Monday, May 13, 2013

The girl loved her cigarettes

Parliament 100's, that is!


I'm talking about my mother, the late Lou Johnston (as she was last known).  Since yesterday was Mother's Day, I've been thinking a lot about the old girl and what a wild ride we had at the end of her life.

Mother and I had been estranged for many years, from when I was about 7 years old until I was 16.   Yes, we spent some weekends together, but mostly I lived with my father and step-mother, Margie, who turns 80 today!  (Happy Birthday, Mama!)  But after I graduated from Conroe High School, I moved back to Houston and lived with my mother while I attended Houston Baptist University where I earned my Bachelor's degree.

In 1978, and a sophomore at HBU, I opened my first real estate company.  (I mentioned this recently in a broker/owner meeting and Eric Gage, that nice young man who owns RE/MAX Cityview, blurted out, "1978?  That's the year I was born!"  But ok, I'll still consider him my friend, albeit whippersnapper!

Nonetheless, in 1981, I purchased an ERA franchise, moved my office to North Shepherd in The Heights, and Mother came to work with me.  I later married Rachel, and we bought a property on 6th Street that we moved our offices into . . . and Rachel and I moved into a garage apartment in the back.  In 1986, all hell broke loose and life changed completely.

First of all, Rachel got pregnant (with Katie, as it turned out).  My mother was unnaturally stressed over the issue, as though it was her baby.......a little weird.  Also that year, Rachel's employer, JR McConnell, and from whom we had purchased the property on 6th Street, filed bankruptcy and his huge criminal empire was suddenly revealed.  This was a man who had hobnobbed all over Galveston, Houston, Memorial, and with the most elite of people.  But he was a huge crook.  And his empire crumbled, and he was arrested.  Within weeks, he killed himself in jail.

He died owing us over $250,000 . . . leaving my empire to crumble, too.  On November 8, 1986, Mother had left the office to go home, but about 30 minutes later was found stumbling about in the parking lot.  We got her inside where she was nauseous and dizzy, and called an ambulance.  The paramedics came and said they could find nothing wrong with her!  So I called her personal friend, a physician by the name of Dr. Kantis, who told me to take her to the nearest Emergency Room.  So the ambulance drivers helped me put her into my car, and I drove her to Heights Hospital.

After much testing, and to make a long story short, the next day we learned that she'd suffered a brain aneurysm.  I was 29 years old with a pregnant wife and a crumbling business.  We really didn't know what to do.

There is so much to this story, that I'll have to blog it in parts.  Some of it still hurts, and it has molded me into the man I am today.  Stay tuned for some crazy events . . . so crazy, that you know they're true (no one could make up the stories you'll read!).