I remember the call. GiGi over at the women's shelter called to tell me that Joe Womack wanted to make a donation in my mother's name. Boy, that was typical Mr. Joe.
It was thoughtful. Joe had 5 daughters, bless him. He knew I was the President of the Board at Women and Children First. He was surrounded his entire life by women and children. It probably made sense to him. And he probably took it no further than that.
It was useful. Mr. Joe was an engineer and was nothing if not practical. Until they are authorized by the Comptroller of the Treasury to print money, WCF will always need help from the public. As the old saying goes, "A gentleman is also a useful man." Mr. Joe was the poster child for the expression.
It was kind. Mr. Joe cared about his church and his fellow parishioners. Despite being sick with what turned out to be his second round with pneumonia he took communion to the home bound. He had to have felt terrible. Indeed, one of the neighbors called Cathy to tell her that she noticed that he seemed to struggle making the walk from his mailbox to the house. This was after he had gone to visit a shut-in.
It was no big deal. He didn't tell me he was going to do it. He just looked up the number in the book and took care of it. He lived and prayed not as the hypocrites. He just quietly went about doing good. It occurs to me as I type this that I was supposed to give him a tour of the shelter. I forgot. Goddammit.
Mr. Joe passed away yesterday after existing on some form of life support off and on since January. I sat by his bed for a couple of hours last Friday so Cathy and the church ladies could have a break. Vigils are hard. Been there. So I got to see him one last time.
But it was time. Indeed, how he had managed to live this long was amazing. I would have checked out last March. As a friend of mine that used to be a nurse at the VA once told me, "Your number ain't up until it's up." That makes as much sense as anything I guess. To try to figure it out would just give you a migraine.
This much I know. Never was a father better loved or better cared for by his daughters. They left absolutely nothing on the playing field. They fought the good fight by his side. What a roller coaster this has been for them. Surely, they are now entitled to a measure of the peace that has been granted unto their Dad.
I also know that it is a small world. My late friend Alicia and her family along with other folks in Thibodaux lit candles and sent prayers up for Mr. Joe. Cathy and the girls sent prayers that way too. Cathy wants to get in contact with Ronnie. We can do that. What an amazing world. What an incredible year.
Our Jewish friends refer to their departed mothers as being "of blessed memory." Now Jewish mothers are rightly entitled to a full measure of veneration. But why should they get all the fun?
Sometime soon we will gather to say goodbye to and celebrate the life of Joe Womack. I don't think much about Heaven. Maybe for Joe it will be a quiet place to read, an empty bathroom and no boyfriends. Maybe, as Alicia's daughter has suggested, Mr. Joe will get to meet the devout Catholic lady who fretted about him.
Who knows? This much I do know.
The world was a better place because of Mr. Joe.
Of blessed memory.