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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lucky 13 - For Jojo Smith

I took an inventory.  It turns out I've written about the Smith family, or mentioned them, no less than 13 times on this blog.  I'm surprised....that it's not more.  This family has been a huge part of our world since we moved into this neighborhood in 1992.  I'm pretty sure I survived motherhood because of my friend Nancy.  I took notes.  They lived.  All six of them.  Her three and my three.  We're on the other side.  But....there was a support system in place.  And the Smiths know better than anyone how a support system works.

                             (Tim Smith, Averie, Kyle Smith, Branden Smith, Jojo Smith, Caris)

We've witnessed street hockey stories, BB guns on roofs stories, Mexico adventures, broken bones, blood, bruises, boys, boys, boys, crying girls, dummies in the street, dog jerky pranks, puppy delivered rat butts, koolaid hair, river camping, snipe hunting, watermelon floating, skimboard surfing, panaderia shopping, slingshot confiscation, ferris wheel death defying, Santa Johnny gift tosses, For Pete's Sake eye-rolling, Lookie-loo house tours, and the list goes on and on.  The fact is, no one outside our world, unfamiliar with Smithdom will understand any of this.  Nor would I expect them to.  I write this solely for me.  If someone else comes along and wants to fall into this world temporarily, so be it.

A dear one in our sphere, Joe Smith, or Jojo as he is affectionately known by the family, is teetering on the border between this earth, and whatever non-earthly realm he and his family believe in.  Jojo is, for lack of a better term, a one man lesson in "Whatever".  He never hesitated to roll with the flow, but he is also quick to roll his eyes at whatever might be going on in the ever-unpredictable Smith universe, and follow that eye-roll with an under-the-breath; "What a dumbass."  He is an on-call uncle.  Always there.  Always.  Beloved. 

When learning that Joe might be leaving us, The Grommet relays to me a story of the days when Joe lived across the street; "He would watch me play hockey in the street by myself, and he'd always tell me that I was going to make it to the NHL.  He said I was that good.  I love Joe.  He always made me feel like I could do anything I wanted to do, and he never let a time go by when I had my skates on, that he didn't tell me how good he thought I was."  I know there are many more stories with Bry and the Smith boys.  But, there's an understanding that is akin to Fight Club.  So I venture no further.  The stories will come, as they do, when the family gathers.

My favorite Joe story is one where I look at him as a glowing beacon in a seemingly unending dark tunnel.  It was almost 20 years ago.  We were trying desperately to make some improvements to our long-neglected home.  Charlie, Bryson, and I had spent days digging trenches, laying pvc sprinkler lines, grading, rolling, tamping down, and basically sweating blood in our front yard.  We were behind, and the very expensive sod that we ordered and had delivered was basically sitting on a pallet, dying.  We had been at it all through a long day, and we were losing daylight.  Suddenly, headlights from a vehicle was blinding us in the darkness, then another set of headlights.  Joe, my friend Nancy, their brother-in-law Kenny, their nephew Peter, and our other neighbor Ed, all standing in our driveway.  Joe called out; "Let's lay some sod!", and they made a bucket chain and began throwing squares of sod, one to another.  Within the hour, all of us had done what I would have considered the impossible, and we finished that lawn.  Nancy tells me Joe had been watching us, and wondering why Charlie didn't come over and ask for help.  Finally, in frustration, Joe decided that he wasn't going to wait to be asked, and formed a committee all on his own.  "That", says Joe, "is how it's done."

I know there are endless stories.  I listened to many of them as I sat in a hospital waiting room with friends and family.  You talk about your loved one.  You share the things that make you smile.  The memories that are dear.  There will be many more to tell, and the telling of them will bring peace.  But for now, my heart is with our dear, dear friends the Smiths, who have included us as family from the beginning.  In this family, there has been an abundance of amazing characters.  Joseph Smith is a powerhouse among them.

We love you Jojo.


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