Friday, September 28, 2007


This is my little brother Joe. He is who our son Joey is named after. The 11th anniversary of his death was about a week and a half ago. I think the fact that I have a son named after him, August is always a particularly emotional month, I am not getting much sleep, and hormones made this anniversary tough. But in reality, each anniversary is tough, I just try to forget about it. I think I need to write this post so I can talk about him but on my own terms. So, I ask a favor of those who read this and knew him - if you are comfortable please leave me some memories you have of this great kid. Anne left a comment about him (from one of my flashback friday posts) and I got so teary, because I don't think I know Anne but she knew Joe and because I want to hear about him. So, please indulge this selfish request of mine for the memories, pass the request along to those who have memories and ask them to come here and leave them and keep reading because I am going to tell you some of mine.

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.


Corrie said...

oh thank you for sharing and what a beautiful tribute to him... I can't even begin to imagine the loss that you and your family have to deal with but I hope that sharing has made it easier and that his life meant so much to so many people


Paige said...

Whit..I needed a good cry. I love the picture of you two under the umbrella. I was thinking the other day how funny it would have been to see Tommy and Joey play together. Pure comedy I'm sure. It's hard for me to even write this, but I saw Lindsey's heart break for the first time when she received the phone call. I wanted to make it better. I couldn't stand to see her so heart broken. I think maybe Joey's passing saved Lindsey from my bullying. I no longer had it in me. I wanted to protect her and I was so grateful for Ben to be there for her, considering he was heart broken too. The three of them were so cute together. Don't tell Ben, but I always wanted Lindsey to marry Joe and was really upset when the "broke up". Anyway...I love when you share these pictures. And of course Josephine is named after Joey and my dad.

Tommy said...

Hi Whit. It's Tommy. Here's a break-down of my earliest and favorite memories of Joe Schmoe (i used to call him that to tease him when we were little and he'd get so ticked) are; sleeping in the tent in the backyard of our house on Mitchell while erick eliason read us ghost stories, sharing our 'converse all-stars,' (his shoe always fit really loose so i can't imagine what my tiny shoe must have done to his foot...he was definately a form-over-function fashion guy), riding figures 8's on our bikes in your backyard, joey getting hit on his bike by a car at the bottom of the street on a rainy saturday, my mom paying brenn hill to teach joe and me how to break dance, sneaking into chuck's room in the basement and playing with his boomarang. I remember backing Joey up at Wasatch Elementary when the girls chased him around to smooch him.

As we got older, he was not only my best friend but the best influence in my life. Even now, 11 years later, he is still influencing me. Some of the best decisions i have made can be directly attributed to his example. I miss him a lot. It is a shame he had to leave us so early.

whitney said...

Paige, I went over to your house later that day (or the next, it is all a blue) and just laid on the bed with Ben and Linds. It was one of the only places I could breathe. Tommy, that was my bike on my birthday that he got hit on and I didn't even care. How did he have that effect on everyone?
OK, I am selfish, but I need more memories, for some reason this is so comforting.

Josie said...

