By John J. Duncan Jr.

This will be my first Christmas in 44 years without my sweet wife, Lynn. I dedicated my book to her and put on the dedicators page that she was the only woman I was ever in love with.

No one ever affected my life as much as she did. No one ever did as much for me, in big and little ways, as she did.

I don’t suppose there is any perfect marriage because there are no perfect people. But we stuck together through thick and thin, and we had many, many good times together and very few bad ones.

Through it all, I believe with all my heart that Lynn really loved me, and I know that I really loved her. I miss her now more than I can find words to write.

I hated that she had to go through such a difficult time her last three years, being confined to a wheelchair, and especially her last terrible three months fighting cancer.

But what an inspiration she was to anyone who came to see her. Through the years, she taught me and our children and our grandchildren many things about how to live.

But her true greatness came out near the end. She taught all of us how a courageous, godly person dies.

I wrote in the August 9 Focus that Lynn had more good friends than anyone I ever knew. One of them, Jane Lowe, sent me a message the day after Thanksgiving saying she “woke up last night with Lynn on my mind.”

Jane wrote: “I sure do miss her and all our phone conversations…. I recall helping her decorate her large tree. She loved this time of year, doing things for her family. I miss her sweet smile and fun laughter. She was such a good friend.”

Lynn loved everything about Christmas except some of the gifts I gave her. I was always pretty lousy about picking out things that fit her or that she liked.

She loved our children and grandchildren so much and especially enjoyed having all of them together for Christmas.

Because of her jobs and all the activities of the kids and grandkids, Lynn came to Washington only once or twice a year.

On one of her visits, I took her to a place I had read about called Solomon’s Island on the Chesapeake Bay, 63 miles from Washington. Neither one of us had been there, and I took her there for lunch.

She looked in several shops, but the only thing she bought that day was a green metal pickle. She had read someplace that in some countries, families hid a pickle in the Christmas tree and the child who found it won a prize.

I sort of laughed about that pickle and didn’t think anything would come of it. But it became a huge tradition and led to some hard-fought contests in our family. We started with a $20 prize, now $100, and we hide a pickle in the big tree for the adults and one in a smaller tree for the kids.

Regular readers of my column know that I really love music. Around the time that Lynn and I fell in love, the number one song in the U.S. was “You Light Up My Life” sung by Debby Boone, Pat Boone’s daughter.

Lynn and I both loved that song, and she certainly lit up my life. Another song that came out a few years later that we both loved was called “Somewhere Out There.” Now that Lynn is in heaven, the words of that song have special meaning to me:

Somewhere out there

Beneath the pale moonlight

Someone’s thinking of me

And loving me tonight

Somewhere out there

Someone’s saying a prayer

That will find one another

In that big somewhere out there

And when the night wind

Starts to sing a lonesome lullaby

It helps to think we’re sleeping

Underneath the same big sky

Somewhere out there, if love can see us through

Then we will be together

Somewhere out there

Out where dreams come true.


If you have never heard of both of these songs, I hope you will listen to them on YouTube. They are very beautiful.

I also hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas and that the millions who lost loved ones this year will find a few moments of joy in the midst of their sadness.