Now I am Joe
It wasn't long ago that everytime I walked out my kitchen door, I found Joe there. Leaning up against his truck ...smoking a cigarette, gazing at the skies, smiling at the world I lived in. I would pull in my drive way, harried from the commute home and there he would stand, smiling. I know he didn't stand there all day, he created hundreds of thousands of projects in the 12 years I knew him, he just always KNEW to be there when I came and left. He was my friend. And partner in an abstract way. His beautiful wife Peggy, always an effervescent presence in our aura, allowing us to bond with pencils, paint, concrete, clay and dreams. Together we poured wishing ponds, built fantasy boards, sketched a thousand "idears" as he called them. He drew endlessly. Awakened by sirens in the night, or friendly dogs howling at the moon, I would find him on the porch...smoking, clip board and pencil in hand, sketching out his thoughts. I cannot even begin to guess how many portraits, cartoons, random thoughts he penciled on that porch, but he saved them all. Less the few very chosen ones he shared. A christmas present. A gift to the waitress at the breakfast bar. A comission here and there.
In December Joe passed away. In a simple sort of way. There was no wake, no funeral, no fancy yancy obituary. In passing, as he he had in life, he preferred peace. No parades to rain on. He simply moved on. But not before he shredded all his artwork. Methodically running it through the electric blender of days gone by. What he had shared in life was a gift you could keep forever, what he had not, was his secret. He would take it with him.
I was blessed. I have a portrait of my child, an abstract of Ringo Starr, Barishnikov (pardon the spelling) dancing on my living room walls. Joe's take on my world and his gifts to me. When he left us, I have to admit, I felt some abandonement that he didn't leave us his treasure box to plunder through, to pilfer through, to grab at, to snatch some part of Joe to hold closer to our hearts. We were left holding only what he had given us in life....the greatest gift of all....his friendship, and a few momentos to confirm that, in fact, we had been friends.
But I was wrong. Not long ago Peggy fetched me his stash. A stack of cardboard. The backings to every drawing pad he had ever graced. They had been salvaged, saved, stacked neatly in his closet. Waiting for the moment. And I knew then, what I know now...may the circle be unbroken.
This one's for you Joe!