IDENTITY MONDAYS

John Meihaus

In today’s world, it’s extremely rare to meet someone who exudes positivity even after experiencing pressures of life and yet through it all, have the tenacity to continue on.

As James A. Michener once said, “Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” So it is with great honor and privilege to introduce to you, John Meihaus.

John Meihaus

For John, life wasn’t always smooth flying, but it was his tenacity that kept him going throughout all these years.  Born in 1946, into a wealthy and large Catholic family, John is the oldest of four boys and four girls. His parents began family life in an affluent neighborhood of Los Angeles.  Surrounded mainly by medical doctors, surgeons, and lawyer residents, the family was immersed daily in common fundamental truths. Each family had 6-8 children and the kids all grew up together; they lived alongside each other and attended the same grammar and high schools.  Everyone was successful and as John remembers, “It was an absolutely marvelous time in life!”

Raised by “hard as nails” parents, John and his siblings were expected to excel at everything because of a very regimented upbringing.  The children were required to achieve great success and do exceptionally well in all walks of life. The bar of expectations was set really high which pushed the children to achieve great heights of independence.  Excellence was demanded and, therefore, left little room for error.

At that time, John’s father was a sought after nephrologist who excelled in his profession.  While he was busy building a successful practice a few miles from home in downtown Los Angeles, his resilient mother meanwhile established a nurturing home environment.  Due to the demands of the thriving practice, his father wasn’t around most of the time. This was essentially the time foundational truths were established, ones that would pave the way of life for him and his siblings for years to come.  As the eldest brother, it was then that John recalls stepping up, having the privilege in watching his younger siblings grow up.

Things were done so much more different than they are today.  John recalls grabbing his bicycle and confidently riding around with his first girlfriend in seventh grade.  She was his first love but fate had a different plan. Unfortunately, it didn’t last and they parted ways. After finishing an all-girls’ Catholic high school, she went on to marry a more established individual.  Heartbroken, John, however, went to a different high school and later went on to grow a family of his own.

As John attended high school, the central focus now shifted to getting perfect grades achieving greatness through football and following in his father’s footsteps.  However hard he tried, he was always outsmarted or outdone by someone else. After finishing high school, he went on to attend Seattle University, a Jesuit School up in Washington State.  Four years later and a Bachelors in Biology, John was introduced to the love of his life, Janet. It was through his best friend that he met his wife of 45 years. Janet’s friend was dating John’s best friend and it was only natural for the four to double date.  They acquainted each other at a Mexican restaurant and very quickly realized how much they needed each other in their lives.

She was the one who filled his heart up again and made him believe in love once more.  It didn’t take long for the couple to realize how in love they were. Six months later, surrounded by family and friends on the East Bay of Lake Washington at the most extravagant celebration of love, the couple was married on Dec 18, 1971.  “We hitched our sleigh to a star, and we believed in each other.”

After an unforgettable honeymoon in Hawaii, the couple began their married life.  John was earning a Master’s degree in Math all the while simultaneously teaching Math to seventh and eighth graders.  Thanks to Janet’s position as a stewardess, the couple was able to travel extensively to many locations around the world.   Eventually, in 1976, John went on to acquire a pilot’s license.

A year into their marriage, they made a move out to Orange County, where they bought their first home together.  There, they began a family. First arrived their daughter, followed by four more children.

John and Janet were able to build their own family based on the fundamental truths taught by their parents.  All of their children attended Catholic schools; some played instruments and were taught on how to attain a wholesome, fulfilling life.  As adults, they now pass on the legacy to their own children.

Life has a way of teaching important lessons and that’s just what John and Janet experienced when they received news that their young son had cancer and would require treatment for the next ten years.  No one knew what to do or how to handle it. Janet literally lived at the hospital with their other children all while meeting the demands of the siblings; giving herself selflessly. She did everything she could to make sure her child received the best care, but soon became depleted.   John’s way of coping was to immerse himself in work. He traveled extensively and wasn’t available for the family anymore. This caused a rift and (coupled with other decisions), led to the demise of their marriage.

Over the years, the children have all grown up and moved out.  “When the kids grow up and leave, it [creates] a vacuum. A person doesn’t know what to do because they’ve spent all their time giving of one-self.  After the kids grow up, most men tend to go off in another direction, which is not conducive to family. Mothers are able to fill that void with devotion, love, and care.  Since you’re no longer a nurturer, what else is left?” Now a grown adult, their child is cancer free, living a fulfilled life.

In retrospect, John gives thanks for all the blessings and trials he’s been given and leaves the rest alone.  “I don’t let [the trials] interrupt. There are big obstacles in life that a person won’t be able to see right away until the years have passed.  Life is filled with challenges, you’ve seen many, many and you’re going to see many more. Many, many more. Don’t let it take your goodness away.”

Now that he’s a grandfather to three beautiful grandchildren, he is able to see himself in hindsight in his own children. This is a pivotal point where he’s been granted an opportunity to better himself in areas he’s struggled with before.  Although not easy, he’s learning how to relinquish control, and become more forgiving of himself and others.

He frequently enjoys flying the friendly skies to various places, just to get away.  

He is still close to his own siblings, and all his children live in close proximity.  “Life’s a journey and it’s best that we enjoy it and love each other without limitations.  The rest doesn’t mean a thing.”

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