Papa Joe died peacefully about 9 a.m. this morning. His attorney had called me a few days ago and we talked about taking a trip out to see him before he passed. The attorney, called back and said Joe had lapsed into a coma. I am so glad he didn't stay in a coma for a long tine. He is safe in the arms of Jesus right now. He was a man of integrity and grace and I loved him very much. He was 94. This is the note I received this morning from my cousin Bette Evangelista, his daughter.
I think I've written about Uncle Joe Egitto before, but here goes again. I have very few pictures of him, and I don't know why that is, except that he was taking the pictures. This picture was taken when he was a young man, and he was helping at a camp in Tennessee. I do have another picture of him, but I can't find it right now, and I wanted to get this notice up.
Uncle Joe spent a lot of time in Runnemede. He was married to Aunt Annie, my mom's closest sister. Aunt Annie loved to visit my mom and she and Uncle Joe would come any day of the week, just to visit. I think my dad and Uncle Joe got along real well, but I don't recall them in close conversation, because I recall that Uncle Joe was playing with us children whenever he and Aunt Annie came to visit. We all knew he really loved us.
Uncle Joe was a mentor to me. He played violin, beautifully. He was so good, and I loved to listen to him play. He often played the violin at our church as a special music number for our small congregation, all of whom loved him and his God-given ability to take a hymn and make it sound so beautiful. He never needed music in front of him to play those hymns, and dad would request a song and Uncle Joe would just play it. It was a great pleasure for me, when I was a teenager, and the church pianist, to accompany Uncle Joe's church solos.
When I took up the violin, when I was 12, he helped me learn how to move my wrist so that I could have that beautiful sound, that vibrato, that comes from difficult practice. I never felt that I got that part of violin playing down correctly, but he always told me I was doing fine and that I was getting better. He always encouraged me even though I know he was cringing at times when I played for him.
Uncle Joe took us to the shore in the summer. He was always so patient and kind and never seemed to mind getting his beautiful car(s) loaded with beach sand, or wet seats. And, I know now that he had to spend a lot of time cleaning up that car after the Drexler pack had ridden to the shore and back with him. He always treated us to dinner on the boardwalk, and I think I wrote about that recently, or maybe it was on Facebook. And he didn't cringe or go tsk-tsk when one of us threw up from being car sick.
We figured out how to avoid the throwing-up part after a few trips to the beach. I got a window, because I always got car sick unless I was in the front. Then I got the front window just to make sure I didn't puke. I know my brother Carl got car sick a lot, and he was given a window as well. Oh, yes, we always fought over who would get a window seat, but it was decided for us based on our ability or inability to hold down our breakfast.
I recall one of his cars had a running board and he would take us for a short ride up Second Avenue and let us ride on the running board. Not the safest thing to do, but back then there were no hard hats or knee pads or elbow pads and we held on tight. No one ever fell off, and no one ever got run over. It was just something we did for entertainment. Great fun!
I had missed Uncle Joe for many years, and finally found him a few years ago. I am glad the Lord gave me the opportunity to write to him a couple of times recently, and even to talk to him on the telephone a couple of times. God is good, and now Uncle Joe is with the Lord.
Goodbye Uncle Joe. You will be missed and remembered!