Its Not Just About Joe! 2009 Summed Up!

2009 Summing It Up

Friends have reminded me that I promised one hell of a Year End Letter. So on January 2nd, 2010, 2009 in review.

January, February, March: Community

During the winter months, our family was all about the Chicago Waldorf School Auction which I was co-chairing. Of course, as Joe so aptly put it one night, only I would sign on as co-chair for a school auction during an election year and an economic crisis, because I must have realized that fundraising during ordinary times is not nearly enough of a challenge. I think he might have said this after he’d bonded at home with my campers for the fifth day in a row.

While our auction efforts fell short of our school’s monetary goal, the goal we far exceeded was community-building. Every single person at our school contributed towards our auction efforts. Ticket price $85.00. Auction item: $150.00. Community involvement: priceless.

March, April, May: Connection

I caught up. Auction mania was done. The laundry was not. Joe and I became more than cars that passed on our way through the McDonald drive-through lanes. True story! By chance, Joe was ahead of me in the drive-through McDonald line. We yelled out the window, “Hi! See you soon! Love you!” We drove off in opposite directions feeling positively gleeful that we had managed a family dinner.

Joe’s acting auditions began to fill his calendar. He was excited to be asked to perform in more and more student films. Do you wonder what it’s like when your husband decides at age 51 to stop being an insurance broker and become a movie star? It’s a challenge. I asked Joe what I should put down on a form requiring his occupation. He answered movie star. I wrote down movie star. There were more than a few moments when I thought he was on a crazy ride, and I was his front seat passenger. A lot of the time, I was proud of him.  As Rachel told me during one of my less supportive moments, “Joe has passion.” In March, April, and May, I connected with Joe’s passion, Chase bank, the tax man, the Jewel grocery store …

June , July, August: Comfort

Charlie Brown once said something along these lines to Snoopy: “Are you upset my friend? Have you been lying awake worrying? Well, don’t worry … I’m here. The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, and the sun will shine again, and best of all I will be there for you.” Our family and friends were there for us, offering comfort when things really sucked. Cole launched our family usage for the word “sucks.” When I told Cole, Joe had died on June 2nd, one of the first things he said to me was, “Mom, this really sucks.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Joe died – that sucked. The outreach of family, friends and our community didn’t. Our trip to Italy without Joe – that sucked. My trip to Italy together with Cole didn’t. Coming home to a home that did not include Joe – that sucked. Coming home to my mom and aunt, a freezer full of food, and phone calls of genuine offers to help didn’t. Having to learn to manage without backup – that sucked. Having a cousin fly in from Florida to cook for us didn’t. Having both my parents in the hospital at the same time, my mom in ICU 1,300 miles away – that sucked. Cole finding $75.00 dollars on the ground the night before we were buying fireworks and knowing it was his dad’s firework contribution didn’t.

Our family and friends both two legged and four were a comfort through the summer months.

Oct, November, December: Camaraderie

Joe was with us in spirit while we celebrated the holiday months with family and friends. In October we had our annual Halloween party and spread a few of Joe’s ashes. On Thanksgiving we were both thankful for what we had been given, and we grieved for what we had lost. We celebrated December with my parents who were glad they had come, not for the weather, but to see Cole perform in the 8th grade play as The Ghost of Christmas Present. The Christmas tree did not go up as usual, but it will stay up longer than usual and the lights and ornaments were hung with love and goodwill (well almost).

While we have been going through hell, our family and friends have made sure we keep on going!

It has been said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I agree. The parts: Joe died, Community, Connection, Comfort, Camaraderie. The greater Whole: LOVE. We could define 2009 as the year Joe died, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, don’t you agree?


35 thoughts on “Its Not Just About Joe! 2009 Summed Up!

  1. KB you’re writing, insight, strength, honesty and huge heart are beautiful!! All our love to you and Cole…and Joe who is always with you!

  2. So amazing Katybeth, the video is so moving and shows the strength of you and Cole. Joe was just one big bundle of love and joy! I love you both and wish you a peaceful new year

  3. Hey Girlfriend, Over the last almost 28 years I have seen you grow into the most amazing person you are today (not that you weren’t back then but who know a stove and possibly an iron would be in your life). Your summary of the year and the movie are a tribute to your ability to see the greatness even when “times suck”. Love you and the wonderful mother, arbitrator, friend that you are.

  4. Amazing that you could find so much good out of a year that could have been defined by the word sucks! I will call you every time I need to find the bright side.

    • As I think about it and reflect on most of the better moments–I notice they were all shared with someone who is important to me. My usual way during bad and sad times is to move away from others until I find happy again. Not doing that or being able to do that–is what may have made the year defined by more than Joe’s death.

  5. KB, your video was perfect. You are truly an amazing woman and you will raise a truly amazing son.

  6. Oh Katybeth, that video was amazing – as was your post, as always! (Maybe it will have to be a multi-media book?) I am insanely proud of you! 🙂
    Much love,

  7. Hi KB and Cole. Oh how nice it was to read all of your thoughts. I am also glad to say goodbye to 2009. We lost 2 dear friends this year. I often think of Joe and laugh at our old antics. Donating our husbands clothes to Goodwill and they came home to early to find their clothes were on the front lawn. My closet (secret) cleaning lady and more…. I just returned from Phoenix and I lit many candles for my deceased friends while exploring Catholic churches (Sedona and Tuscon).I keep saying my prayers. We miss you all. Love, the Perlongo’s.

  8. We did have fun Carolyn! By the way…I never put Joe’s clothes on the front lawn–I buried some old old clothes in your garbage can along with a few old trophies! Your cleaning lady was the Pièce de résistance and made you my mothers hero.

  9. KB,

    That was and is absolutely beautiful. I think you can give some of these Hollywood directors a run for their money. That Album- Roxy Music brings back some great memories being a part of your family.

    Wow, I have goose bumps, tears and smiles-

    Love you guys,


  10. Awesome. I loved Joe and my love for him has found it’s way to you and Cole. What a gift he left me. You’re wonderful.

  11. Dear Katybeth,
    I just got your Christmas card and year end letter. Thank you for the introduction to the website and your inspiration. Your words, thoughts and feelings are music to my eyes and ears and I love how you see things and put a positive spin on it all.
    Ken and I are fine, just trying to get away from the gloom as much as possible. We just got back from the Cayman Islands, blue sky and clear, clean, warm water. Our next trip in two weeks is to Florida. We’re looking for a house to retire to, maybe, we’ll see. As much as I hate to admit it sometimes, Chicago has been home for 6 years. Before Chicago, New Jersey was pretty gloomy too. Gloom may just be my destiny. I hope not.
    I was so happy to get your card. I think of you, Cole and Joe and how you took such good care of Sammy. You are, were very special people.
    Love, Michele

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