|Dear Clementine and Rocco (and Ellen):
I am so sorry that I cannot be in Brooklyn today to say good-bye to your dad and see you and
hug you. I wanted to take this time, to write down for you some of my favorite memories of
your dad, so you will have lots of ways to remember him as you get older. Your dad had a lot
of friends, and I feel so lucky to have known him. He loved the three of you so much and was
an inspiring friend, father and partner.
I remember the first time I met you dad. Joe was wearing short, tight, gym shorts, long white
striped gym socks, had very creative facial hair and was wearing 70s style sun-glasses. Your
dad always rocked funny vintage t-shirts, crazy plaid shirts and all sorts of things that most
people wouldn’t even try to make fashionable. So you know- your dad (and your mom)
were/are very cool. And your dad was the perfect cool, because he made everyone he was
hanging out with feel cool, too. Joe was always genuinely interested in what was going on in the
lives of his friends and your mom’s friends – which is why he was so special to so many of us.
He was fun, funny, warm, silly, and had a hilarious sense of humor.
He liked to meow, which many of us thought was really funny.
Your dad never talked smack about people, even when all us gals would gossip, your dad
never had bad things to say about anyone.
He was always up for a good time. He was always ready to go out for a drink and equally
enthusiastic helping out friends in need. I remember when I was very pregnant with Charlotte
(or Chacha as you mom and dad like to call her … ) there was a big hurricane that was set to
hit Brooklyn, hurricane Irene, the week before my due date. We were sitting around your
dining table and your dad told me if I went into labor during the storm, I should call him, he
would drive us to the nice hospital in Park Slope, I shouldn’t call an ambulance, because they
would take me to a not as nice hospital.
Your dad was a fantastic cook and I’m sure you’ll hear a bunch about how he did almost all
the grocery shopping and all the cooking for you guys when you were little. And your dad
didn’t just heat up fish sticks and make a box of Kraft Dinner (that’s Canadian for boxed
macaroni and cheese) – he made DINNER for you guys and whoever else happened to be
around the table on any given night. I was lucky to have had the chance to sit around your table
with your parents, and Jessica, Tamar, Sarah and others on several occasions. Your dad
would make sure we all had a glass of wine or a beer, he would put out French bread and olive
oil for dipping, while he cooked up all sorts of yummy things. Last year for Hannukah, your
parents threw a party for all of us and your dad cooked up a leg of lamb! That’s the kind of
guy he was … not just potato chips and Cheetos for a party for his friends … but a whole leg
of lamb. And it was delicious. Also, just to mention one more of his signature dishes … right
after you were born, Rocco, we all went to the Jersey Shore. Becky and Adam, Nikka and
Dave and Oscar (Nikka was pregnant with Edie), I was there with Josh, and Jessica, and of
course Clementine and your mom.
Your dad did ALL the shopping for our stay at a motel off the boardwalk, so we could cook
lunch and dinner together. The first night he made braised short ribs. Seriously, braised short
ribs. And later that evening or the next, he strapped you onto him in a baby bjorn, grabbed a
beer and we all walked along the boardwalk. We were hanging out in Nikka and Dave’s
room most of the time at night, and your mom had a baby monitor in her room so we could
hear you if you woke up.
Your dad was a really great dad. He loved and adored you both. He called you “My Rocco”
and “Clem or Clemy” a lot of the time. Your dad inspired many of us on how we could also be
parents. Fun parents, who loved doing things with their kids, as if your kids are your best
friends, but of course still as a parent. He had rules for you and was fair about things. He loved
you guys so so so much! He loved all the little ones on Ocean Ave. and all your other little pals
too. He would take you to the playground at Prospect Park all the time and we will all
remember the great birthday parties for both Clementine and Joe in the Nethermede. I can
picture Joe now, trudging through the park with a cooler on wheels, a folding table under one
arm and either Clementine or Rocco holding his other hand.
And your dad REALLY loved your mom. I looked to your parents as an example of what I
wanted in a relationship and a partnership. Your parents were supportive of each other, their
work, art, passions, friends and most important family. Your parents made time to spend
together, and made sure that the other person had time for themselves too, in addition to all the
fun you had together as a family. Your parents respected each other and were a perfect team.
Family was essential and a huge important part of life for your mom and dad. Your dad loved
your grandma Nan, and your grandfather and your Uncle Todd and Marcello and Clarice.
And Jono and Jeremy and your other grandparents, too. And he loved all his friends and your
mom’s friends (who also became his friends) like family.
Of course you know all about your dad playing baseball and being in a rock band. Lots of
people to share lots of their great memories of your dad, I just wanted to add these.
He was a really fantastic person and we are all going to miss him so much.
We all love you and your mom and want to do everything we can to always support you and
help you remember all the wonderful things about your dad.
Much love. Alexis
|The love he had for his family will be his legacy, of
that I am sure. As the years pass and the videos are
watched and the photos are looked at and the stories
shared, I know that Clem, Rocco and Ellen will
remember his great and generous love.
We have a word for people like Joe. We call them
“Q”, which is our short-hand for saying “Quality”.
Joe was Q in a way that very few people are.
Love Sarah Shipley
|Over the years it became clear to me how much
family mattered to your dad. He loved each of you
deeply from the moment you arrived. He took great
pleasure and joy in you. He put you before other
things in his life and worked hard to make sure you
were cared for.
It is an understatement to say Joe will be missed. In
Judaism we say, "May his memory be for a
blessing." There is no doubt in my mind that our
memories of your dad will be a blessing. You will
have many stories and pictures and images of him to
draw upon. You will have the love of so many
people who love you - your family - who loved Joe
and who Joe loved.
With much love and respect, Jenni Mangel