March 27, 2011

Blunt Bites: An Old Italian Guy Named Joe

in Blunt Bites, Photo Posts

[ DISCLAIMER: Blunt Bites break away from my normal, detailed laugh-out-loud (right?) posts. They are like snapshots of a significant part of my life. Sometimes, they're serious. Sometimes, they're funny. But they're always gonna be delicious. Yum. ]

I met Joe while working at a retirement home and almost instantly, we connected. During my first week of work, he pointed out my dark hair and ever since then we’ve fought over whose Italian grandma made a better spaghetti sauce. Now, every time I see him he gives me a hug and says he loves me.

At night, sometimes he sits down and shows me the scrapbook his daughter made for his 90th birthday. It’s filled with pictures of the Navy, his three daughters and his late wife along with letters from all the friends, family and neighbors that he has meant so much to over the years. After reading those letters, you can tell just what kind of a life Joe lived.

After he turned 90, Joe told me that he finally realized he wasn’t going to live forever.  He said he wanted to start “doing things,” and he didn’t understand why none of these old guys “ever want to spend their money.” I told him that I didn’t understand it either, since money doesn’t mean anything anyway. We went through the activity book and I signed him up for every single thing.

I asked Joe if he had any advice, based on his experiences. He said, “Find a pretty girl like yourself and realize how lucky you are.” I laughed and responded, “Joe. That doesn’t really help me out very much,” and he said, “Oh, I think it helps you out more than you realize.”

Then he followed it up with, “Yea, I’m a flirt. So what? Keeps me young.”

When I asked if I could take his picture so that I could always remember him, Joe said he was honored that I thought he was worth remembering.

More photos: Indigo Photography

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey March 27, 2011 at 11:28 am

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Oh my goodness, that picture is FANTASTIC! It’s one of those special few that really captures the essence of someone, that lets you glimpse into their soul.

And thanks for making me feel all sappy, as if I need any help. ;)

maggie March 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

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wtf. you made me cry a little bit again. Is there a need?!
*ahem* wonderful lil’ brownie bite :) Everyone needs someone like Joe in their life, I think. . . to inspire us how to be when we’re old :)

I have a habit of striking up friendship with random old men in bars. It kind of annoys my friends/family sometimes. . . but y’know what, it doesn’t hurt me to have a dance with him, and if he thinks I’m special after all the life he’s lived, then that’s a bonus for my day!

Diane @ home sweet homemade March 27, 2011 at 11:32 am

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very touching essay and truly lovely photographic portrait. I don’t know how many snaps you took, but if you say just 1, I’d have to catch my breath in amazement. Mr. Joe here looks very fit and healthy at 90! GO JOE!

Blunt Delivery March 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

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Actually it was just one. it was almost dark out and we sat by the window before he went up to bed.

Lisa March 27, 2011 at 11:37 am

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He must have been fun. I have an 87 year-old friend and her total lack of caring what people think of her is hilarious. She even talks about her 79 year-old hubby’s inability to take ED meds.

SpilledInkGuy March 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

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A great story and a powerful photo, B.D. -
very nicely done!
:)

mole March 27, 2011 at 1:31 pm

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That was such a touching story! He looks amazing at 90 and that picture….oie! You can really tell the kind of great man he is just from that one amazing picture. Great job chica!
P.S. loved that dessert last night YUM!

Bearman March 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm

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I hope I am that sharp looking at 90 (and still flirting with the young things.)

Jillsy Girl March 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm

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Blunt…you are really pulling out all the stops here on this new blog facelift…I’m a bit choked up at the moment.

Superb portrait!

linlah March 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm

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They’re all worth remembering.

J March 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm

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Yup.

Almost cried.

Fantastic.

Ron March 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm

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OMG….what faaaaaaabulous story, Blunt!

Soooooooo touching! And holy cow….90 years old?!?!? You GO, Joe!

Your photography always blows me away! Freakin’ GREAT portrait! Love the black and white.

And I’m so happy to hear another Italian call it ‘sauce’ instead of ‘gravy.’ HA!

Hope you had a super weekend, girl!

X

Hannah March 27, 2011 at 7:19 pm

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I worked at a retirement home one summer in high school and I forever regret that I was so distracted being moody and miserable that I didn’t come away with any brilliant advice from people who I’m sure coulda taught me a thing or two about life.

Me March 28, 2011 at 8:09 am

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Great story, I love this guy! I hope that my character shows as plainly in my face when I get older – and that it’s a good thing!

Cheryl March 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

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I just cried a little bit.

Taylor March 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm

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Awwwe, this made my heart melt.

*uncorked March 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

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Oh Joe. Love this story. Love you. I love old men. They make me so happy and so sad at the same time.

snarky March 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm

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everyone needs a “Joe.” Mine’s a “Dottie,” and although she’s closing in on 80 this year, she doesn’t take crap from anybody! Not even Time Warner! She’s their worst nightmare.

I would LOVE for you to show my new store some love, but I can’t figure out how to email you the info. Can you email moi? It opens Friday! woot! http://www.etsy.com/shop/paperdiva

Kelly March 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

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He’s 90 years old?!?! Goodness he looks so good in that photo! YOU TELL HIM I SAID THAT!
I loved reading this story, reading about characters like him who have a rich and happy life. I smiled when he ended his sentence with, “keeps me young”.

needyounow March 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

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have questions about websites i know you see this before you reply to my lovely texts….text me woman! muah!

granny annie March 29, 2011 at 5:23 am

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I never met a Navy man I did not like:) That photo of Joe is a prize winner.

Thoughts Appear March 29, 2011 at 6:40 am

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Joe is 90? Never would have guessed. I hope everyone has a “Joe.”

NikkiB March 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

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“… realize how lucky you are and hold on.”

No truer words were ever spoke.

Johnny Utah March 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm

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I’m not sure he made that line up. I think I heard it on an episode of Veronica Mars once. Does he watch Veronica Mars?

Jen March 29, 2011 at 10:30 pm

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What a fabulous photo. It almost looks like a movie still. I imagine him walking off the page and going to hang out at his favorite barber shop or something. I love your last line. Priceless.

Valerie @ Life 4 me by me March 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm

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Fantastic photo, and there is no way he is 90. He is adorable.

Arts Web Show March 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm

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Now that is a wonderful friendship.

Denny DelVecchio March 30, 2011 at 10:30 pm

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That’s a beautiful love story for our time, Blunty.

Bless you.

Pauline April 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

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He sounds like quite the character! It was really sweet of you to create a little piece on him here! :)

Jas April 3, 2011 at 9:43 am

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So I found your blog while searching for blog layout designers – what a find! I love your writing so far – and this piece.

If I can be half as dapper as Joe when I’m old, I’d be content.

And I love, love, love the picture.

Gretchen Goodman December 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm

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It’s one of those special few that really captures the essence of someone, that lets you glimpse into their soul. Actually it was just one. They’re all worth remembering.

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