My brother-in-law Joey is one of those guys who people can easily label as “one of a Kind”. He is a very special person. I have known him for most of my life and I have never known him to be anything other than kind, caring, helpful, quiet, and born with a true heart of gold.
I first saw Joey when he came to get my sister, Gerrie for a date. It was very late at night and he was in the Navy. He came by our tenement with his friend Roger. I was around 11 or 12 at the time. I recall waking up and seeing him by the door with his friend. Both of them in their sailor suits and as handsome as could be. As soon as he noticed I woke up (our tenement was a railroad apartment and my bed was in the middle of the apartment (no doors and I slept with two of my sisters) he came over to say hello and to introduce Roger. I remember jumping up and hugging him and then falling back to sleep. I didn’t really know Joey well all I knew was that he was totally and madly in love with my sister and that they would soon marry. Back then Joey was not much different from how he is today. After he married Gerrie he had a job at UPS and would work long hard hours. They have a daughter, Barbie Jo and she is the apple of Joey’s eye. He was always fiercely protective and a loving husband and father. No one could mess with either of his girls or their extended family if Joey had anything to say about it. His presence alone demands respect and his good looks are still with him today. No one, except maybe my mother, could find fault with Joey. Then again, my mother found fault with every single guy her daughters ever went out with. She was a tough bird and took no-nonsense from anyone.
Joey continued to work really hard and long hours providing a great life for Gerrie and Barbie. He extended himself to many members of our family as well. He taught my oldest son, Rocky to drive. He loved baseball and other sports. He hunted a little when he was younger and collected baseball memorabilia and hunting rifles. He took his wife and child on a vacation every single year. It is easy to know that Joey cares about us even if he never utters a word in that direction. I have only seen him angry twice in my entire life and both times in defense of either his wife or daughter. Now that is saying a lot, don’t you think?
Well sadly and heartbreakingly Joey has gotten Alzheimer’s disease and the symptoms started about 16 years ago. For quite a long time Joey held his own and with the help of Gerrie and Barbie and now his two grandchildren, he maintains a pretty “normal” life. Recently, he became physically ill and consequently the dementia worsened. Now he needs additional help from a professional staff at a rehabilitation/nursing facility. It breaks my heart to see this happening to anyone and their immediate family. Alzheimer’s is a horrific disease because it takes away the cognizant portion of your mind. It becomes so debilitating and a person afflicted with it cannot survive without help. More has to be done about this disease. Research must be explored further. A cure or at least a better treatment to delay the onset of this disease must be found and soon. I believe half of the population will develop either dementia or Alzheimer’s at some point and no matter what kind of lifestyle one lives, if it happens it will only be the research for the treatment and hopefully the cure that will help.
So as I sit here reminiscing about my wonderful brother-in-law and knowing that somewhere inside the man I now see is that same man, that same caring, kind, loving man who if he could would still defend and protect his family to the bitter end. His handsome, strong body is deceiving, but I am grateful that he still has those qualities.
I chose to write about Joey today because he is on my mind each and everyday lately. I know I could never repay him for all the kindnesses he bestowed upon me throughout my life and I wanted to pay tribute to a great man who deserves to be happy, loved and taken care of in the best possible way. Joey is “one of a Kind” there is no doubt and I am very glad and grateful that I am privileged to be part of his extended family. I will love him always. Thank you, Joey. I am sorry I never took the time to tell you how I felt long before now and I hope that somehow you know all the lives you have touched, changed and made better just by being, Joey.
The song on this post is for Joey because he loves these types of songs and would often listen to them.
And that’s the Way I See It here in Brooklyn.