Hmm, where to start. My earliest memories are of when Joe first moved in. He was definitely the big man on campus at Boulton Elemetary. My friends immediately formed the "I love Joe" club and held weekly meetings on Noelle's tramp. The funny thing was that they didn't disband once Joe became my boyfriend...guess they were still holding out hope! Our relationship was complicated in sixth grade- we never talked in public, or made eye contact except for on Valentine's or my birthday when we would do a gift hand-off and I would get something super cute that Whit had picked out. Oh man, those ILJ club members were so jealous. By seventh grade we started to talk - and sometimes would even hold hands at MPJ volleyball games. We became best friends and I guess that's why we broke up. It's funny how once we broke up it was okay to talk in public and have twice as much fun. I remember having my mom and Lynn trade off driving us snowboarding every Saturday, and your dad always calling me "brows" (this was before I started waxing them) or sometimes he called me "green eyes." Joe inherited your dad's sarcastic sense of humor - and he had a special talent of teasing anyone and everyone without making them mad. He truly had the kindest heart and befriended all the misfits at school. Some fast memories: picking up Tami, Bouncing Souls, Vandals and Face to Face concerts, Winchell's and Rifle, driving around singing Twisted Sister out the sun-roof, many happy times at Alberto's (the top left pic is there), throwing our burrito leftovers at the sign, eating Susan's homemade peach ice cream, millions of hours riding bikes at the U, rollerskating at the park, the golden ticket, Joe's awesome t-shirt collection, the Flobee!, I could go on and on, but my favorite memory is the week before he died, I was sitting home lonely and having a really hard night, and on Joe's way home from hanging out with Doug, JOe, Sam, etc, he came by to check up on me, bring me an X96 ball, and just talk. I recently found my journal entry from that night when I wrote how grateful and lucky I felt to have a friend like Joe who I loved so much. I think about him so much, little things here and there spark a flutter of little memories. And OF COURSE Josie is named after Joe. I always wanted to have a little one named Joe, but lucky for me she turned out to be a Josephine. I look forward to telling her all about him someday, and what a wonderful person he is to be named after. There isn't enough room or time to say everything I want to, just to say that I love him dearly.

Josie said...

And I love you Whit - I need to follow up with a funny memory about you. I remember once Nikki, Sid, and I took the bus to Crossroads and when we were headed back to the bus stop we ran into you and your friend and you drove us home in your little red car listening and singing every word to Salt 'n Pepa's Shoop. I thought you were SO cool.
I also have many memories of Joe being so protective of you, and always preferring to hang out with his sis than anyone else. I always thought that was so sweet. You had an amazing relationship. He looked up to you and loved you so much. You were always so sweet to him - and if you have to lose someone in this life, it's pretty cool to not have regrets about how you treated them.
I'll be back for more, the memories are just starting to flow!

Anne said...

Oh, my goodness, I think I made myself president of the "I Love Joe Club." I actually even remeber some of the meetings! I remeber thinking Joe was so awesome in 6th grade with his Hypercolor t-shirts. He and Linds were pretty much the raddest couple of all of Boulton Elementary. In 9th grade Joe and I had three classes together where we sat right next to each other, I think because his last name started with a C and mine with a D. Anyway, it was one of the most fun years of my entire school career. That winter Joe and Klaus threw me in the piles of snow at MPJH every day after school (seriously, EVERY day!) and made fun of me for listening to Depeche Mode and The Cure, or as they called them, "The Queer". I pretended to be so mad when they did this, but on the inside I was loving it. Any attention from Joe had to be considered great! I think I helped Joe start the rumor that he was half-black. We even got a few people believing it, despite his not looking in any way African-American, and thought that was so hillarious. And as for those X96 balls, Joe was definitely a pro at gathering them. I remember him snagging one particularly prized ball at a red light while the driver of the de-balled car was staring at him in total amazement. All my memories of Joe are good ones.

whitney said...

Linds, it was a sad day at our house when you guys broke up, although we got to see more of you when you did. You are the little sister I never had. Lucky me that I have you now. Anne, Depeche Mode and The Cure? I have to back Joe up on those, Joe was good at music. I started laughing when you reminded me how he got all those antennae balls (taking them off of people's cars, with them in it, on the road, usually at a red light). He sounds like a total hooligan, but wasn't.
Tommy, form over function, totally Joe's M.O. but then again you met me for lunch last fall with the tightest, skinny leg pants on - I can't imagine they were comfortable or easy to get on or off.

Ok, I want to hear more. I think there are more of you that have memories, even if you just heard from friends about this post, PLEASE share. I really should have done this sooner, it has been so good for me.

Josie said...

