BJ's PB Squares
John Meeker was one of those people that everyone loved to be around. He was witty, fun-loving, and never took life too seriously. It’s hard to think anything bad can happen to someone so full of life. However, sometimes life throws the strongest curve-balls at those you’d least expect; and that is what happened to John in May of 2009. John fought a long and hard battle against lung cancer for many years before he passed on January 6th 2016. Even when every day got harder for John, he still lived life with just as much passion and love as he did before his diagnosis. He was an incredible man and one that many people looked up to, including his daughter, Abby.
Abby is a co-worker and good friend of mine. One day over lunch, we spent our entire break listening to Abby tell some hilarious stories of her dad. From that moment, I knew her story was one I wanted to share. It was not only sweet, but extremely heartfelt and entertaining as well. Abby agreed to meet again to tell me more.
So Abby, tell me about your dad. What was he like?
Abby’s ponytail swings as she perks up on her chair. She starts to giggle, “Well, Inappropriate (laughing). No, he was a complete goofball. He was the life of the party, very outgoing, the ultimate storyteller.” Abby’s father was known for his wild stories and sense of humor to match. Everyone loved John, especially Abby’s friends who often referred to him as BJ, short for Big John.
“One thing that always reminds me of my dad is peanut butter. I mean, the man was OBSESSED!” He LOVED peanut butter. Seriously, he put it on everything.” Abby said you’d often find John smothering a chocolate granola bar with peanut butter; his favorite treat.
“He would have these midnight feedings that were just hilarious.”
“Yeah! He would find his way to the kitchen in the middle of the night, eat whatever sweet he could find, and wake up the next morning with no recollection of it. One time he ate two of my mom’s entire homemade strawberry pies and totally forgot about it.”
His favorite midnight treat? You guessed it, granola bars with peanut butter. Some mornings Abby’s mom would wake up to crumbs in their bed and had no problem identifying the culprit. There was John laying in bed with peanut butter smeared all over his face. This habit soon became a running joke in Abby’s household.
Abby’s favorite memory of her dad was their Sunday ‘church’ tradition. “Growing up we never really went to church. Instead, my dad would call different places ‘church’.”
Church to Abby meant Sunday morning Hy-vee breakfast with her dad. He would order his usual, #3: two eggs over easy, sausage, and hash browns, with a side of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. After breakfast, they would drive around to the local car dealerships and look at mustangs, BMW’s, or any luxury sports vehicle they could find. One of John’s favorite hobbies was buying, trading, and fixing up old vehicles. Abby swears he had a new car every couple of years.
One feature John always checked for in those cars was a console big enough to fit his 62 oz cup of Diet Pepsi, another one of John’s favorite treats.
John would stop at the same Casey’s General Store and refill his large cup of Diet Pepsi every day. He’d always grab either peanut butter cups or blueberry cake donuts. Even after John’s passing, the ladies at Casey’s remembered him for his frequent trips.
It didn’t take much to make John smile. Just give him a can of Diet Pepsi, an old car to fix up, and some peanut butter, and he’d be the happiest man around. Even for his birthday, all he wanted was a yummy treat. Ever since Abby can remember, her Grandma would make her Dad chocolate peanut butter squares for his birthday. To this day, her grandma will make his special birthday treat every September 30th.
Abby plans to continue this tradition in honor of the wonderful life John lived and the legacy he left behind. Because, just like peanut butter, some things are meant to stick.