Monday, May 24, 2010

joe! today was the first day of the joe hobie cat regatta.

while at the dinner tonight, some of the folks were saying that it felt different tonight...something was just seemed a tiny bit subdued...the food was great...the sailors were happy...the  sailing friends had fine stories to compare after a day of sailing on a windy, chilly spring day, many of the characters were the same....families who sail together....dads who who sail....some home from college...some who have been a part of the kids' sailing "careers"...joe's family... and lots more friends.

 the same people....with the same passion for sailing, the same community of sailors ....the same beach.....the same family...the same friends....some new sailors who had come into their own and were ready to take on a race...some non sailors who were there to share the excitement of the big race that is now an annual event.  it was a pleasure to see everyone back down at the beach....after a long, cold winter....folks who were enthusiastic to see familiar faces and longtime friends and kids who had grown inches since sailing back on labor day.

we all sat at our large round table  with the large white tablecloth and paper plates filled with ziti parmesan and chicken florentine and green salad with italian dressing and white plastic knives and forks and thin white paper napkins... big blue plastic cups filled with sprite and coca cola and orange drink in the big white house with the wood floors , white walls and high ceilings and damp air pouring in the open glass doors....while this years slide show randomly popped up photos of the race on a laptop computer over on the counter against the wall near the sodas...with some standing around talking in random groups....the same  rectangle folding table with a large white tablecloth and different desserts this year.  everyone at the  table had stories  to tell.....about the winter...about our kids, the sailing, the winter, their lives back in their hometown or some year rounders telling of flooding last talked about college sailing teams....and college life...and plans for this summer.  then, someone quietly mentioned reflectively that this year felt different....we all thought for a minute....that's when it dawned on me! "if joe were here, tonight would be different!" i blurted.  one of the guys thoughtfully responded...."that's true...but if joe was here, we wouldn't be here because we wouldn't be having his race!"

we all chuckled.  we had to laugh.  joe would have loved that.  we missed him, it was different without joe as it had been for the last two years down at our sailing beach....joe would have had some smart alec quip for me after saying all seemed so ironic that because joe wasn't seemed a bit subdued...people were tired after a long day of sailing...exhausted actually. the idea that this event was all happening because our big teddy bear of a man with an even bigger booming voice and a different color tee shirt for each day of the week  for each session of sailing classes and a big brimmed sun hat with a cord to tie it down to his balding head  and scruffy beard that was gently going grey and a wildly patterned bathing suit and a well worn life jacket and sandals and a generic town issued clip board and at all times, a  keen knowledge of the caliber of his sailors on hand  and the stern voice barking out demands of each one and a stern voice of a leader  who didn't want to have to get "pissed off" enough to have to curse and be forced to get even louder because of someone's ignorance, stupidity, laziness, ineptness, sloppiness.....and he had a gasket waiting to be blown if there was any wiseguy  attitude, entitled attitude, cocky attitude, spoiled rotten brat demeanor, disrespectful tone,
and an even keener eye and greater sensitivity to know just who to put on each boat and with who based on personality, skill, boat, requests  and some choice words were truly respected because after one afternoon out on a boat solo for the first  for anyone who didn't follow his orders....or just plain bothered him due to lack of sincerity.  he knew each one of "his kids" and knew exactly what their personalities were, what they could handle and how capable each one was, how far he could push them, how much he could depend on them or not.
a man who never spoke a soft word in his life, i  can't say that he spoke softly but carried a big stick!  his big barking kept everyone jumping and
for a man with a big bark and an intimidating style, joe had the respect of most.  no matter what, everyone was clear about one thing.....joe knew sailing and he knew it well  no matter who, what, where or when, joe knew everyone and knew how to network people better than anyone else.  he knew big guys, little guys, rich guys, poor guys, dreamers, achievers, school kids, moms and dads, families and sailing buddies!  he always knew where to send everyone with any boat problem or concern  and he knew where to get a boat, what type was best for you and who had one for sale!
joe was there....always there to help and make things happen.  even if he had to yell   or rant and rave, he would be over it as soon as he finished barking.  then he was on to the next thing...or maybe he'd buy everyone ice cream. then he'd settle down and sit and laugh and tell sailing stories...and all of the new kids and friends of kids would know that joe was the man who cared about them....really cared.  he cared enough to be real.  he told the kids the truth. he didn't coddle.  he didn't have the sensitive new age lingo that the kids have in school....where everyone is a "winner", everyone gets a medal, teachers have to be politically correct....maybe joe was the best thing that ever happened to us all....just because he was real.  he had the honesty and told everyone just what he thought....and then he would tell a kid how to improve...simply.  he bothered to criticize or remark on a kid's attitude.  maybe the world would be different if we had more guys like joe!  kids, grown didn't matter...joe told em like it was.  some were appalled...some were terrified....but joe was honest and he made a difference because of that honesty.  like a big bear...but a big soft bear.  now, that's comfort...that's safety...that's goodness....that's real....that's joe.  we all loved him.....very much!  and we respected his honesty...even if it hurt!  then we knew what had to be fixed! joe could fix anything on a boat...or he would know someone who strings attached...he was connected....just because he knew people...he was a good guy that people had fun with.  he had respect...from so many....we miss him. this weekend everyone sailed for honor of him.....that's cuz joe taught us all how to be better sailors!  he changed lives.  really, he changed sailor at a time.

