Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Words To Joe

When Joe had a recurrence of cancer it was soon all I could blog about; but I didn't want my blog to just be about Joe's cancer and I soon said so. Well, now I feel the same way about Joe's death. I don't want my blog to just be about death, sadness, memories of a lost son. I want my blog to be about life. So, while I will still occasionally blog about our life with (and without) Joe, I also want to write about all the life we still have encircling us.

Having said that, I did want to share what I wrote to read at Joe's Celebration of Life. I feel it will give everyone a better idea of who Joe was and what a wonderful son/brother/friend the world lost. I was not able to read it because I was too emotional but my sister read it for me.


A team in baseball is much like the structure of a family: every position plays an important part in covering the field and winning games. With nine family members, we seemed to have the perfect baseball team. Everyone had a particular position and there was a cohesiveness we all enjoyed. The addition of our new little rookie from Vietnam was going to give us a relief pitcher—or perhaps a chance for me, Mom, to just be the pinch-hitter. I mean, I can hit the ball like mad! The outfielders will even back up when I grab the Whiffle bat and step up to the plate. BUT, I do have a few faults. For one, I throw like a girl and for two, I'm afraid of the ball. On so many occasions Joe would try to tell me that if I would just keep my eyes open I would probably have a better chance of catching the ball!

On the day Joe died, there was a big, huge hole in our family—in our team. A part of our family was missing, not just on the field, but everywhere. It's hard to win when you're down a player. Joe played many positions in our family: comedian, sports nut, Nintendo geek, animal lover and awesome brother.

Joe's sense of humor had always kept us laughing—he was even telling jokes right up until the end. He loved to be crazy and often had quite the costumes for various school and family events. Sometimes, his costume was minuscule indeed! Think “The Emperor's New Clothes.”

Joe often said that once his cancer was gone he was going to college—perhaps to become a high school teacher and coach. He would have been very good in the role. He also thought about becoming a doctor--with his intelligence, he could have become anything he desired. I remember him learning to read, at the age of four, by looking at baseball cards. He was doing percentages in first grade as he figured out baseball stats—something he enjoyed doing his whole life. He created fantasy teams on paper long before they were computerized and once those became popular, he had fun with those. He LOVED video games too--the harder they were to play, the better! Nintendo's Zelda was his girlfriend for years!

Joe had a passion for soccer and was called “Miracle Man” as a forward who would often score within minutes of the whistle. In typical Joe fashion, he said that having cancer wasn't all bad, it had given him the chance to see every second of every game in the World Cup. That was Joe. Always seeing the positive. He didn't like being on the “disabled list” but he never complained during his cancer, and he was always saying, “Don't worry about me mom, I'm fine.”

Joe loved animals, especially dogs. I remember tenderly tucking him in one night—which meant also tucking in his giant Golden Retriever, Shadow. Joe was about ten and he said, “I love you soooooo much mom! So, so much! (long pause) I love you almost as much as Shadow!”

Joe was a great big brother. In almost every family picture, Joe is holding one of his younger siblings. Once he could drive, when I would ask him to run an errand for me he would usually take a carseat out of the van, put it in his little Celica and off he would go with a smiling toddler.

Joe had a strong will. There were many times he humbled us as parents, but he was such a charmer, with that amazing smile, I could never stay mad at him for long--and he knew it. That strong will helped him during his long and courageous fight with cancer and I can guarantee you, his doctors have never had a patient with a stronger will to live. I actually think God planned to take him to heaven when he was on life support the first time but when God saw that strong will to live he said, “Okay, buddy, you win, I guess I'll give you a little more time!” Those last few weeks with him were precious.

But even with that strong will, the time came where his body just couldn't keep up with his will even though he valiantly fought to the very end. When the end came, I was devastated and empty. I felt like there was a huge hole in our family and always would be. But then, I realized we were not down a player after all. We have an angel in the outfield—just like the movie with the same name that our boys enjoyed so much when they were young. And just like in the movie, when you have an angel on your team, you win, even in difficult situations.

We aren't down a player, we're up an angel.


Christina said...

Beautiful. Such a wonderful tribute to an amazing son.

Anne said...

You are an amazing writer, Shila. I always enjoy your blogs! What a special tribute.

Jean said...

That was so touching I have to cry now. But not for long cause I can tell you are ok.