Exactly one year ago, David Johns was at the pinnacle of his career, flying on a private plane to Arizona with his boss and the owner of ProCare RX. But on the return trip to Georgia, everything seemed a bit off.
The pilots were more fidgety than they were on the way there. Johns’ boss got out of his seat, went to the back of the plane and came back with dark sunglasses on, which seemed strange on a small flight. And the trip took much longer than it did on the way to Arizona.
What Johns didn’t know, but what he would soon find out as the plane landed, was his mother, Margaret Johns, who lived in Alto, had been killed in a wreck on Ga. 365. His wife, Monique, met him with open arms at the airplane hangar to break the news.
“I was devastated,” said Johns, who was living in Flowery Branch at the time but now lives in his mother’s home in Alto. “But I’m a realist. My whole life, when things have happened, I don’t deny it. ... I face it head on, and that’s one thing my mom always taught me because we grew up with some adversity. She was a single parent, raising kids by herself. So she went through a lot of strife in her life and she taught us how to survive through that.”
Johns didn’t want his mother’s memory to fade away and he didn’t want her love for sewing, which he said included at least $2,000 worth of equipment and supplies, to go to waste either. So when Debbie Smith, a member of Air Line Baptist Church, drove by as Johns was having one of many yard sales, trying to empty his mother’s house, it seemed like fate.
“I was just coming down the road and I saw a yard sale sign,” Smith said. “Something told me I needed to stop, but I didn’t really want to. But something said, ‘You need to stop.’ So I parked my car and started up the hill to go to the house.”
Johns said sewing was his mother’s passion and she always wanted to open up a brick-and-mortar store to sell the things she made. She ended up operating out of her home instead and built up a small clientele. Johns said anytime there was any sort of event, his mother was sewing something for it.
“She didn’t really do it to make money,” Johns said. “It just made her feel like she had her own business, so knowing that that was her passion, the last thing I wanted to do was throw this stuff away or put it in Goodwill and just hope it gets some good use.”
So Smith, as a member of Air Line’s women’s ministry S.A.L.T., or Serving And Loving Together, that helps people in the church and throughout the community, thought of a way Margaret Johns’ memory could live on.
She told Johns about the ministry and he decided to donate all of his mother’s supplies and equipment to it in order to ensure it would be put to good use.
“She was one-of-a-kind, let me tell you,” Smith said after seeing everything Margaret Johns had accumulated over the years. “I never met this lady, but I wish I would have.”
Before long, Smith started sending Johns photos of all the things the ministry was doing with the items he donated. It was able to make microwavable heating pads for patients and families in the hospital, chemotherapy pads or pillows for patients to rest their arm on while getting treatment and walker and wheelchair bags for things like books and glasses.
The ministry even added a special tag to the items: “In Memory of Margaret Johns.”
Since that day a year ago, Johns said he’s found comfort in knowing the fabrics his mother once tried to make him wear are being used to help others. That’s how he tries to live his life now, in honor of his mother, asking himself what she would do in situations he finds himself in each day.
“In a way, donating these things was healing,” Johns said. “Just because it was kind of like closure for me, like the final piece of the puzzle. The one thing my mom cherished more than anything else in this world, I’ve actually done something good with it. So I was at peace with it. It was pretty cathartic.”