Joe


Joe is my grandfather. Like most people, I did have two, but Herman passed when I was just a toddler and I have no real memories of him. Joe is the one I remember. He was always there from my childhood until just before my kids became adults of their own.

Joe was born August 31st, 1917. He passed yesterday, January 19th, 2015 at the age of 97. Yesterday was also my mother’s & his daughter’s birthday. During the last three days of his life, knowing that the end was near, more than 4 dozen
friends and family members came in from all of the country to say goodbye.

Joe Skelskey, age 15, in his basketball uniform

Joe was preceded to the ether by two wives, Charlotte & Kathleen, and his son, Bob. But in addition to the 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchilden he is leaving behind, we discovered in these last days that he also left a girlfriend. Joe moved into a retirement community at 93 after Kathleen passed. During his stay there, everyone fell in love with this
generous, proper gentleman, but there was one special friend he had, another Charlotte. Only in the last days did we find out from Charlotte that they had been a couple.

Joe played basketball in high school and in the semi-pro leagues that predated the NBA. He served in the armed services during WWII. He worked at Pratt & Whitney, but spent 37 years working for the United States Postal Service in Bristol, Connecticut where he retired as Post Master General.

Joe and his martini

Like most grandfathers, to me as a child he seemed ancient. He always was old. Despite only being 57 when I was born, he had lost pretty much all his hair, and what was left was white. While he continued to lose more hair as he aged, it never really altered the way he looked due to how much he had already lost.

When I was 15, I learned a hard lesson on mortality that affected my life greatly. My father had a quadruple bypass at the age of 47. Unlike many teens who think they are immortal, I knew just how fragile humans were. It’s led me to be concerned about my parents’ health for a quarter century now. But I never worried about Joe. Joe seemed immortal. He was always in good health. He was
always sharp of mind. Even at the end, he had moments when he cut through the fog of the medications he was on to share a joke or story or to laugh at one shared with him. the last thing he was able to eat or drink was a martini, a
drink he loved all his life.

Joe isn’t with us anymore. But he isn’t gone. Instead he is dancing eternity away with his friends and family in the place where souls are happy. In the meantime, until those of us on Earth can join him, I know he’ll be watching over
us.

I miss you Grandfather.