Full Circle – We Still Miss You Joe

Full Circle - We Still Miss You Joe

It is the anniversary of Joe’s death. Ironically, I fixed the garbage disposal this morning (thank you, YouTube). I say “ironic” because Joe and the garbage disposal were archenemies. When I was ticked at Joe, I would run the garbage disposal excessively. Passive-aggressive, but effective.

Every year around the time Joe died, someone will ask Cole or me if we still miss him. I usually answer with a thoughtful look, and then whoever asks the question usually answers it, “Well, of course you do” and pats some part of me. There are worse problems in the world than stupid questions followed by hand pats, so I just accept the token of sympathy as I’m sure it was intended and we move on. But, for the record, we do still miss Joe.

The last six months have been especially bittersweet. Cole’s 18th birthday and senior project came and went without Joe. Cole missed his dad’s involvement in the project, and I missed sitting next to him during the presentation and talking about it for days afterward.

The senior play was next. Joe would have been so proud of all the kids, especially the young lady who played Charlie. He claimed she had star quality from the first day he met her (way back in first grade), and he was right. He would have pushed the moms’ buttons, annoying them as he rearranged the concessions table and talked way too loudly. As I stood at the concessions table during the play, I could almost hear him say, “Well, they don’t have me to boss around anymore.” Too true.

The next event will be the end-of-the-year rose ceremony. In the fall, the twelfth graders each presented the first graders with a rose to welcome them to the school, and on the last day of school the first graders will present each of the seniors with a rose. It is the same ceremony Cole participated in when he was in first grade. We will have come full circle, without Joe. Damn it.

Graduation is on June 15th. Father’s Day. Are you laughing with me at the irony? When I told Cole, his first response was, “Well, that will be awkward for my friends.” Cole, however, will be surrounded by proud grandparents, family, friends and a rich community at graduation. In his dad’s honor, the departing senior class and their parents elected to give a donation to the Joe Ruscitti Sports Memorial Fund that was created at the school after he died. Being there in spirit is not the same as being present and accounted for—I won’t pretend differently—but Joe will certainly be a part of Cole’s high school graduation day.

My teen just called from Hawaii and asked me if I remembered what today was. I told him that not only did remember that it was the anniversary of his dad’s death, but I also knew exactly where we both were when his dad died. One of the things I have treasured most about living through Joe’s death with Cole is our ability to grieve and laugh. When I told him I had fixed the garbage disposal, he didn’t miss a beat before responding, “Funny how the garbage disposal outlasted Dad.” Indeed, it did have the last word. I asked Cole his plans for the day, which included some service work and then more time at the beach. He then mentioned that he might take the pill bottle urn of Joe’s remains down to the beach and scatter them with his classmates there. (In the way of a little background, when Cole was a sophomore, he asked if he could take some of his dad’s ashes on his New Orleans school trip. He wanted to scatter some on the ashes on the trip and freak out one of his classmates. Why not? I found a pill bottle, dubbed it an urn, stuck Joe’s name on it and filled it with his remains. Cole slipped the pill bottle into his backpack and away they went. Unfortunately, Cole forgot all about his dad’s remains on the trip and they never made it out of his backpack. I was amused. (Welcome to parenting a teen, Joe.) After the trip, the pill bottle urn became a permanent fixture in Cole’s backpack, with me checking in once in a while to make sure the urn was still accounted for, because it seemed to be the responsible wife thing to do. And that is why Cole has his dad’s ashes with him in Hawaii.) I agreed that spreading the ashes would be a lovely thing to do.

And I wonder if Cole remembers that his eighth grade class, teachers and parents spread some of his dad’s ashes on the beach close to his school on the first anniversary of Joe’s death, the week before Cole graduated that year. Don’t you love full circles?

Joe, we miss you.

28 thoughts on “Full Circle – We Still Miss You Joe

  1. Crying here my dear friend. I so wish I could have met Joe. Sending you and Cole tons of love and warmth.

    • Lordy the two of you together that would have been something. You would have liked one another :-D.
      Thanks for making up for lost time with me! ♥

  2. What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing Joe with us who did not actually have the pleasure of meeting him. I had not read the “anniversary post” and loved it all. You and Cole were blessed to have had that man in your lives even if it was not for long enough. Sending hugs and good thoughts your way.
    PS My bread turned out wonderfully—I think it was because it was Anniversary Bread!!!! And I didn’t even know it!

