My heart is heavy. I lost my brother Johnny Cook Sunday November 8, 2015 just after 2:08 pm. The Coroner's Report will read, "cause of death, self-inflicted gunshot wound to the heart, death was instantaneous." Those of you that knew John will know that the true cause of death was a broken heart and that it was not instantaneous, it was 5 very long years in the making.
When John's youngest son Jake was born February 19, 1990 with Cerebral Palsy, the doctors said he would be lucky to live for 5 years. John and his wife Cheri made a commitment to that boy unlike any other I've ever witnessed in my life.
The result of their commitment 20 years later, Jake was pulled over for "weaving" by a Hanceville Police Officer while driving on Hopewell Road. Jake was terrified when that police officer approached to ask for his license and registration. You see, Jake was deaf and could not hear, but he could read lips, he also could not speak, but he learned sign language, as did John and Cheri, and their older son Jessie.
Jake knew his limitations and knew he should not be driving a car. He looked for guidance from my brother John who was sitting in the passenger seat. John sign languaged to Jake to tell the officer "bull shit." Hesitantly, Jake told the officer "bull shit" with his sign language. As fate would have it, the police officer, Steve Conner knew sign language.
Do you think anyone got a ticket? Anybody go to jail? No, far from it. I think Steve told Jake that if he would let his dad drive, sometime he would let Jake drive his police cruiser, just not on a public road. Well that began a life-long friendship with the police department and from that day forward Jake wanted to become a policeman.
Jake did become a police officer. On a cold day in October 2010 the Hanceville Police Chief Mark Bowers came to Cullman Medical Center, and as Jake lay in a coma in the Intensive Care Unit the Chief swore him in and presented him with his badge. There must have been 20 or 30 witnesses in that ICU (including doctors and nurses) and I'm here to tell you, there was not a dry eye in the bunch. His badge number was retired 3 days later when he died, never regaining consciousness. He was buried with full police honors.
Jake fell in the swimming pool at home and drown. When my brother found him, he pulled him from the pool and performed CPR on him. Although he was crippled by his CP condition, Jake could swim. We think it was the boots and heavy clothing he was wearing that cold night that prevented him from getting out on his own. His football was floating in the pool and we think he was trying to retrieve it when he fell in.
Johnny and Jake were the only two at home that evening. They had just gotten home from a day of routine adventures together. John told Jake to go put his 4 wheeler in the garage while he started Jake's bath water. We think as he walked by the pool he spied that football. When he didn't return in a few minutes my brother went to look for him.
Franklin Jake Cook died on October 22, 2010 and with him, so did my brother's will to live. My brother was alone on Sunday. His marriage to Cheri had fallen apart, ending in divorce just after Jake's death. His older son, Jessie is grown and married.
Of all the accomplishments to which I can rightfully lay claim, they all pale in comparison to what my brother achieved with his child who had Cerebral Palsy. I told him so.
Written by Greg Cook
A 10 song compilation Johnny and Karen were scheduled to record together.
Part of their brother/sister relationship was the fact that Johnny always pushed Karen to play piano & sing, even at times when she didn't want to.
They loved spending time together playing music. Karen played piano and sang and Johnny played piano, guitar, drums and even bass guitar, he had an ear for music and knew how he wanted his song "October Pain" to be written.
Johnny's love for his "baby sister" as he always called her & his belief in her talent is why she agreed to record. One of her fondest memories has always been the fact that he was her protector, he never "asked" her what she was going to do, but he always "told" her, he pushed her to get out of her comfort zone and to play piano and sing more.
It was his vision for the recording, but unfortunately he died Nov. 2015, just months before they were scheduled to be in studio in August 2016.
Johnny had a notebook filled with notes, sentences & even paragraphs of words to write the one song that was in his heart, and after his death he left that notebook with a note to Karen saying "You know what to do with this".
Karen was heartbroken and even though he had left her his notebook and wanted her to finish what they had started, she had decided to not continue with the music project, but God allowed a close Christian friend to step in without knowing, he did the same thing Johnny did ... he didn't ask if she was going, but simply told her she was, and it was that push that was needed to finish the project ... for Johnny, and yes his nickname was "Juber"
*Find the WITHOUT WORDS full length 10 song project on YouTube, iTunes, Deezer, iHeart Radio and many more, simply search Karen Cook Without Words*
written by Karen Cook, for my brother, Johnny
P.O. Box 2022 Cullman AL 35056
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