A number of people who stop by my blog, comment on a post from last December, see here. That post has confirmed, again, that some of the most hurting people in the world are parents of rebellious children.
Below is the seemingly inexplicable story of a pastor and his wife who recently embraced on a railroad track and ended it all. No one knows for sure why the Johnson’s took their lives. The only known struggle is their strained relationship with a son.
HENRIETTA, Texas – The train whistle blows several times a day in this North Texas community, the familiar soundtrack of life in small towns located along railroad lines.
But since late last month, the sound has become a haunting reminder of the evening when a beloved couple stepped onto the tracks and stood in embrace until a train ran them down.
The double suicide of the Rev. Eldon Earl Johnson, 69, and his wife, Linda Kay, 61, was particularly shocking because of the key role the Johnsons played in helping nearby Ringgold rise from the ashes after nearly being destroyed by wildfires three years ago.
On June 30, the Rev. Eldon Earl Johnson and his wife, Linda, took the last steps of their lives on the railroad tracks in Henrietta, Texas. They embraced and then turned their heads right before they allowed a train to hit them. They left no note.
Why the popular minister and his wife took their lives is a secret that they carried to their graves. But their deaths have left a community struggling to plumb the mysteries of the human heart.
During a memorial service last week, the couple’s three grown children, adopted son and daughter, 10 grandchildren and hundreds of friends and neighbors gathered to pay tribute to the Johnsons.
A minister asked anyone who had been helped or encouraged by the couple to stand up. Everybody stood.
"After those fires three years ago, he and his wife helped to distribute food and clothing to people who lost their homes, who had nothing left," said Randy McCormack, 71, one of three pastors who officiated at the service.
By all accounts, the Johnsons, married for 43 years, were a happy couple who liked to hold hands and who were well-known and liked in Henrietta, 18 miles east of Wichita Falls. Their lives revolved around the daily visits to the Dairy Queen, where Linda worked as a cook. They ministered to the needs of their small church congregation in Ringgold and attended just about every sporting event involving their children and grandchildren.
No one knows for sure what was going on in the Johnson’s lives and minds. But, if we accept for a moment that their strained relationship with their children was part of the problem, it is appropriate to again remind people whose children are causing them pain – – Don’t go through it alone. Share your heart and prayer requests with one another preferably in the context of a local church. Or, if nothing else, through the Internet.
For all parents, don’t make your children an idol. Parents who make their children the center of their identity – – who worship their children – – will be devastated when they find out that those who might make wonderful children make very poor gods.