Somersaults and a Magic Blue Baseball Mitt

by Judy Griffin on December 19, 2012

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,  but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelo

Sweet Memories!


We add our special memories to his stocking each year.

A stocking for cherished memories










Ever since I can remember he was always there with a loving smile, twinkling eyes, and the best belly laugh.  He offered me love, support, kindness, protection, and so many life lessons. He always showed instead of told. He had such presence and truly was a gift to my family and me for 41 years.

I feel like the season of Joey starts by Celebrating his life at Our Annual Belmont Gathering around October 20. Then, we get a double whammy around Christmas since his Birthday is December 20. So, we do special things to honor him and celebrate his life.  We celebrate his birthday with a special dinner and  his favorite Devil’s Food Cake. I have a special stocking for collecting our cherished memories.

After he died nine years ago, the St. Agnes Mothers’ Club gave us a beautiful pine tree in his memory. It’s our “Joey Tree” and each Christmas we decorate it. We used to be able to put a Star on top but it has grown too tall over the years. This year we going with my parents, sister, and niece to see Christmas Story in NYC on his birthday.

My abundance of wonderful memories really feeds my soul.   I remember a fearful and shy little girl in 1st grade that just couldn’t do  a somersault. My gym teacher, Mr. Fetter  told me to go home and ask Joey to help me.  He knew that this little 2nd grade boy was special and Joey did just that. He sat up a series of pillows in our living room and like magic I was doing somersaults. I can still remember how proud I felt when I returned to gym class.

Then there was the blue baseball mitt. I watched my brother catch so many balls in Little League as he was a really good player. Now, when it came to playing softball in gym, I was far from being the first one chosen and Joey knew that. He practiced with me and eased my way. I can remember having so much fun playing running bases on the front lawn with neighbors.  One day he decided to give me that blue mitt and I don’t know what happened but it felt like magic. All of the sudden I felt more confident, hit the ball instead of striking out and managed to catch more balls than miss.  I proudly brought that mitt to school each day and got chosen much sooner.  I can still remember what that mitt feels and smells like. I only wish I kept it.

I cherish these memories and feel so grateful for his presence in my life and for all of the lessons he taught me.  It took me a while but I learned that when I feel happy I feel like he is with me.

Joey had such a gift with children. He was like the Pied Piper.  When my kids were little he called them “The Wrecking Crew.”  My family and I like to believe that he is one of the angels up in heaven watching over the  little ones that get taken too soon.

My prayer is that in time these families in Newtown find their own special ways to celebrate their children’s’ lives. I also hope that the families of the educators who lost their lives protecting these children find a path to healing by celebrating the lives of their daughter, mom, sister, grandmother, aunt, girlfriend, and cousin..

I would love to hear from you. How do  you get through the holidays when you are feeling more blue than bliss?

Joey called my kids "the wrecking crew."

Joey called my kids “the wrecking crew.”

Love decorating "Our Joey Tree" each Christmas.

Love decorating “Our Joey Tree” each Christmas.

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