Monday, April 30, 2007 at 5:42 p.m. |
Joe Valeriote, at the age of 65, passed away on Sunday after a long battle with cancer. Joe had been a constant fixture at Christmas for years because of the close relationship he had with Bernadette, my father's partner. Joe was a kind man and someone that I respected a great deal.

To be honest, I didn't know Joe very well. In a way, I suppose that's all right. He spent the majority of his working years as an elementary school teacher. I've heard from many people, including one of my best friends, Chris, that he was a fantastic teacher. He was loved, respected, and appreciated.

But I can almost promise you that none of those students knew him well either.

That's the gift and the curse of teaching as I've come to understand it. I'm about to become a teacher myself and have only begun to see the fleeting nature of the connection between student and teacher. It's incredibly rare to see that bond continue once summer comes, once school is out, once a student has graduated and moved on.

Yet for this fleeting connection to a man I didn't know very well, there was a lot that I liked and respected about Joe. He always had a kind word to offer and whenever we spoke he was full of encouragement and enthusiasm about what I was doing. Somehow he always knew something, some small detail, about what was going on in my life. I wasn't one of his kids, but the fact that we were all gathered together each Christmas seemed more than enough for him to put out that effort.

Maybe it's a trick of the teaching trade, that ability to make everyone feel special. All I know is that now that I'm faced with the same career, I can't think of many other people who are excellent examples of all that I want to become.

There's never enough time, is there? Never enough time to talk, to get to know someone, to appreciate what it is that each person around you brings to the ongoing mosaic that is your life.

After so many years, I can't deny that the Valeriotes have become part of my extended family and as such I feel for their grief. They're a strong bunch and I have no doubt they'll get through this and celebrate Joe's memory in their own ways for the rest of their lives. Matt, J.P., Amy, Dani, and Nick... I'm truly sorry for your loss.
Posted by Parallel


M.Coop said...

..Very touching. I love it. He was a great person, just as you described.

2:36 p.m.  
Visit the Site
MARVEL and SPIDER-MAN: TM & 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc. Motion Picture © 2007 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 2007 Sony Pictures Digital Inc. All rights reserved. blogger template by blog forum