John The Little Big Boy


After John died in 2001, my mom, aka Nana, wrote an essay about John. Here is an excerpt:


John Robert Crosby was remembered by everyone who ever met him as that cute little boy with glasses and a beautiful smile. John was kind, compassionate, unselfish and compliant. He never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings or so anything wrong. He didn’t want anyone to be mad at him, but he was also his own person. He knew what he liked, and what he didn’t like, and he would let you know that!


He didn’t like crowds and if there were too many people around he would find a place where he could play or read alone. When he was younger if you asked him what color he liked he would say brown or gray, and his favorite ice cream was vanilla. Around the age of six, he declared that his favorite color was green.


He never asked for much as far as toys were concerned. He was happy with what he had. One Christmas all he wanted was “Gl’oreal” watermelon shampoo and an Owl Clock he had seen at Meijers. He liked sharing his brothers toys.


His best forever friend was Lissa. She lived next door, and they met when both were about 2 1/2 years old. One day when they were about 3 years old Lissa wanted John to go to her house to play, but he told her he couldn’t because Nana was coming to visit from Chicago. I had never met Lissa before and shortly after my arrival the doorbell rang and Lissa stood there wanting to know where “The Nana” was. She came in, scrutinized me and then said, “I like your lipstick”. Then she went back home. When they started school John would go to Lissa’s to get her and wait for the school bus. That stopped after everyone at the bus stop would tease John about having a “girlfriend”.


For many years he LOVED Volkswagens. We would look for different colored ones for him. One summer I was buying t shirts for the boys and saw a VW one for John. The next time i went to Ann Arbor I gave it to him and he said, “I’m done with Volkswagens!”.

There was a time when he wouldn’t eat hot dogs anymore. He said, “Hot dogs will kill you!”, and he was probably right. He didn’t like to waste time, and he often said, “What a waste of time”. Maybe he knew something we didn’t.


At his school every spring they hosted Special Person’s Day. For the performance John was in the front row because he was smaller than the other kids. The students sang songs and recited something to go along with the theme of the program. John who was usually shy, or so we thought, stood up there and made faces and gestures and smiled the whole time. After the program many people commented on what a kick they got out of him and said, “What a ham!”.


When they visited us in Key West in February of 2001, John was in good spirits and smiled and laughed a lot he loved the show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” and he could answer a lot of the questions. One night I told him that next year he will be able to answer the $32,000 question and he answered right back, “no, I won't”. We liked to walk to Dairy Queen at night and John surprised us all by getting a chocolate cone one night, instead of vanilla, so I ordered the same thing and we sat next to each other on the red bench there and enjoyed our ice cream.


Papa was going to retire that year and there was talk about us spending more time in Ann Arbor with their family. The day they were leaving Key West I remember John walking onto the porch on the way to the car and he asked Paula, “When Papa comes for a month, can Nana come too?” Little did we know that I would spend a lot longer than a month at their house that summer.


For John’s 8th birthday party that year he had no trouble making a list of kids he wanted to invite, normally he just wanted a few kids, but this year the list had sixteen kids on it! The party was at Chuck E. Cheese, even though he found that mouse to be “creepy”.

John loved his brothers, his school, and second grade broadened him in more ways than one. It was all in preparation for John’s next life challenge, being diagnosed with cancer.



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