Who was this mysterious man who was known to us as Joseph, Joe, or Joey, or Bro, or Uncle Joe, or Hon?
From the time he was a little baby, I figured out how to "read" Joe. I learned what each subtle body movement meant. His facial expressions were actually quite loud. Sometimes his eyes alone would tell a whole story.
His teachers would say to me,
"Joseph is a good student, but he is so quiet."
As he got older and moved on to adulthood, I lost touch with little things about Joe. What music he liked, what clothes he chose to wear, what songs he liked to play on his guitar, where he was on the weekend or who he spent his evenings with.
I never lost touch, though, with the silent communication we shared. His eyes, his smile, or a little shrug of his shoulders, each meant something particularly special to me.
Because he was so quiet, very often Joe would get teased :
"Keep it down, Joe, you're talking so much that none of us can get a word in edgewise."
Joe would turn red, but he would always smile.
It seemed as though some people would be uncomfortable around him. "He doesn't talk much", they would say.
Many of the people in his life knew only small bits and tiny pieces of him.
He is so quiet they would say.
What is he thinking? How does he feel?
He is so quiet.
Oh yes, we all knew that Joe was a Mets fan. I have a feeling that when everyone in the stands was yelling "Lets Go Mets, Lets Go Mets," Joe was quietly yelling it too.
His laugh may have been quiet, but his sense of humor was obvious. I'm sure if you listened closely you would know that inside he was laughing out loud at a silly Conan skit.
Hmm, I wonder which Family Guy character Joe most identified with?
Perhaps, the dog, Brian Griffin said all of the things that Joe was quietly thinking.
What was there about "Unca" Joe that Bella, Kenny, Ryan and Tyler could hear that perhaps others couldn't? I'm sure they never said, "but he is so quiet."
For sure there may have been little specific things about Joe that I lost touch with him about.
But when I reflect on my son I understand that I knew the most important things about him.
I knew what a gentle person he was. I understood his off kilter sense of humor. I knew that he loved little children and puppies and that they loved him.
I knew that he would always go back for seconds when I served my "famous" lasagna.
I knew that he was a good father. I knew that he loved his wife.
I knew that he was strong and that his strength ran deep.
During the last weeks of his life I knew that there were times when he must have been very frightened.
I knew that he never willingly gave up the fight.
Just few days ago he smiled and said to me "we still have time."
He knew I loved him.
The last time he "spoke" to me he mouthed the words "I love you."
Quiet people are sometimes misunderstood.
Take the time to get to know a quiet person.
After all you might be lucky enough to discover the treasures of their mind, heart and soul, just like my strong, "quiet" lovable, wonderful Joe.