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SuperJoe

February 5, 2013

Aunt Jenny just reminded me of a story to tell about the typical heroics of your father. He loved to help and wanted to make things better for everyone, especially Jenny. He was a big brother and took that role seriously.

So the stage was set one warm summer day when Joe-your-dad and Jenny were out riding their bicycles with a friend. Jenny was about eight and Joe was about ten, and they were enjoying the freedom that “riding around the block” afforded them. Most times it was a safe trip.

One exception to the safe trip was when the group stopped to visit a couple of other kids four houses down from home and, after parking their bikes, were hanging around an overgrown and unshapely Japanese yew near the street. Lurking within that yew was a nest of bluejays. I am pretty sure that bluejays are birds that none of us should ever mess with. We had experience with them before, twice. They look pretty, but if you look very closely you can see a bit of evil in the eyes, and maybe even some evil in the crest of those males. This was our third experience with those males attacking one of our males. Once it was Grandpa Frank, once it was Grandpa John, and this time, it was Joe-your-dad.

He said he was minding his own business, hanging around and being as cool as a kid can be, when one of those birds decided to ascend from the Japanese yew and attack his head. PECK, PECK, PECK, the thing went, with your dad running those four houses home, dripping blood down his face in the most ghoulish fashion. He insisted he did nothing to provoke the bird and I believed him, because I had seen it before. DANG those bluejays anyway!

But that was not the stage that was set when Joe-your-dad decided to save your Aunt Jenny. Still on the other side of the block, Jenny was riding along on her bike with Joe and his friend following. While looking at who knows what, Jenny ran directly into a parked car and she and her bike bounced off of the car in slightly different directions. The bike landed. Jenny landed. Joe was horrified, and after a cursory check to see that Jenny was still alive while thrashing around on the asphalt and gravel, he took off at break-neck speed to save his sister. He was heading home to tell adults, to call for help, to get first aid, to do anything that needed to be done.

He was SuperJoe.

His caring and compassion for his sister at those moments could be matched only by the pure of heart. He did that a few other times, too. It was really quite impressive to experience such purity of love.

SuperJoe was heroism in action until he forgot one of the most important rules of being a hero: look out for number one, first. If one does not look out for number one, all others trailing behind could be in serious peril.

SuperJoe rounded the curve on the way to going home, and in some of the same gravel his sister had found herself, his super bike slipped and failed him. He skidded spectacularly (SuperJoe couldn’t do it any other way), and fell to the asphalt. But he wasn’t finished. SuperJoe proceeded home with bloodied knees, scraped arms and banged up face, and without a thought for himself, he told me about Jenny. While bleeding and panting, he told me that she was lying in the street, hurt. He was quite amazing.

In the meantime, Jenny and the neighbor boy had made their way home. They were walking with their bikes. There were no dents on either bicycles or children as they approached. Jenny had the tiniest scrape on one knee that I couldn’t even categorize as a skinned knee.

SuperJoe sat with a huge grin on his face. He had saved the day, and with one bloody grin, he touched a part of my heart that wasn’t easily reached.

Later I saved him with some cleaning up and bandages, and a great big thank you for being Joe.

I didn’t thank him for being SuperJoe. I never told him, to this day, that I had thought about SuperJoe. I thanked him for being Joe. He was a pretty good guy. I remember him.

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