I am back! Whit you reminded me of one of his special talents - he really did have an ear for music. It seemed like he'd get a cd and then a few months later it'd be popular and everyone else would have it. I remember just before he died he had gotten into Texas is the Reason, and then it got trendy so he was over it. We went to so many concerts together. I remember in 6th grade he had the O.P.P. tape and I tried to figure out what that stood for for about 5 years. And who could forget Joe's Time Life classics??? That CD is a gem and everytime I hear any song from it I smile and get seriously nostalgic. I can still hear him singing "Run Joey Run" in a super high voice.....
These are just random memories - I remember one of the items on the "I Love Joe" club agenda was to talk about what Joe wore to school that day - I remember one day at school there was some serious excitement because "Joe and Babe were both wearing tank tops today!"
One more memory for today: In junior high, Tom, Joe, JC and I went snowboarding on memorial day (last day of the season) at Snowbird. We took the tram up, and at the top there were all these signs saying "DON'T LEAVE THE TRAIL!" So, of course we did, and came to a spot where the snow ended and it was dirt all the way down. We ended up having to hike down 2/3 of the mountain with our snowboards - through rivers, mud, etc. It was so funny. We couldn't stand not snowboarding all summer, so we'd drive all the way to the top of Alta to find a little patch of snow, and we'd build a jump on it. Anyone who snowboarded with Joe way back when remembers his snow pants that looked like denim - - so fashion forward.
I love this - please think of more!!!

whitney said...

Holy Crap Linds! It shouldn't have been cool for Babe or Joe to wear a tank top to school! I have his Texas is the Reason LP, I think Chuck has the CD. I have a whole case full of his CD's, and yes, he was always ahead of the curve on this, I don't know how. Remember when Joe went snowboarding (I think with Ben, although you were probably there, and one of you was already in the line so Joe boarded up and joined? The guy behind him (being 50ish at the time) got so mad and started pushing Joe? Then he cut Joe's cheek with his SKI POLE?!? My dad was so spittin' mad! Joe was trying to calm the guy down and all hell breaks loose. You guys snowboarded all the time!!!
What does OPP stand for? You can come over and listen to his CD's if you want, I haven't played them for so long. One time, probably when I was 15 and he was 12, we were teasing Sam. I would knock on his door while Joe would tap on his window, and then we would switch. We did it for about an hour, we were laughing so hard because Sam could not figure out what was what. So, about 30 minutes after we stopped, Sam comes upstairs, comes over to where I am sitting at the kitchen table (Joe was on the stool at the counter) and hits me in the shoulder so hard my chair falls back and I had this purple, green and black bruise to show for it. My dad just starts laughing, I yell "Joe did it too!" and Sam just walks out of the room. Joe is laughing so hard because of course he got away with it AGAIN! I'll try to think of more, but have some of all those friends add some. I've seen their blogs, I know they are out there!

tommy said...

I was with joe when the poser with the ski pole sliced joe...what a jerk! joe kept his cool, like always though. Linds, do you remember when Joe, Ben and I were driving up little cottonwood in ben's dad's truck doing 70mph and we passed those montain bikers? and on the way down one of then threw a rock at us because he claimed that as we passed him on the way up, the tire of the truck shot rocks at him. and we were all too wussy to do anything so we drove down the canyon and called tony-the-terminator! i still tell that story when i want to make fun of mountain bikers. everytime i drive up capitol hill, i still look for the burrito stains on the sign! whit, i'm calling you tomorrow.

Josie said...

Yes I remember that scary mountain biker - I can still see the look on his face like he wanted to kill us!! What is it with mountain bikers and their tudes?? I was remembering how Tami was missing a hubcap and after Joe was gone we stole one to replace it. We didn't ever give it to your parents because we felt bad for stealing it. It just hung on Ben's wall until he went to college. Oh, and in addition to Joe's famous denim snowboarding pants were his Fishpaw gloves..remember those?

Anne said...

Hey, where's the love? DP and the Cure are great! Ha ha. Those were probably the only bands I didn't agree with Joe on. We saw each other at an Into Another concert one time. I remember it because there was some bald girl trying to hook up with Joe and I was teasing him about it. Linds, was it you and I (maybe it was Les)who were convinced by Mr. Hunsaker to drink some cayenne pepper with maple syrup and lemon juice? Joe thought we were total morons for trying it, and we were. He tried to talk us out of it. Nothing was gained from it except for some serious gagging.

Andria said...

