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Joe- April 9, 1967 - December 6, 1988

Joe – taken in Phoenix, AZ

I have this pattern on April, 9th, Joe’s birthday.  On April 8, I usually start thinking of what I want to write about him on his birthday.  I figure out how old he would have been (47 this year) and that leads me to what my life would have been like instead of what it is. The what ifs are not a good path to take.

I think of the quirky kid he was when he was little.  How he liked having books read to him – how he liked going out to eat – it was such a treat back then.  I was proud of how he collected his good toys together to go to Goodwill every holiday – so other kids could share.  How he dressed up in June in his Halloween mask and went door-to-door seeking treats because I told him he couldn’t have any cookies before dinner – how he went through a phase of kicking men in the shins – particularly the men of the biker club we road with and they would howl and lift him over their heads and he would giggle.  How he had a little low-rider chopper bicycle that the guys would balance as they ran behind it because he was too young to ride a two-wheel bike.  And it goes on through his school years and his teenage years.  There’s so much to write about.

Then I try to find a new photo to use.  I’ve used the ones taken before he died over and over.  It’s how he looked – it’s how I remember him.  But there was so much more that led up to him being the person he became.  So then I try pulling out all the old photo albums – well, try to find where I hid them.  I have loads of photos in manila folders and in albums – I start looking at them and the weight gradually gets heavier – and it’s 4 p.m. on April 9 and I don’t have a decent photo because I was all caught up again.  And pulling out the old ones gets too much once again.

But I want to celebrate his life, not cover myself in a deep hole and forget it – with the pain of his loss, there was and is a lot of joy having Joe as a son.  We were lucky to have him as long as we did.

Here’s to you, kiddo!  Happy Birthday!!  This picture was taken in Phoenix, AZ when we lived there in the late 60 and early 70s.

I don’t remember the exact date, but what a great smile!  I carried this photo around for years.  Luckily, Mike worked his magic in Photoshop and removed all the cracks and bends I put on the photo.