a passionate sailor who was even more passionate about sharing the passion and empowering each sailor to challenge themselves and believe in their skills and push each sailor to their next "best" and give them hell when they did something "stupid!"  and the day i was sailing the sailboat right towards the committee boat, the power boat that he used during the sailing i approached out of control....very out of control.....joe bellowed at me  and he may have been heard all the way across the long island sound, "MAMA MIA!!!!" and he continued some other fine words...and blasted me with orders to push or pull the tiller, let out the sail or let out the jib!  whatever it was that he  barked at me, he directed me away from my potential crash...and allowed me to almost swipe it instead!  then, his sailor words began to sail across the sound.  

i had nervous laughter....even though he bellowed and was crazy mad that i had done something so mixed up. and out of control...ironically, whenever he yelled at me, ii knew it was yelling because he cared and he wanted me to be a better sailor!  he knew i could do it.  he pushed me and pushed me to dare to try again and again! 

he may have been big and loud and sunburned and frustrated and bothered....but if i laughed and shouted back at him, he seemed to respect that more than if i had cowered at his bark!  then, he would come back and have some very funny comments about my mistakes....he would shout out more and make sure everyone  understood just what the mistake was!  not to shame me....but to keep everyone aware of how to stay on course.   joe was  sensitive and a gentle giant!

he was like a piece of sea glass on the shore....

seaglass is always  a surprise.  walking along the beach, we see rocks, broken a variety of shells, pebbles of all shapes, sizes  and colors driftwood, an occasional  horseshoe crab  that are delivered to the edge of the  water as it continues lapping or crashing on the shore.  everyday brings something different.  everyday brings something beautiful.  then, as you walk looking at the shoreline and ....**POP**....a beautiful bright color appears on the sandy beach! there are millions of pebbles and shells and then *POOF* catches your eyes!  each sharp piece of glass has been  softened by the tossing and turning, rolling and rumbling of the surf!  when you spot it, it's like a gift...a gift made by the natural changes of having something so sharp have the that big beautiful have turned that broken glass into a softened, mellowed and sweet piece of sea glass that is like artwork.  you may pick it up...quick! before the next wave takes it away....and you miss your chance!  you catch your sea glass...just because the color jumped out at you from the mix of beach life....and once you see a piece, your day is brighter....a little gem to savor and enjoy.  take it home....keep it where you can delight in the colors all together .....from different beaches....different times...different weather.  one piece of beautiful sea glass can be a surprise while we walk on the beach!  it's like a only find those gems every once in awhile.  when you find it, you just have to save it...because it made a difference. it was a surprise, it was special....there was no piece of sea glass like another....individual beauties...all sizes and shapes and colors and textures....each with a different origin....and it is worth saving and savoring the goodness and the bright color that caught your eye!  it was different than the other stuff on the beach! 

sea glass....just like joe!

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