My Dad aka Cheeks

Hello everyone, this is Marissa – “Cheeks’s” daughter. We wanted to let you know that my dear father sadly passed away this past January. Writing on this blog, researching the articles, and emailing / commenting with many of you was time that brought him much happiness in his post-retirement years. As his daughter, I enjoyed seeing him having fun (or getting angry at US politics), and having a sense of purpose.

This is a copy of a eulogy I gave at his Celebration of Life. He was certainly one of a kind and will be missed tremendously. Thank you for being part of his life and following his journey on “The Truth on Common Sense”.

In Joe’s own words, a little bit about him.

“I started this Blog in February of 2012–shortly after I retired.  My intentions are to write about literally anything and everything.   Although I spent my entire career in the Financial Services Industry, I have had many other experiences throughout my life.  I tend to be somewhat philosophical–perhaps a people-watcher and an observer–but, I have always thought that a person should take a little from everything they do, everywhere they go and everyone they meet with them on Life’s Journey.

I have always thought of myself as somewhat of an International Person; so, you will find many events and ideas from far beyond our shores, which separate America from the World beyond.  I welcome your thoughts on the topics that I have written about; but, either way, thanks for visiting my blog.

Throughout this Blog, you will notice a re-occurring theme: Make Peace, not War!  Young Men (and, now Women) shed blood and die in War (on both sides),  General Officers establish Careers and Old Men (Corporate Profiteers) generate unseemly profits.  During my 4 1/2 years in the U. S. Army, after Infantry OCS, I was Commissioned in Military Intelligence, spent one and a half years in Vietnam and, then, one year at our Intelligence Agency’s General Headquarters, in Arlington, Va.   So, I saw Communications Intelligence (“COMINT”) and Security (COMSEC) from both ends of the Spectrum.  At that time, I was still too Young and Foolish to realize the Dangers of War.  Now, I know better!

Wars should only be fought as an absolute last resort.  Take care of the returning Troops–Men and Women–by all means.  But, let’s stop building those Monuments to War, and use those funds to Celebrate Peace!   Create scholarships, establish international forums for civilians and academia, form projects for people to work together in worthwhile efforts, etc.   And most certainly, keep the Defense Industry Lobbyists out of the Pentagon and the Halls of Congress.

Hello everyone. I want to thank you all for being here with us today. We are so thankful for each of you who are with us, or who are thinking of us today in the Philippines, Sweden, Tokyo, New Jersey, Jordan, or anywhere else in the world. We feel the love and support, and we love you all so much.

I keep coming back to the same thought – I’m heartbroken yet simultaneously so damn grateful. I got to have a close relationship with a wonderful Dad for 39 years. There was not one moment where I doubted that he was proud of me, loved me beyond measure, or would do anything for me (and my mom, brother, and my own family).  I knew that my mom, brother, and later my son Henry were the most important people in his life. How many people are aware that they are that loved, respected, appreciated, provided for, and deeply cared for their entire life?

Even at a young age, I felt very special to my Dad. I have a vivid memory at 2-1/2 the night before my brother was born. My Dad created a special Father/Daughter dinner with his number one Princess before he left for the hospital and everything changed. We dressed up, and we dined outside on the patio by moonlight and candles to make the occasion monumental. He poured apple juice in a nicer cup, and insisted that we eat every shrimp cocktail (our favorite) by linking our arms or feeding each other. That was Dad. He was worried that I would have a tough transition being the only child, and he wanted to make sure I felt how loved I was.

Dad did the did the bedtime routine each night. But he put his creative spin on it. To walk to bed, we had a different way each night — walking on his feet or holding us like ET in a bike basket. He’d told stories about Marissa and Andrew the Astronauts – kids in a parallel Universe kind of like us. We treasured those stories, it encouraged our own imaginations and creativity from an early age. He loved to sing and had a strong voice. The problem was that he sang us the most depressing songs and to this day I cannot listen to “Yesterday” by The Beatles without crying. Other songs in his repertoire was Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Edelweiss and others from Sound of Music, and The Rainbow Connection from Kermit the Frog. That was our song, and he said one day both knew when I got married one day we’d have to dance to it at our wedding. And I’d say, I don’t want to grow up and get married!

We had a happy childhood. Most importantly, he played with us. He taught us to ride bikes, he threw us around in the pool. We wrestled, played basketball, went fishing once (epic disaster). He built a swing for us. He let all the kids climb all over him. He and Mom took us and the little boys in Mother’s group to a construction site to watch the bulldozers. He found happiness in our own, and truly fostered whatever interests we had, whether it was art, science, space, or anything else. He told us we could do anything and believed in us.

He was so proud of Andrew’s knowledge – and would delightedly recount how Andrew once corrected a pilot on something technical about his own F-14 plane. In later childhood, Dad helped coach Andrew’s sports and made sure all the kids got to play and have fun. He liked to play 20 questions with us while waiting at Wings N Things for dinner, and his favorite question was, “Is it bigger than a bread box?” We’d laugh – what’s a bread box?

