Monday, February 24, 2014

Joe (Moonlight Memories)

Something that Joe said last week in our group gave me a lot to think about. I want to remember it here. There is something sad about the way the world sees him, but something so incredibly beautiful about the fact that he chose to speak these words to us. I think it means he knows that all of us at the table are just the thing he needs, and just the thing that everyone needs - true friends.

"Many people look at me and just see my disability - that and my age - and they ask me if I need help. I know they are trying to be nice, but I don't really like it when they say that. I want to tell them, I don't need a nurse. I need a friend."

I hope in these three stories (two of which are shared here as text, one as video) you see the Joe I know - a great person, a great friend.

Joe Garrison
Moonlight Memories

When I lived in North Philly, our postman knew a lot of people whom he delivered mail to in the neighborhood.  This one summer, he was selling tickets to an evening cruise on The Spirits of Philadelphia.  I decided I wanted to go.

I had never been on a dance cruise so it was quite an adventure.  It was on a Saturday night, early in the summer, the weather was perfect.  I was accompanied by one of the girls in the neighborhood.  I was in my late 20’s, not married.  I was excited.  It was my first cruise anywhere.  I kept anticipating, imagining how large the ship was going to be.  I believe I had a blue leisure suit on.  When I saw the cruise liner, I was amazed by the size.  When it was in motion, you couldn’t tell you were moving.  Dancing was just like dancing on a stationary dance floor.

I remember the music more than anything.  I was impressed by the music.  I made friends with some of the people on the cruise.  It was mostly slow dancing.  But I tried my hand at some of the faster dances too.  The “hustle” was a popular disco dance in the 70’s.  We danced all night.  The cruise ended at around 2am.  It started at 9am.  There was an intermission in between.  When you got worn out from the dancing, you could rest up for a little while.

I was exhausted at the end, in a good, happy way.  It was so enjoyable.  The experience of being on a ship, enjoying the music. What a memorable night.

Joe Garrison
Three Memorable Early Springs

Spring is here, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, the weather doesn’t show it.  I seem to remember a time when there were early springs, when the weather warmed up by the end of March.  I remember three springs in particular; one when I was 9, one when I was 16, and one in 2007.

When I was in the fourth grade, I remember when we looked forward to going to our annual trip to the zoo.  We loved to go to the zoo and see the animals, except for one year when they showed us this huge snake – they called it a king snake – and I touched it.  I don’t how this started, where this nasty rumor came from but everybody at school started saying “Joe kissed a king snake!  Joe kissed a king snake!”  No matter how much I denied it they wouldn’t stop.

The next early spring I was in high school, I went to my first high school dance.  I was enamored with this girl named Ruth and my thrill was going on a date with her.  Picking her up at the door and taking her to the dance; the whole idea of taking someone to a high school dance.

The most recent early spring was 2007.  To me, every day seemed like spring because I was so in love.  I was on one of those SEPTA local trains; I was going home from visiting a friend.  I sat down and started talking to this woman but it didn’t feel like she was really there.  It felt like I was talking to Deborah.  The force of my love for her was so strong in my mind; it felt like she was really there.

Memorable moments can come at any time of the year. No matter how funny or serious it is, every moment is precious and has a special meaning.