With very little notice, we headed to Pennsylvania. My husband's uncle had passed away. My mother-in-law's only living brother, the patriarch of a branch of the family that specialized in strong, savvy girls and quietly smart, sweet men.
Joe's high school nickname was "Giggles."
Joe told his wife daily that she beautiful as any movie star.
Joe worked for GM for thirty years.
Joe served in the Army in World War II.
His family laid him to rest on a sunny Monday, Labor Day, and one of the celebrated dates of V-J Day. (The day the surrender document was signed.) As the procession wound its way from the funeral home, through the neighborhood where he lived, to the cemetary, his fellow vets stood - on their porches, their stoops, in their driveways - at attention as the cars drove by. The respect conveyed by that gesture? I'm not sure I've seen its equal, and I have no words to describe.
In our selfish, self-centered age, to see a thoroughly selfless man celebrated? To see family-- duty-- small daily acts of love valued in such a profound way? Humbling is only the very tip of the iceberg. And there could never be celebration enough.
My heart goes out to his wife of 65 years, his daughters and their families. I'm so amazed at the eloquence with which his granddaughter and grandson spoke. And I'll be thinking of them - and of him - for a long time.
Rest in peace, Joseph Wolk. It was a real honor to know you and to be welcomed into your family.
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