Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In The "Joe Zone"

So, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have heard me refer to being "in the Joe Zone". Well, I am gonna tell us what that is. Then when you see it in my Twitter feed or posted on Facebook, you can smile, send me a smile, and know I am in a great place with two of the greatest people in this world! Here goes:

In my previous blog post, you know, the ten defining moments one? Well, some of those moments included my father and my brother. In that post, it was revealed that my father has cancer and my brother has cerebral palsy.

Their names are Joe. (things are starting to click now, huh?)

I will begin with my brother.
We are besties. He is a couple years younger than I am, just a smidge cuter, but I make better coffee.  He will tell you his coffee is better but he lies. (not really, LOL) Oh, me making better coffee, that's true. Him lying isn't.

He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months of age. (it was later changed to cerebellar atrophy but because of his improvements over the years, that diagnosis doesn't make sense) As a child, I never knew that Joe was different. He was just my little brother. And we were best friends.

I can remember putting braces on his legs at night. They were big hunks of dull metal with grungy brown leather straps that imprisoned him and held his legs together, unable to bend or move. I hated when he cried and yelled.  And, I can remember saying “It’s okay, Jody. This will help you learn to walk.” I know now, I simply mimicked my mother, as I had no idea why he couldn’t walk.
He didn’t speak either. Grunts and pointing was his form of communication. And then my step-father made him speak. I remember thinking how cruel his was. “Jody can’t say milk!” I cried from my spot at the dinner table. I wanted to run over and give him milk but it wasn’t allowed until he said it. “Mu” finally came out. I would like to publicly honor my step-father for being so “cruel”!
After that, he started to talk. Not perfectly, but he talked all the same.  Being so close in age, adults in our family, my mother; grandmother; uncle; everyone really, would holler at me, “Kimmy, what is Jody sayin?” I always knew. Every time!
I started trying to teach him to walk. Sitting facing each other, I would put his brown, high-top orthopedic shoes on top of my feet. Holding hands we would stand up. Oh, how many times we fell. Over and over. But, we would succeed too. And then I would take steps, and with him balanced on top of my not-so-white sneakers, he would too. Pretty soon, we were dancing that way.
He got crutches then, that had the wrist strap and he would get up on his own. He got pretty good at those. After a few years, he could take steps alone. He found things to grab in his path; the chair, the doorway, another chair, a doorway, a buffet in the dining room, the table, the doorway- you get the picture.
By age 11, he had it down. He could walk!
Shortly after his 13th birthday, he found baseball. He became a walking, talking, baseball encyclopedia! He could tell you stats, games up, games back and any other baseball related info you needed, including when the games were on, where they were playing and what local channel.
At 14, he entered public school. At 18, he graduated.
Now, at 46 and still my best friend, he is an independent man; a hard working sports fanatic/geru, who loves coffee, collecting autographs of famous people (and he has some good ones!), and his cat Mrs. Goldberg. And yes, she is named after the wrestler. Well, she is named after his late cat, “Goldberg”, who was in fact, named for the wrestling giant.
Oh, and he is also a member of the American Checker Federation and plays in national tournaments all over the United States. I have not beat him since the 80’s. Instead we go to local concerts and have family day every Sunday. Here we are today:

Now, for Dad; the original Joe.
Okay so he’s my dad and I’m gonna say he is the coolest guy in the world. But, he really is. Ask anyone. He can’t be explained in words. Even for a writer.
He writes too. He has three books out there. Zapata’s Horse –The Book of While, Ogallala:The Rise of Morning Sun (someone in Nebraska asked him NOT to publish this one), and The Minimal Man.  Zapata’s Horse is my favorite, although Minimal Man was good too.  As for Ogallala…I will say I can see why Nebraska was mad! LOL! Sales on that one will probably soar now, huh?
He is true in his mind and pure in his heart. He doesn’t hate. Not even people who should be hated. He is a die hard Cardinal fan and even applied to be head coach. Actually got a letter back thanking him for his application. Kept it on file.  When we were kids, he worked at an antennae factory and would find the biggest box he could fit in the car and wrap it at Christmas for HIMSELF!
When my boys asked him who Santa was, he said he was. He couldn’t lie. It was okay, though. My boys just thought that was why they couldn’t go in the shed. (he kept the reindeer in there) He makes wicked homemade popcorn and a mean Shirley Temple. Makes a pretty awesome Bottom Bouncer too but there is a 2 drink limit for good reason…LOL!
He has always made a point to tell me he is proud of me. No matter what, he loves me and he always makes sure I know it. My brothers and I truly are, the luckiest kids in the world!

In 1998, Dad called me and the horrible words came out of his mouth, “I have cancer.”
In the days that immediately followed, we were in a fog. There was immediate surgery to remove a grossly invaded kidney and similar adrenal gland. There were months of medicine, weight loss, nausea, and shock. In the years since then, there has been more of the same, but,with moments of hope and victory.
Today, it’s the same. Medicine, weight loss, nausea, shock, and now-fear.
He has given up all his disposal organs. The big demon has invaded his pancreas and his liver. We wait. Remind him to eat. Hope he doesn’t catch a bad cold and visit him every Wednesday at his workplace- Our local VFW!
That’s where  you will find me, every Wednesday.
At the local VFW, with the bartender, my dad, Joe; who makes a wicked Shirley Temple and an equally toxic Bottom Bouncer and with my little brother, Joe; a checker playing, coffee loving sports guru who can’t make a decent cup of coffee.
So now you know....The Joe Zone; my favorite place to be!

Smiling right now cause it's Wednesday!
Until next time,


  1. You are an amazing lady! Thanks for letting me in on a piece of your life =)

  2. thank you so much. Thanks for reading and letting me know there is life out there....was starting to think maybe I had been taken in the Rapture or something. Glad I am still here.

    Thanks again,