I have struggled for days with how to write an article about someone who is as special as Joey. I love words. I believe in the power of words. I have “prided” myself on being sort of a connoisseur of words. But there are some things words just cannot capture, some things one cannot make words do. Expressing the magnitude of losing Joey is one of those things. Telling how much he is loved is also one of those things. So I won’t pretend what I write here will do justice to him or his life, to the kind of man he is. That’s not even my intent. My intent is to share just a little of my heart and to honor him, for he is worthy of that—at the least.
You may have noticed that I have not written about him in the past tense. I will not write about him in the past tense because although we use the term “passed away,” Joey is not past. He presently, and for all eternity, lives in the presence of the Lord, in a place far better than where we all are now. And while his family and friends know that to be true, what is also true is that every one of us would rather he be here with us. Selfish? Maybe. But it’s the natural response to the temporary separation from someone who means so much.
I did not expect my day to begin on February 28 with a call at 4:57 a.m. from Joey’s sister and one of my best friends, Kristi King. I clearly remember her saying, “Sissy, can you come to my house? I need you.” I was there within minutes, as she lives a mere six houses away. Nothing could have prepared me for what she told me. I don’t know if she remembers the words she used, and I don’t want to share them here, but I hear them over and over, even when I’m not expecting them.
I can’t wrap my brain around it, and I find myself saying often, “This sucks!” and “I hate this!” It does, and I do.
Here’s the irony: Many times, people suffer before they leave us. No one ever wants that. No one ever wants loved ones to suffer. Yet no one is ever prepared when they don’t suffer—when they are here one moment and gone the next. Joey gave us no warning. He was here; then he is there—with Jesus.
What an impact. I’ve been to many visitations directly followed by funerals. But I don’t believe I’ve ever been to a visitation that had to be halted because people were still lined up to the parking lot when the funeral was about to begin—where an announcement had to be made that people who hadn’t yet had a chance to greet the family would have to do so after the funeral. I’ve never heard of a local store setting up a table to honor someone because he frequented the establishment several times a day and lit up the place with his smile each time. But that’s what was done for him.
I still see that smile and hear his laugh. No one laughs like him. And if no one else laughs, that’s okay because he cracks himself up! That’s what I heard person after person talk about at his funeral and comments I’ve read—his laughter, his disposition, his helpfulness, his kindness, his gift for music…
He and his family are especially precious to me. When I moved from New York several years ago, his family embraced me as their own. His mother is “Momma Earlene.” His father is “Papa Joe.” His brother, Greg, calls me “Sister.” His sister, Kristi, is my “Sissy.” His wife is a dear friend. And he and all of his children, his grandchildren, great-grandchild, and the whole family made me an adopted “King.” He and his family did not have to accept me, but they did, with open arms—and I am so thankful.
Let me share a few memories:
Years ago, Joey came to my rescue when my car was stuck on the edge of Kristi’s driveway, where the concrete meets the woods—and a long way down. I can still see him getting on top of the car trying to weight it down so it wouldn’t tip over off of the driveway and down into the woods. He was telling me to give it gas to try to get it off the edge. I was about to mess all over myself, I was so scared! He should have been scared, too; he was the one on top of the car! I think that’s the day we sat and talked for at least a couple of hours about something that still means a lot to me.
I remember him working on my motorcycle for me and explaining why it had been running weird upon my moving to Missouri from New York—how different altitudes cause things to run differently.
Joey and I like to talk politics. That’s a subject that fires both of us up. Like motorcycles, we have that in common.
Then there are the sounds he makes after eating a delicious meal. I’ll leave it at that! He’s probably saying, laughing, “Go ahead! Tell it, Adrienne!” My response: “No, I will not!” Those who know him well already know exactly what I’m talking about!
Joey is special to me, and I fancy that I am special to him also. I mean, after all, he and Mary Pat named their first child after me—just decided to give her a different spelling for creativity’s sake. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
I wish I could make him reappear. I wish I could take away the pain his loved ones are feeling. I wish I could make holidays and special observances feel the same, but I know they’ll feel vastly different. But above all else, I wish everyone will hear what, no doubt, Joey would tell them as he relaxes in the presence of His Savior: The next day is not promised, nor is the next moment. Do you know Jesus as your personal Savior? If not, ask Him into your heart, ask Him to forgive you of your sins so you, too, can spend eternity with Him. And if you already know Him, draw even closer to Him and allow Him to have His way in the life He has entrusted you with.
Those who have accepted Jesus will see Joey again because there’s more to life than what we have here, 1 Corinthians 15:19 says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The joy in the midst of sorrow is that our hope is beyond this life, as Joey knows better than all of us now.
I love you always, Joey. Thank you for everything, brother.
What are beautiful tribute to an obviously wonderful person. God bless the family and all who love him.
Wonderfully written. What a privilege it was to know Joey. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories..