John is Granny's husband who had died many years previously. On the day she was jilted, her world was collapsing, but John's "caught her under the breast, she had not fallen." John rescued her and saved her from total despair. He said that he would kill George for her, but she said "for my sake leave something to God." When John says "Now, Ellen, you must believe what I tell you..." we do not know what John said, but we can suppose that he professes his love to her and asks her to marry him.
Granny loves John as a wife and mother of his children, but she still thinks of George in a romantic way. Near her death it is George that she wishes to see after 60 years. It is also George who is tied to her lack of spirituality because of her feelings of guilt. Her bitterness results as a wasted fruit which could have been the love they shared