Today the UPS guy stopped at our house for a delivery for me. I wasn’t expecting anything so I was wondering what in the world it could be. Well…it was THE WORLD….a book compiled by friends of Joe’s when we lived in Norway. The book was entitled, “Our Love for Joe Messina from Around the World”. The cover was the last picture I took of our four kids together….on the day after Thanksgiving last year while we were in Houston. Inside were some photos of Joe when he was a gangly teenager…and pages and pages of letters from his classmates and teachers at the International School of Stavanger.
As Rich and I read these beautiful letters to us about Joe and his impact on others…even at an early age, we shared some laughs and shed many tears. We had always thought Joe was a great kid…and then a great man because we were his parents and we were biased. This proved that even out of our sight and care, Joe was a good person. I know he didn’t always make good choices…but he owned up to them and made them right when he could. I am very proud that he was our son and he touched so many people’s lives.
We lived in Sola, Norway from May 2017 until June of 2010. Joe went to the International School of Stavanger for 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. He had the pleasure of participating in soccer, track and field, baseball, basketball, surfing, and of course, rugby, where he excelled on the pitch and gained a lifelong love for the game. So many teachers, parents, and students reached out to me shortly after Joe died..even the principal. International Schools overseas are not quite like American schools. They are quite a bit smaller…maybe 30-40 students per grade level. Everyone speaks different languages and comes with different cultural traits. The schools depended on heavy involvement of parents, so I could immediately picture most of the faces to the names of the letters in this book…albeit their middle school or early high school faces. I knew them as well. They also sent a huge flower arrangement to Joe’s celebration of life.
A local friend of mine was commenting the other day about the support of our military family, and the support of the people we had lived with in Norway. It was a very special group of people from multiple continents and countries…all trying to make their way together through Middle School and High School. I am not sure who put this together, but it is truly something I will treasure for a lifetime. I felt like I was getting a long distance hug from each of you. Thank you so much!