Just Oustandingly Extraordinary

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
A memoir – a simple, yet touching memory of my life with impact on who I am today. As easy as I thought this assignment would be, it was much harder. I had the original intention of writing about my mom or my dad, something related to my family, but somehow I managed to realize that there was a bigger picture of which I am a part of. You’re probably confused, and wondering what I’m talking about, so here is a story from 1998 that impacted me as we speak today.

1998 was the year we moved into our house. We had lived in an apartment – many different ones actually, up until then. Our house was beautiful; it was a lot more spacious than an apartment for sure. However, the one striking thing about moving into a house is that you now have ‘neighbors’. Now, it’s not like you don’t have neighbors in an apartment complex, but their much closer and by much closer I mean there ‘home’ is stuck to your ‘home’. I realized many people go on for several years without ever knowing who their neighbors are. We were introduced to our neighbors right as we moved in. Just a side note, this may seem like a random story about how amazing my house is, or how awesome my life was after we moved into our house, but it’s not.

Anyways, a couple of months had gone by and while we started to get into the rhythm of things, we met someone, a new someone, our ‘backdoor neighbor’. By backdoor neighbor, I mean our garages faced into the ally way and that’s how we continued to meet for the next ten years. I was only eight at the time, so I vaguely remember this day, but I do remember going out into the garage to throw out the trash and introducing myself to him. He came right up and said “Hi, my name is Joe” and I replied with “I’m not allowed to talk to strangers, and I don’t want your candy.” With that I walked away.

The very next day, my parents took me out to meet Joe and this time I really did say hello and he just smiled. At the time I took him to be an acquaintance, just your usual “Hi, howya doin?” kind of person, but as I look back on the memory he was much more than that. From that point on, Joe and I met often, and often was every other day for the past ten years while he was outside washing his car, gardening, mowing the lawn, doing something outside. There was never a day where we didn’t see Joe outside, and at times I thought he must have been having a tough time with his wife, Jean.

One day, Joe introduced me to Jean, probably when I was nine or ten, I don’t quite remember the exact age, but I had actually gone a year or two without ever meeting her. She was just as amazing as Joe, except an indoors person because of her allergies. Since we always met outside in our ally way, we never really had the need or intention of going to each others houses. It was just a meet and greet outside, until recently. Many years have gone by and until two weeks ago we never stepped foot in Joe’s home. What was the reason? Joe had cancer.

He was telling us about the cancer and how the next day he was going to have chemotherapy, so my sisters and I decided to whip up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies and bring it over to Joe and Jean. When we got there, it was nothing at all like we had expected, it was plain, but with a sense of home and comfort built in. We talked to them for awhile. I told them about graduation and how they better be there on June 5th to see me walk across. And with a reassuring smile they both said “Of course!”

Later that day, I got home and I sat and stared at the wall. Joe had cancer. I really couldn’t believe it. I sat there thinking about all the times we had met outside and what we did in those times. I flashed back to a time where my parents had guests from out of town over and were giving them company. I felt bored so I went outside to the garage and attempted to learn how to ride the bike my dad had bought me when me moved in. After numerous falls, I felt a hand at the back of my seat, it was Joe. He taught me how to ride a bike that day.

In the grand scheme of things, learning to ride a bike doesn’t seem like much, but looking back on it, it really was. Just three days ago I found out that Joe survived the chemotherapy and he was doing well, so earlier today I went to go meet him. He was outside. It was five ‘o clock and Joe was pacing slowly in the garage ally, to get some exercise. I went over to him and he was talked to me about my future. He asked me to promise him that I would never give up on my dreams and that I would work hard for each penny that I earned. I replied with a smile. It was a beautiful moment, the sun was setting right down the center of our ally and there was a slight breeze you could feel from all of the trees surrounding us. I told him I would work hard each and everyday to fulfill my dreams, and that was my promise to him.

I sit here thinking about all the times we have met and spoken to each other. Aside from my parents, he has watched me grow from an immature eight year old to a well somewhat mature eighteen year old. He has always been there for me. As a veteran of the Korean War, you could never tell he served in the army, until he told you.

I pray for him, his long life, and his presence on June 5th because he means the world to me and without him I don’t think my life would be the same. As cliché as that sounds he was Just Outstandingly Extraordinary – he was Joe.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback