Joe. He has had a vast and direct impact on MS Run the US and myself personally. He was apart of the small group of individuals – the MoneyMutuals and Denise Sykes of the world; the Joes – that give me the rose-colored notion that people help people simply because it’s good. Because it’s the right thing to do. No need to return the favor. Here, this is what I have to help you. Take it. Flourish. Call me in a year to let me know how it all goes.
Joe wasn’t even a voice in 2010. I didn’t talk to him, much like I didn’t really communicate with MoneyMutual, because I was running a lot and I had something he gave and if I didn’t talk to him then he couldn’t take it away while I needed it. I didn’t know how to adequately say Thank You. I didn’t know how to express my deep gratitude without also feeling like I owed Joe the world, which I had not to give.
In 2010 Joe was a bald head and a smile with a tub of popcorn sitting on his lap in a Chicago Marcus Cinema while I spoke to a small group of people before a screening of Prefontaine’s “Without Limits”. That was the first and only time I met Joe in person, though I got to know him much deeper over this past year. I am so very grateful I got to know him better this year. This past Sunday, on September 29th, Joe passed away peacefully after a years long battle with cancer and diabetes.
Joe owns the MS Run the US motor home that has taken us safely across the country twice. In 2010 through a fundraiser he heard about our need for a motor home, and our lack of funding to buy one or fix one up, so he lent us his and paid a pretty penny for some repairs. As previously mentioned, I didn’t talk to Joe much in 2010 simply because I was intimidated with the idea that someone would just give me their vehicle for six months to allow me to run across America safely. I had no reason to believe that he wanted anything in return because he never asked for anything in return, but it just didn’t seem normal.
I’ve come to realize it’s not normal. What Joe did for us, for myself and MS Run the US, is everything but normal. After the completion of my run I did stay in touch with Joe and his family, and late in 2012 I humbling reached out to Joe again for help. I didn’t think I would have a need for his motor home again, but as it happened I didn’t find sponsorship early enough to buy one for the non-profit this year. Now knowing that Joe has passed, knowing that our need for his vehicle again brought us together, I am grateful for that lack of sponsorship.
When I initially called him in 2012 we had our first conversation last longer than 5-minutes. We were on the phone for nearly an hour and we both took the time to get to know each other. In that conversation he told me he was really proud of everything I had done, and what I was planning to do, and in the conversation I realized there are people – the Joe’s of the world – that help simply to help. That I didn’t owe him anything. These Joe’s are rare but so valuable.
Joe and I have had many long conversations since that first long talk. I’d call him to update on the RV. I’d call him to let him know we successfully started. I’d call him to have a mini-melt down when the RV rear axial broke in Vegas. I’d call him to see how he was doing. I’d call him to tell him how mom was doing. He always wanted to know how mom was doing.
I called Joe for the last time this week. I knew he had passed because I am connected to his family forever, but I called. I was on a run and I was thinking about Joe. About the conversations we’ve had this year and about who he was to me in this life. Life, it can wear on a person. The bad news and the disease and the bills and the work and the grind and the seeking, it can wear on a person. But I knew Joe, and because I knew Joe then the Joe’s of this world exist, and there are people that do good things just to do go with no intention of reaping a return.
I called Joe one last time on my run to hear his voice. Because I’m young and I don’t know what lies ahead, but if I could hear his voice one last time and commit his baritone message to memory with the bald head and the smile with the tub of popcorn on his lap, then I would always know, no matter what lies ahead, that there are good people in this world.
Joe. Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for being so good.
-In my heart forever. RIP.-
- by ashleyk
- posted at 3:36 PM
- October 3, 2013