wavered from a positive spirit. He never stewed over the fact he was screwed over. He never said a negative word. He kept his head up, moved on, stayed strong and never looked back. Congratulations Sterbs…it may take years, though good character always triumphs in the end and rises to the top. You are following in some strong Flath footsteps -a predecessor who set a strong pace.
Little did we know that a painful transfer would result in a once a in a lifetime experience for Stevie…to meet a new friend, Jonn Flath, who was only to be with us for a few more short months. And little did we know that our pain was NOTHING remotely like the Flath family had and continues to endure. It makes me question what real pain really is as our experience was more inconvenience in comparison.
Yes, I do know that in some languages crisis and opportunity are synonymous with each other, though sometimes it is difficult to tell which one is which. Sometimes opportunity comes in ubiquitous, mysterious and painful ways. Even through a mid-year transfer.
Do all things happen for a reason? It would take a tremendous amount of hubris to think they do….though thank God for small windows of opportunity. We are grateful. Stevie’s and Jonn’s (very short) life dots were, and are, connected. Beautiful. Just beautiful. We are grateful.
Reading this was a very good way to start the day.
What a beautiful tribute. To John. To Stevie. And to life.