That’s what I always called him, and how I will remember him, even though he was long since “Joe” to everyone, even his brother and sister. But he was Joey to me, my big grown-up cousin, more than a decade older than me so seeming like an adult even in my earliest memories. Always sweet to his little cousins, showing off how big and strong he was (though he was as skinny as a rail) by offering to let us punch him in the stomach as hard as we could.
He died early this morning, his illness quick, unexpected, and brutal: strokes, possibly a heart attack, amputation, gangrene. It’s hard to believe someone could be driving around on Monday and be terminal by Thursday, but that’s what happened. Nothing could save him.
His life was not unmarked by suffering. His father died tragically in 1976, when he was barely into adulthood. His first wife died very suddenly almost 13 years ago, leaving him a widower with three children. His mother, whom he was counting on to help with the kids, died just two months later.
There were some tensions in his family, and his illness offered an opportunity for healing to begin.
He died on All Saints Day, the first day of this month which the Church dedicates to the remembrance of the dead. I like to think there is a wonderful heavenly reunion taking place this morning.
Please pray for his wife, for his three children, and for his brother and sister, the last ones left in their family.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.