  3. Love the way you write about things – even very sad things. I also wish I could have met Joe. I am sure he is very proud of the young man Cole has become and proud of both of you for giving each other the strength to carry on.

  4. I remembered this morning the importance of this day. Joe had a “huge” influence on our lives. I remembered turning on my phone, after visiting California Institute of the Arts with Nathan, to find TEN messages from you. Never in all of our years of friendship had you or have you left me ten messages for any reason. I immediately knew something terrible had transpired. I just couldn’t find the words to comfort you. Every time I pass by my collage of pictures, I see the picture of Joe, no coat on of course, with Cole on his shoulders, Zachary, Nathan, Abby and Oma all standing on your front porch on New Year’s Eve, with typical Chicago freezing weather, making enough noise to annoy the neighbors! I miss Joe’s homemade chicken fettuccine and the martinis he would make for all events. I miss the noise of Joe fighting with the garbage disposal and the disposal always winning. You have an amazing way to express both the joy Joe brought to both you and Cole, as well as, the sadness of his loss. You are a blessing to many and I am grateful for our friendship which brought Joe then Cole into my life!

  5. I’m so admire at your (& Cole) ability to grief with humor. Joe would’ve been so proud. Just as he would’ve been so proud at Cole and you for fixing that garbage disposal.
    Thanks for making us part of Joe’s memories. Hugs for you and Cole! Xoxoxo

  6. Katybeth,
    You bring such warmth and humanity to your writing and experiences. I remember when this happened too and it is a special time of year. I am glad you observed the anniversary by repairing the garbage disposal. Did you also have a martini? Joe was so special and despite anything else he did, I will always admire how he dealt with our troubled girlfriend Paris and loved his family.
    Sending you hugs but no pats,

    • I’m waiting to having the martini until Cole gets back! 😀 Paris. She was an original. Are you sure she bit you?

  7. KatyBeth there’s so much love and sadness in your post. My heart goes out to both you and Cole. It’s wonderful to know that you’re surrounded by framily. You are both in my thoughts.

  8. Lovely. Joe would be/is so proud of you and Cole. You both amaze me. Joe was my friend and he gave me you both in his absence. I’m grateful.

  9. Doggone it, now I need another Kleenex! I must say, Katybeth, you really have a way with words. This post made me chuckle, made me shed a tear or two, and really made me wish I’d known Joe. How proud he must be of you and Cole — surviving (and thriving!) in his absence, yet never letting a day go by where he’s not missed. Yep, I imagine scattering some of those ashes in sunny Hawaii will be a very good thing!

  10. Sometimes people ask such clueless questions. ??? Anyway…..I can imagine Cole’s senior year has been challenging for the both of you emotionally. Sounds like you two made the best of a sad, at times, school year with a good balance. Remembrances with laughs & tears. Pat yourself on the back, Mom. You are the glue who keeps it all together with a great support system. I tend to believe in fate (nice job with the garbage disposal!). I also believe that Joe has been hovering over his family ever since. He is proud of the man Cole will become & the person who has made that happen. You! Touching tribute of Cole’s graduating class.

  11. You do have a beautiful way of weaving a story together. I am smiling and all teary-eyed at the same time. Sending warm thoughts your way.

    • Thank you Patti. Finding the humor and irony in the sad has helped us a lot. Always appreciate the warm thoughts.

  12. Katybeth, I previously did not read your postings about Joe and did not realize that June 2 was the anniversary day. Thank you for sharing what happened then and what has happened since. Your feelings come across eloquently, and I used up a few Kleenex in the reading. May 2 is my anniversary day, for Cindy, only one year ago now. Though her illness lasted 2-1/2 years. I think back to that day in 1980 when we met at the est training. A happier anniversary day. We will always miss our partner and friend, won’t we? *sigh* Props to you for getting on with things, doing your blog, and successfully raising your son. Joe would be proud. So should you. And Cole, too! (love that VW bug!) Take care.

    • So sorry it has taken me a bit of time to respond to your thoughtful comment. I’ve been graduating a teen. :-D.
      Thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry about Cindy. 1 year is a tough anniversary. I hope you had good friends and family to help you celebrate Cindy’s life and bare your loss with you.
      The bug. A whole other story. Thanks for stopping by Odd!

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