I must admit that I was also a member of the I LOVE JOE club...I mean, who wasn't?! From the time Joe moved in, all the girls from the North Canyon 4th Ward were in love with him. I remember how kind Joe was even though we were probably so annoying staring at him and whispering and laughing every time he looked at any one of us. Wow. The joys of elementary. I also remember all the dances at Mueller Park Junior High....I would take my camera to the dances and games and Joe & Babe always pulled such crazy faces. But they always had to be in the pictures. I think I still may have those pictures somewhere.

Tim&Kirst said...

We have a stolen Saab hubcap too! In fact it's hanging on our guest bedroom wall. I didn't know what it was when we were first married and I attempted to throw it away. Tim almost had a hizzy fit and since then we have it displayed for all to see. :) I'd told Tim to conjure up some good memories and he said he was going to post some soon. -Kirst

Toskovich Family said...

Whitney...this is Noelle Racker...I stumbled over this site, and loved reading it word for word. He is so freaking cute!

Thanks for sharing!

Toskovich Family said...

One more comment...just so you know my journal was all about Joe, and how Lindsey was so lucky. I kid you not...I would say how he was so funny, and I love that him and babe would play quarters with me during recess. hehhehe! That is why I fully supported the "I love Joe" club...this is why we had it in my backyard and on my tramp. is funny that you guys were boyfriend & girlfriend but we all still continued to have crushes on him.

Allie said...

Whit, I didn't know your brother very well, but I thank you for sharing your memories and love for him. I admire your strength.

Tony, Sidney, and Ella Lawson! said...

Whit- this is sidney lawson (mcgregor). Tony and I were reading blogs last night and came across yours through lindsey's. Oh my gosh do we have lots of memories with Joe, Tony a little more than me, but I will always remember Joe as the sweetest kid I had ever met. Yes, I was too a part of the I love Joe Club, and was too jealous of lindsey when they became "boyfriend-girlfriend". And I remember when him and Babe wore the tank tops, it was the highlight of our little elementary lives! I remember going to Sadies with him in High School, and what a fun dance that was. I wanted to go with a good friend and I am so glad Joe accepted the invitation. It was really the last time we hung out before he died and i am so thankful for those great memories. Thanks Whit and hope you are doing well. Sorry I didn't see this sooner!

Nikki, Cody, and Tessa said...

Whitney, Hi. It's Nikki Phillips. Long time no see. I just entered the blogging world and through Lindsey's blog I saw yours. I loved, loved, loved your tribute to Joe. The memories flooded my mind, and the tears flooded down my face. I have too many memories of Joe and hanging with Joe. I still regret not being able to go to Joe's funeral because I was in California for EFY. That's where I got the news. I remember Linds was supposed to join us in CA for EFY but of course didn't end up coming, for good reason. I will always thank Joe for playing little Matchmaker in Jr. High when he hooked me up with Tommy. Tommy was responsible for giving me my first CD, Blind Melon. Kudos Tommy. Elementary days were great at Boulton....and yes, I too distinctly remember his tank top wearing day. I remember running into Joe at Crossroad's Mall when I was shopping with my Mom and my Mom said, "Why don't you date Joe, he is so cute and has the best smile." I always had a little crush on him. Joe and I had seminary together as Sophomores last period, last term before summer. Joe gave me a ride home in his car just about everyday that semester. I remember twisting the pins in his hands (from the snowblower accident) as we sat next to each other in weird as that sounds. I suppose I was fascinated by that. So Whit, it was you who showed Joe how to squirt people with the windshield squirters!?! That is funny because on our way home from school that semester we had seminary together and we would drive by MPJH on 1800 South and squirt all the kids getting out of school. That's awesome that you guys did that together! I vividly remember the long conversations we'd have in my driveway at my house on Indian Springs Rd. as he was dropping me off from school. My Mom never stopped mentioning that I should date Joe. Joe's smile was brilliant, the twinkle in his eyes unforgettable, the way he befriended those who needed a friend like him, the way he could always joke around and I always knew he was joking because he would try not to laugh but his mouth turned up at the corners...there was just no hiding that smile. What an amazing brother you have...and what an amazing sister he has.