This post was lovingly written by our brother-in-law, Joey. He was our Simon, quietly helping us carry this cross and doing anything and everything to make our life easier. He never hesitated in anything and jumped in to help with his whole heart. He made us laugh, and sometimes he made us cry. He would spend countless hours with Joe, whether it was praying with him, sharing a beer or a funny story, modifying the house, or driving and flying with us to medical appointments. I could go on and on but just know we could not have walked this road with half the humor and grace without him. –Mel
It is with a heavy heart that we write this post. Our dear Brother Joe has finished the race. Completing this painful journey this wonderful man is welcomed with the comforting words we all hope to hear “well done my good and faithful servant.”
I’m sure I will not be able to do this great blog justice. Please bear with me, however, while I ramble on a wee bit about the greatest person many of us will ever know.
My favorite photograph of Joe. He was a little boy. He was wearing, a bandana, a holster and had his gun drawn. He was coming out of the family kitchen (they had cool western like swinging doors). Also, in the photograph—his mother. She had him by the elbow in one hand and a text book in the other.
It is a beautiful photograph that describes Joe’s personality. You see Joe was always on to the next great adventure in life. Many times, those adventures needed his IMMEDIATE attention. Sorry mom, the studies will have to wait there is a damsel in distress. There was a tree that needed to be climbed a ball that needed to be kicked or a villain that needed to be brought to justice. Almost every night Joe managed to sneak away from the dinner table. If you listened carefully you would hear the Indiana Jones music echoing from his room as he jumped from that truck (AKA his bunkbed). Or you could look out the window and see him running through the woods–thinking to yourself–I guess this evening’s adventure has taken him outdoors. Now I ask you reader land, why would the youngest among us, who couldn’t get a word in, want to leave the company of us older folks? Afterall, he could learn so much from us older and wiser people. There we were waxing eloquent on whatever topic of the day had our attention and Joe was having none it. If you were to ask anyone at the time which one of you will grow up and teach everyone how to live and die filled with the love of Christ. Which of us will, during a very painful death, draw us closer to our Lord. I’m not so sure anyone would ever point to the youngest one running through the woods and jumping from bunkbeds. The youngest among us became that person. The youngest one who couldn’t get a word in and with a cruel twist of fate lost his voice at the end, spoke loudly. His message was deafening. He taught us all how to live and more importantly how to die filled with the love of Christ and focused on his everlasting reward.
As Joe got older, he kept his adventurous spirit and never forgot the innocent humorous side to life. He designed and provided the exact specifications for the coolest and most likely the fastest wheelchair on the planet, affectionally known to all as “Lively”. Joe’s intelligence was on display when he chose Melanie as his wife. Again, we are faced with that question. Which couple among us will grow and teach all of us the true meaning to the vocation of marriage. Certainly not the youngest couple. That’s impossible, for we have all lived longer and are so much wiser in the ways of the world. Just follow us youngsters we will lead the way. Wrong again! The youngest among us paved the way. Melanie was not only a physical and emotional marvel (Wonder Woman as Joe so affectionally called her) she was also the shining example of unconditional love. Melanie was not just along for this ride. She was quietly leading the way. She tenderly cared for her entire family during times that would have beaten a weaker person. Her strength, faith, humor and unconditional love was truly something to behold. Once again, the youngest among us taught us all.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned to Joe that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at his bookshelf. Join me now on a top to bottom journey of this wonderful expression of Joe. The top shelf J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy. Right beside those great books centered perfectly—”Peanuts: A Golden Celebration” and “The Snoopy Festival”.
Next shelf down CS Lewis, model cars and a glass soccer trophy (provided by his coworkers).
The third shelf we will save for Last. Onto the fourth shelf. Scott Hahn and a book that screams JOE and is coming in handy right now “Drinking with the Saints”.
The bottom shelf “Lessons in Hope” and “Brother Juniper”.
Now for the third shelf, it might be the most diverse of them all and is my personal favorite. This shelf housed beautiful small status of our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph along with a squishy Sumo wrestler (yes you read that right).
As many of you know Joe had the unique ability to capture ALL of those things. Joe was an intelligent, joy filled, humorous and above all a man of great and never yielding faith. Joe captured our minds and filled our hearts with his honest faith filled and at times tearful journey. He inserted humor into so many posts when most of us would never be able to find it in the experiences he was having. He provided us with private stories of his sufferings and a glimpse into his wonderful personality. He was able to lift our spirits and challenge our own ability to smile during such confusing times. Joe, however, was never confused during these past few years. His eyes never left the ultimate prize. He carried us along his personal journey by providing us glimpses into emotional moments all with the hope that it would bring us closer to our Creator.
Now, unfortunately and fortunately (yes that’s right) for all of us Joe is on to the last great adventure. While many us cannot understand why things happen, Joe never wavered in his understanding of how his journey would end. Not with death but with everlasting life. Joe is now on the greatest adventure. The adventure we all hope to attain one day. He is perched in front of the beatific vision praying for each and every one of us for the rest of our lives! This is the part where Joe would edit this post and say… “Don’t you dare forget to ask people to pray for my soul, for I need prayers. You tell them all to pray for me” so without further ado I write—please, everyone pray for Joe’s soul he needs your prayers…. But don’t worry if he’s not there yet it wont take long (author taking liberties at the end there).
Joe thanks you all for traveling with him these past few years. For praying for him, crying with him, sharing with him and laughing with him. Please remember Melanie and the children in your prayers. Especially in the days, weeks and months to come. We bid you all a very fond farewell. God Bless.