Joe was born when I was 3 1/2 years old. In my mind we were close from the get go, at least as far back as I can remember. He was always happy. He had a group of adoring friends from the get-go. There was Jason and Brady, the funniest group of three. Then Tommy A. moved across the street from us. The boys were 2 or 3. We have pictures of them asleep on the couch, looking like they conked out mid-play. They were inseparable. Even when the Tom's family moved a few blocks away, we still played together, especially Tom and Joey. When we moved 30 minutes away, Tommy and Joey still got together every weekend. Look at this face - always a bit mischievous - in a totally innocent, always hilarious way.
Joey and I slept in the same room quite a bit. I had nightmares often so he would sleep on my floor to help me feel safe (this happened up until he passed away). As kids, he was so accident prone. He fell off of our roof (he climbed on it when there was 3 feet of snow). When he was 16, he stuck his hand in the snow blower to remove some snow (no, you aren't supposed to do this!) and the blades did not cut through his skin but broke each of his fingers in several places. He told some girls at school he had his fingers pierced. They believed him. Who were these girls? He also told some gals that his mom was black and that was why he was so good at sports. Two things, he doesn't look African American and he was not so great at sports - at least, not at football, which is what he was referring to.
Does anyone remember his sense of style? Or should I ask if anyone could forget? He would wear the funniest combinations but always thought it was so cool. He would spend so much time on his hair (this was in elementary school) and then later just shook it out when he got out of the shower when he was a teen. Epitome of cool, whatever the year.
He loved Christmas because his middle name is Nicholas, so of course St. Nick was his pal. See this beanie cap? He loved it and wore it (and outfits like this) because he thought he looked "rad".
He was rarely sad. Look at these pics. This is how you saw him 99% of the time. He loved Michael Jackson back in the '80's, could spot a Corvette a mile away.
He wrote the same book report on "Bo Knows" by Bo Jackson every year for probably 5 years. I don't know if he changed it at all.
When I was away for 6 months in Israel for a study abroad my sophomore year of college, I would call home and talk to him for hours at a time. The phone bill didn't make my parents happy but it was worth it. He was so fun to talk to.
I used to have a little Geo Metro. I would twist the windshield wiper fluid thingies so instead of spraying my windshield, they would spray to either side of the car. My friends and I and Joe would drive along the boulevard and squirt people at random. Or stop and talk to someone we knew and while we talked Joe would inconspicuously be pushing the squirt button. We would also throw water balloons from said car on said boulevard. One time he launched one right into the sun roof of some parents we knew. It was way too funny. I know this all sounds a bit corrupt, but it was in good fun with no mean spirit intended. Plus, whatever Joey did was ok.
When he was 4ish he told us you spelled his name "G.I. JOE". He was so proud of himself for spelling it.
He was especially close to our cousins Ben and Bryon. Those three were little mischievous imps. I was talking to Bry a couple of weeks ago and his wife asked if it was hard to talk about Joe. I said it was harder not to. Then Bry started telling me funny stories. Bry said it was always fun to come to our house because Joe always had a plan, never a dull moment. One time they were headhunters. We lived near some undeveloped land so their were a lot of insects, especially grasshoppers. By headhunters, he meant that they would catch grasshoppers and put their heads on pins. In relaying this story, it sounds bad and gruesome, but they were kids and there were A LOT of grasshoppers and calling themselves headhunters was pretty clever.
When I was in high school and especially when I lived at home during college, he would wait up for me to get home for the night from dates. If I was late he would fall asleep with his lamp on, so I would know he waited.
When we were younger and old enough to stay home without a sitter, he was put in charge because Sam and I couldn't get along, but Joey could keep things calm.
He LOVED chocolate rice crispy treats. He could make them almost better than my Grandma still makes them. I can't make them, they get hard and inedible. He really loved anything chocolate.
He had good friends, who are so good to our family. There are too many of them to talk about, but they mean a lot to me. After he died, they would come over to my parent's all the time, just stop in and eat whatever was in the pantry and talk. These were 16 year olds at the time. They still share their lives with us, marriages, babies, and more. I don't think they know how much this still means to us when they do this. I remember days after he died my mom was downstairs working on picture collages of him for the funeral and she heard someone upstairs walking around, opening the fridge, pouring milk, opening the pantry. A few minutes later Ben C. came downstairs with his milk and oreos and just sat down. He and Joe got in so much trouble together, good trouble I think. Ben married Linds, who was one of Joe's other best friends. They have a daughter who was born last October named Josephine. Linds' dad is named Joe also, but I like to think they named her after my brother Joe. In fact, I really want my son Joey and their Josie to get married. She's a little bit older, but I think Joey could handle that. I would also be fine if Josie married Eli.
So here are some memories, obviously in no particular order. He was my best friend, but I think he was so many people's best friend, he was just that way. I miss him like crazy, but am glad I get to miss him rather than not ever have known him at all. The knot in my chest has loosened a bit, tears have fallen while I have over-shared, which is good. I am glad I was able to say these things that I needed to share, my own therapy session.
(add on) Ok, some of these memories shared have helped me remember some more. Do you remember when he and his friends collected hundreds, maybe thousands of those X96 antennae balls? Then dumped them down 1800 South? Oh, and the Flobee. It is a razor/haircutting device that you attach to your vacuum. They have probably been recalled for so many reasons. Anyway, Joe wanted me to cut his hair. I guess I didn't make it down there in time because I walk in and he has duct tape on either side of his head (to protect his accidental sideburns) and is using the flobee to cut his hair.