August 28. Another birthday…
I’m sure these special days will get easier with time, but for now they still bring a tinge of sadness, and this year, nostalgia. For some reason this week I am thinking of Joe’s early days, when “yoo-ya” meant “hallelujah” and “bop” meant “stop”. Big sister Jamie was “Mimi”. And one of my favs: “howp-tah”. Can you guess? (Answer at the end of this post).
I kept a journal for each of my kids as they were growing up. I was reading about Joe as a three-year-old and was reminded he spent his birthday money on a drum that year. He also liked to sit and “play” the piano. He couldn’t actually play any songs at that age but he had a nice touch and it really was pleasant to listen to. Here’s an entry from the journal: Yesterday after tinkling around on the piano for a minute, you announced that now you would play “Jesus Loves Me”. You played a few notes, then stopped—obviously disturbed—and asked with furrowed brow, “why doesn’t it sound like ‘Jesus Loves Me’?”
When he was six he was cast in a school musical and had a solo. He nailed it! Right on pitch, perfect tempo. He told me years later that if he’d known he had the choice he absolutely would have declined that role. (I’m so sorry, Joe! I assumed you knew!). He did not enjoy being the center of attention. Which is a bit ironic, since in later life he often found himself in leadership roles, especially in regards to music.
Fortunately he eventually learned to handle it with grace. I can totally imagine him opening for someone at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. And nailing the performance, of course. Actually never mind the opening act; he would be the headliner.
Tonight once again in Joe’s honor we’ll have pulled pork sandwiches for dinner, and fresh peach pie for dessert. Pulled pork was one of his favorite dishes, and it’s what he requested his last few birthdays. And, you know how he felt about pie.
Happy Birthday, Joe.