Below is the memorial that I wrote when my husband died June 2, 2009. Joe will continue to be a part of my About Page because he will continue to be a part of this blog. Odd would not be Odd, without him.
Joe should not have died on June 2nd 2009, and to quote Cole, this really sucks. Joe was 52 years old and his death was unexpected. He came home from a boxing class, said he did not feel all that well, took a shower and died. At 7am, I was kissing Joe goodbye as he left to take Cole to school…waving them goodbye as I do every morning out the big window, and by 11:30am I was sitting in a conference room at Resurrection hospital being told that Joe had died from an immediate and massive heart attack. By 3pm I was making funeral arrangements, and by 8pm I was telling Cole his dad had died. What can I say?
When Cole’s teacher of almost 8 years called the afternoon Joe died, one of the first things she said to me was, “Katybeth, I am just devastated… I loved Joe Ruscitti.” And that just kind of sums it up for me. “I loved Joe Ruscitti.” When I met Joe, he lived on the same street I did, worked at the same building I did, and was attending the same class I was attending. We both felt we were destined to meet and to be together … and so we were, often for better and sometimes for worse.
Joe is a great dad (the present tense used on purpose). The kind of great dad Joe was does not end with death. When Cole was in kindergarten, one of the most exciting things about having your birthday at school was being able to choose a helper to help you pass out the birthday treats and light candles. At five, this choice is an important one. Do you choose someone you hope will be your best friend? Do you choose your current best buddy? What’s a five-year- old to do? When Mrs. Donkel asked Cole who would be his birthday helper, he did not hesitate when he said, “My dad.” I remember Mrs. Donkel smiling at Cole and saying, “Well that’s a first.” So Joe, with his crazy hair and bigness, helped Cole hand out cupcakes that day, and that memory kept Joe alive many time in the past years, when I have wanted to kill him myself … and that memory keeps Joe alive for us now. Joe was a great dad. He loved Cole from here to the heavens when he was alive and the only thing that has changed is the direction.
Family and friends have said over and over, “Joe was who he was.” He was someone who loved his family, his parents, his brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. He loved my parents, even though they were not from the Northwest side of Chicago or even from Chicago. Joe loved his friends…some of you went to grade school together. David Tucci and Joe Rusciti still visited the garage together, and like me, loved Joe for better and sometimes worse. Joe was crazy about Joni Tucci, and when she made him crazy, he quickly explained it away, saying, “She’s from Pittsburg.” Joe kept every one of Joni’s mom’s birthday cards, and loved the Flanagan-Frankls enough to brave visiting their home in the “wilds of Northbrook.”
Joe was passionate about the community we chose to join when we sent Cole to the Chicago Waldorf School. He always felt at home at “Waldorf.” We went to the Waldorf School orientation when Cole was 18 months old, and when we left Joe, looked at me and said, “How could we not send our kid to the Waldorf School?” and we never looked back.
Joe loved cooking, rock and roll, taking classes in Boxing and Yoga, and participating in Eurythmy. He ranted about the liberals, while turning his attention more and more towards the spiritual side of life. Joe was both endearing and enraging, but never boring and always passionate.
Joe often told me he loved me and that all would be well. I hear him telling me that now, “All Will Be Well,” and even now, filled with sadness, a little anger, fear, and through gritted teeth… I believe him… All will be well.
Thank you. Thank you for loving Joe, and for loving Cole and me. Thank you for sharing the pain and loss that I know are not only Cole’s and mine.
We just love Joe Ruscitti and we are so glad you do to!
Katybeth and Cole