Our Friend Joe: Part 1

When I was a kid, we lived in Fountain Valley, Ca. We were a busy family … sports, school, friends, and vacations. My parents always made sure we were doing something and they were a living example of always being active. They had lots of friends and were always playing a sport or having friends over. Their favorite sport was tennis. That is where they met “M” and Joe.

Through the years, we spent a lot of time with M, Joe, and their two sons S & A. Vacations, special occasions, and family events. They lived in Huntington Beach, Ca, so we were close. M is creative, active, and has a great sense of humor. Joe had a brilliant mind. Computers were his thing. And like our family, they were busy with sports, friends, and vacations.

Fast forward … Joe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for his family to watch him become less and less mobile. Joe eventually lost all his motor skills, and M took care of him until his death.

No one likes to go to a funeral. For me, it takes a lot of mental prep for a few reasons. One, I am empathic, so I know I am going to pick up on everyone’s emotions, and cry the entire service. Two, I don’t want the spirit of the person we are there to mourn or celebrate, to visit me at their own service. I feel this way because it is terribly uncomfortable for me. It would be like if you were trapped in a box and you couldn’t move, but you had the worst itch that you couldn’t scratch … and the itch is persistent.

My family and I sit together, right behind Joe’s family. Probably not the best place to sit, because I can feel all of their sadness and anguish. I of course start crying as soon as we sit down. (Side note: at this point I realize I forgot my crystal … NOT good.)

The service begins and all is lovely, until Joe’s eldest son gets up to say a few words. The static electricity chills start on my right side. The chills are so bad that my head feels fuzzy and my teeth start to hurt. I then feel Joe standing right behind me. Anxiety kicks in and a little claustrophobia, because I am wedged between my husband and my mom, and I am in the second row of this huge church towards the middle of the bench … TRAPPED.

Joe’s spirit is excited. This takes me by surprise, because all of the years that I knew Joe, he was always mellow and subdued. Then Joe starts running up and down the isle to my right. Then he is jumping up and down saying, “Look what I can do again?”…”Tell them I can walk, talk, jump, move my arms … go on, tell them!!” His energy was making me a nervous wreck. I just put my hands under my legs, put my head down, and tried to talk Joe into waiting to talk to me until after the service

Joe wasn’t having it. He wanted to talk now, and he wanted me to stand up and tell them all right then and there. I don’t blame him, but I was not about to do that, especially in the middle of a Catholic church. I pleaded with him to just tell me his message and I would pass it on at a more appropriate time. He agreed and man did he have a lot he wanted me to tell his family.

This is what he said: “Look at my sons, aren’t they handsome? I am so proud of them both. They have wonderful wives, that I love, and they gave me amazing grandsons that I am so proud of. Tell my grandsons L and M that I was there when they got their badges for Boy Scouts last week. (The boys had on their Boy Scout uniforms.) Tell my wife that I appreciate her taking care of me and I am happy with the decisions that were made regarding my passing. Tell M that I am free from the body that has kept me a prisoner for years. Tell her I love her and I will always be watching over her and the entire family.”

Then he just stopped and went away. By then the service was about over. I could not wait to get out of there. I was sweating and exhausted. My husband could tell that something was going on because of my body language and how uncomfortable I was sitting through the service. A few times he had whispered, “Are you Ok?” “Is Joe here?” “Tell him to go away, that you can talk later.” I love my hubby for that. He always tries to help, even though he doesn’t understand fully what I feel and see, or he thinks it is just easy to tell a spirit to back off.

When we got out front of the church, I was a little out of it. I needed a time out and some water (wine). The reception was at M and Joe’s home in the track across from the church, so I was going to have to regroup on the short ride over there.

At the reception, I pulled my mom aside and told her what happened and we both agreed to tell M at another time. Let her get through this day and make a plan to meet with her alone soon. But, I did ask my mom what Joe meant by the decisions that M had to make about his passing. I did not know the details of his death, and my mom told me to wait and ask M when I meet her to give her Joe’s message.