Joseph Robert Fazek was born on November 11, 1969. He was the first grandchild born in our family, and the first boy born in our family. He made me an Aunt for the first time. He was a much anticipated gift from God.
As Joey grew from a baby to a young boy, he exhibited a very outgoing personality, with a quick smile for everyone. He had been a "fussy" baby, to say the least, so his new emerging personality became such a pleasure to observe. The older he got, the louder he got, and he bacame the life of the party at every family gathering, and his presence was greatly anticipated. He started telling jokes when he was barely old enough to know what a joke was, and the older he got, the better he became at telling them. And he never ran out of them either!
Joey could sing really well. And he did it with volume! Didn't matter where he was, he sang with great gusto. Before he was old enough to drive, he would sometimes ride with me after church services and we would crank up the stereo and sing at the top of our lungs to such favorites as Def Leppard, Kiss, Aerosmith, to name a few. I imagine there were quite a few odd looks coming our way at red lights, but we didn't care.
When Joey was old enough to drive, my sister Kim bought him a tee shirt for Christmas that said "If you don't like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk", and he wore it with pride! Several of us Aunts tried to teach him how to drive a stick shift, and he burned up at least one clutch trying. We finally quit offering, fearful of having to put more money in our cars.
Joey turned into a fine young man! And a very hairy young man. That became one of his nicknames, "Hairy". His most famous nickname, he gave himself..."The Faz". That was his take on the cool man of the time, The Fonz, from the Happy Days TV show. He wore that well, too. He really was a cool young dude.
After high school, Joey went to Bowling Green University, and we really missed him, being that far away. Every holiday, we looked forward to him coming home, and were sad to see him go back afterwards. Little did we know that was preparing us for greater absenses.
After Joey graduated from college, he was offered a position at K-Mart in New York, upper New York state, as a manager. We were so proud of him, but HATED that he had to move so far away. It was like the life of our parties was gone, and it was way too quiet at family gatherings that he couldn't make it home for. Boy, did we look forward to the ones he did get home for!
In March of 1995, the life of our party was taken from us suddenly, and permanently. Joey died unexpectedly from complications of Marfans Syndrome. It's a hereditary condition, and we knew he had it, but had been told his was a mild case, which turned out to be devestatingly incorrect information. (Abraham Lincoln is said to have had Marfans Syndrome)
Tomorrow would have been Joey's birthday; he would have been 42 years old. He would have loved the "11/11/11" aspect of his birthday! He was only 25 when he died. And he took a piece of everyone who knew him with him. He was a very special person, just ask anyone who did know him. The world is a lesser place with him not here, but Heaven must have rejoiced to have him. He was a Christian. I know where he is, and I look forward to seeing him again some sweet day.
Joey, I love you and miss you horribly. We all do. Happy Birthday, Joey.
"And I know you're shining down on me from heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together
One sweet day"