When I was 11, I had a CCD teacher that was fire and brimstone. He told all the kids we’d go to hell for numerous reasons. Very dramatic. I told my dad and he was angry. He called the school and was invited to attend the class. And oh, he did. Joe Huber folded his legs into a fixed seat child’s desk in the front row, and sat through the class. Us kids all thought the teacher was nuts, and I was proud that my dad believed me and tried to do something about it. Later on they told Dad he could volunteer to teach the class instead if he wanted, and that ultimately dissuaded him — but the teacher did tone it down a bit.

He never complained if we asked him to take us to a friends’ house, or pick us up for the movies or the mall. I think I was asked to some events in middle school because my parents were known for being generous with the rides, and wanted to make sure everyone had a ride home. I knew then that my parents were different than some parents (and perhaps their circumstances were different – you never know), however I’ll never forget seeing a friend’s face relax into relief when I’d confidently say – don’t worry, I know my dad will take you home. We’ll give you a ride. Sure enough, he always did.

Sometimes I felt a little jealous of the close relationship that Andrew and Dad had, because they were so interested in the same things. But I was always included, and it didn’t make me feel left out. It made me feel good that they were best friends, as Andrew inscribed to Dad in a book he once wrote. “This book is dedicated to my Dad. He is not only my Father, he is also my Best Friend.”

In high school he walked with me in the rain across the football field when I was on the Homecoming Court. Other people wore ponchos, but he didn’t want to wear one so we wouldn’t ruin the look. It didn’t match my dress borrowed from the Kumik girls. However, I paired up the dress with black combat boots for the wet grass. We made quite the duo, and he gallantly held the umbrella for me.

He taught us to ride bikes, and later cars. He told me to drive into a McDonald’s drive through and I sideswiped the Buick before paying for the meal. I don’t think he was even mad, but he still made me drive home after taking a quick break to decompress in the McDonald’s parking lot.

He wasn’t a phone talker, unless you were a client perhaps, since he really enjoyed his clients. He’d tell me that he didn’t care how much money his clients had to invest, you treat them all the same. But you could call back the lady with 10M back first. He felt strongly about helping his clients properly invest so that they could enjoy their entire lives, and achieve the goals they wanted. And he kept many of his clients, many through his 39 years! I remember him sending me an email to see if it would make sense to a 6 year old girl named Alex, the granddaughter of a client who gave her some money to start learning about investing. It was adorable. He went above and beyond.

We didn’t talk much in college, and he’d always pass the phone to mom or say he had to go to the bathroom, but you could always count on a page filled birthday card sharing his heart with some humor and teasing, often in rhyme. Later he got into email, and many of you know that Dad loved E-mail! We’d laugh how he’d send so many articles, you didn’t have time to read them all, and he would get annoyed if you didn’t respond back in 24 hours with a book report summary. But Dad! I’m swamped at work, when doI have time to read all these articles? Sometimes I’d read them and respond so he’d know I cared, but he knew. Just as I knew that these emails were not necessarily about me needing to do homework. They were Joe Huber code for – you’re important and special to me and I was thinking of you and I Love you! One day years ago I got aggravated that he was giving me a hard time about a damn response, I think he must have been bored at work! Haha. And I thought – one day I’m going to miss getting his damn emails more than anything. I have a folder dedicated to just his thousands of emails, and I never deleted one. Tiny electronic love letters from my Dad telling me that he missed me in code.

He taught us to think for ourselves, to question things, to how to problem solve, and to trust our own opinions. If we’d ask if he liked a friend of ours, he’d respond — “it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s YOUR friend. It matters if you like them.” That’s actually quite progressive, because it meant that our opinion had merit and value. And from an outspoken and strongly opinionated man like Dad, that must have really been important to him.

One of the happiest times in our family’s life was when Daniel Gadd came to live with our family. Daniel became a second son to my parents, and a real brother to Andrew and me. Somehow the Universe aligned to give our family and him to each other when we needed it, and we have been grateful ever since. We kept in touch with Daniel, and after Andrew died in 2005, he visited in 2006, then 3 or 4 times since. He introduced us to his now wife-Sandra, then children Norah and Alfred. We have the happiest memories of sitting on the couch with them, talking about life, politics, and everything. Nobody will ever replace Andrew, or that hole in our hearts after he passed, but seeing Daniel and his family grow over the years, getting to know them — was a butterfly stitch that healed it a bit.

