Goodbye Joe

Joseph Blain Davidson… My Brother in Christ, my friend forever!

First on Joes behalf let me say thank you for loving and caring about a human being you never met. I often told Joe about you all that read my blog or have kept up on the comments I posted on Face Book about the man I kindly called “Crazy Nut!”

Once he was admitted into the nursing home Joe drifted mentally. If he didn’t see you on a regular basis he forgot who you were. Missy, Freddie and I found it very important knowing that due to his stroke his mind wasn’t as quick and sharp as it once was that being there was important to Joe but just as much, it was important to us.

Meeting and knowing Joe back in 06 was relatively easy. He would never go away. Everyone on the streets knew Joe as “Mouthwash Joe” therefore we adopted the name for him as well. However learning to love Joe was considerably a different story.

Born and raised in the hills of Virginia to alcoholic parents Joe learned to be uncaring and tough. The beatings his father gave him challenged every dream he had inside his soul, to die! Yet the only dream I can honestly say that was preserved without any question was his hope, his desire, his will to see his savior Jesus face to face. That, his father could not beat away!

He laid behind a building for 4 days some 18 months ago. The men were telling us that Joe was behind the building but we supposed he had passed out from the mouthwash he consumed religiously. He had had a stroke and we found him in ICU!

It was a long battle in ICU but the sheer willpower of a homeless man who knows nothing else but to survive kept Joes determination alive to live and see another day.

He did see many new days after a few scary moments of balancing on the edge of deaths door a few times in the hospital and once in the nursing home. He lived but still Joe was dying.

My husband could never get the staff to completely comprehend that Joe was a homeless man and to be under a roof and sleep in the comforts of a bed were not only foreign to him but things we take for granted he resisted with every ounce of his being!

He would find “ducks” (Butts of cigarettes/street slang) out in the smoking section of the nursing home and he was caught often sneaking out to smoke in between regular smoke breaks. I often found hidden cigarettes in the nursing home break room and lighter, that he himself would hide on the book shelf.

Because the stroke left him with very little ability to talk he would quickly raise his good hand up lifting one finger to his lips to indicate I was to be quiet and tell no one.

I only laughed knowing his secret was safe with Missy and I. We told no one, in fact I was impressed and so happy to see the Street Joe was still very much alive in what I’m sure he considered his prison of doom.

Too many times to count after many many visits to Joe I often said to Missy that I was going to miss that man. It took awhile, but I had fallen in love with Joe Joe.

You see meeting him was easy but loving Joe took time. You had to understand him by first understanding where he came from. He started to drink and smoke at age 8 and if it were not for the stroke…who knows the ending to that comment. Only God!

I have written one book about the men on the streets and I’m working on a second which has stories of Joe inside the pages trying to get people to understand homelessness isn’t about people making decisions to stop functioning in society so they can be drunks living on the streets in every city of America.

Homelessness is about Joe’s. We all need to be silent, lay down our prejudices and listen to words that explain how they ended up on a cement sidewalk. Their words cause your heart to beat a little faster and tears will make your eyes sting yet if you just listen… out of the shadows of a smelly bums spirit begins to sing a song only a musician of loving another’s life, could ever begin to write.

Once I allowed Joe to sing I understood God’s song. I can close my eyes and smell his smell and hear his laughter. I recall his stories and frantically sketch them into my mind hoping I won’t forget what was said.

The few days leading up to Joes death here on earth I was standing by his bed. We talked often about where he was going. His mouth laid wide open gasping for every breath of air that would fit into it. His eyes would roll back into his head and I would call his name.

He would turn to the sound of my voice and focus his eyes onto my face as I leaned down real close to his. I made sure he knew that I loved him and at one point he reached over with his good left hand and he grabbed a hold of my hand.

I wasn’t sure if he was scared and was reaching out to ask me to help him not to die. I didn’t even know if maybe it was because he couldn’t speak he was trying to show me that he cared. Whatever the reason, I knew my journey with Joe was finished and all I wanted to do was run away and cry.

Instead I again leaned in and called his name. He focused again and I told him, “I have taken you as far as I can go Joe, God has to take you the rest of the way. He released my hand and I knew my job was done.”

Tomorrow we are having a small service at the funeral home. He is having a paupers service which really means they would normally give him a box and take him to be buried. We have been given permission to have an hour alone with him. He knew many people and touched hundreds of lives.

Some very well to do people will be there and some of his homeless friends as well.

Meeting Joe was easy, Loving him came later, saying goodbye for now is very hard to do.


4 Responses to “Goodbye Joe”

  1. There’s nothing I can add. You said it so well. Rest in Peace, Joe.

  2. I adore this blog site layout ! How do you make it!? It’s very nice!

  3. I like this article so much, saved to my bookmarks

  4. I do not even know how I stopped up right here, but I believed this publish was great. I do not understand who you are however definitely you are going to a well-known blogger should you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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