Which brings us closer to my own son, Henry. The first time Dad got to meet Henry, he drove the airport with my mom, and bolted out of the car as soon as they pulled up. Dad usually acted blasé, but all facades were off when it came to Henry. As soon as we got home, he and mom sat next to Pickles on the sofa just gazing at him. Dad was smitten. On the return trip home, Dad sat in the backseat holding Henry’s hand the entire time.  In the past year, he wrote 10 essays to Henry about his life, in his own words, he said,

“Previously when your Mommy was arriving or leaving from the Airport, Lola drove. When you were four months old, Your Mommy brought you to visit, and so that mommy and Lola could show you off to our friends and neighbors. Well, on the trips were you were coming or leaving, I made sure that I was in the car, and the back seat, of course, so that I could sit with our new Baby Grandson—Henry Andrew “Pickles”.

In 2015, my husband and I decided we’d like to move to Florida. I’m so glad that we made this decision and moved here in July that year. My parents, ever generous – said, come stay with us while you figure out your next step. For a person who never thought they’d move home again, this was unanticipated, but we decided to take them up on this generosity. And I’m so happy we did. That was 912 days that I got to see my Dad every day. Or 820 days if we assume I was traveling 10%, because that’s the type of question dad would bring up. But I’m his daughter obviously, so I factored that in.

It was fun to get to know Dad on a different level. We had gotten much closer after Andrew died. I wanted Dad to know that he meant just as much to me as Mom did. And I hope he knew that. My dad liked to be gruff, but if you can’t tell from this way too long essay, he was a big hearted, sensitive man inside a faux-grumpy exterior who showed love with emails, and teasing people.

We would talk about books he was reading. Some of them I’d read on my commute. One in particular was “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis. He piqued my interest when he kept chuckling out loud and insisting on relaying incidents about the odd couple Israeli psychologists who later won the Nobel Prize for Economics for their research on decision making. It’s no spoiler, but one of them, Amos Tversky dies in the end. These two real people became friends off of the page, and I came to love them as my dad did. I bawled on the drive home when Amos died, and was so glad to come home, drop my bags, and curl up next to my dad on the sofa and sob, “AMOS DIED!” And proceed to cry loudly. “I know.” He said while we sat there enjoying a moment. Mom thought something bad had happened, and we said she needed to join our book club already. That book will stick with me, as will that moment.

I got to give him a kiss goodnight daily. I got to roll my eyes when he’d make the exact same joke on my lateness each morning, “leaving already?!” because some of the time I was miserable at my new job and didn’t want to go at all. But I never regretted moving here, or living with my parents – even when I missed my freedom and the belongings now forgotten about in storage. I knew that this was a magical time and I would never look back on my life and not be immensely grateful to have spent so much time with my parents, and to see them get to know my husband and son. You don’t get that much time with people. A wedding, a vacation, a holiday, a funeral. But sometimes, you get a span of 912 days and boy are you grateful you took it.

I was so proud that he poured so much of his time and energy into writing in his retirement. He wrote 1279 posts in 6 years, which is an average of 213 per year. It was a labor of love, and he had a following that he engaged with via email, and sometimes arguments in the comments section. He’d check his hits each night, and it made him really happy. I’m glad I can remember how happy my dad was in his final years.

We didn’t talk a lot every day. Life was different. Dad told me himself, go take care of your boys. They need you. But I said, yes, but I also have one dad, and I want to see you too. We got to have hard talks when his health started declining. Beautiful, heart-wrenching, and wonderful talks. We talked about Vietnam, and his heart hurt about the young men and women who died there (on both sides). We talked about trips we took as a family. He got choked up telling me how his own Father gave him a hug and he knew he was proud after I was born, and Pop-Pop saw Dad as a father himself. He’d laugh that his mom asked him to buy her a set of fancy China when he was in Vietnam, and he said – where the hell was I going to buy the china, doesn’t she know we’re at war in a camp? He loved his siblings and was so proud of them. Especially how Uncle Denny built Pop-Pop’s Locksmith business into an empire and how he had such good business sense and a love of learning. He was so proud of his sister Annemarie, and thought she was one of the smartest people he knew, with a whole lot of grit and determination. He liked to tease his cousins Nancy and Mary about their times helping him sell newspapers on the boardwalk. He was proud of his many nieces and nephews, including the ones who are nieces / nephews / goddaughters by choice. He’d mention each of them in an email or in conversations, depending on the topic and their interests. Most notably, Amanda who is here. I know how much Dad loved Amanda, because she was one of the only people he would speak to for hours after a holiday dinner, even when she was 11 years old. He would have loved that a brilliant, gorgeous, successful female executive was emceeing his celebration of life that he pretended he didn’t want. But he also wanted whatever Mom and his family needed, so he’d be happy with this.

One of the last “big” conversations with him, I was so sad, because I knew he wouldn’t be there to see things I would do that would have made him proud. And I realized something important. It doesn’t matter – it’s not the things that we do, it’s who we are. It’s how we treat people. It’s what we stand for. It’s when we choose to speak up for an injustice. That’s what makes us – US. Not a goal or a project. Those are great too, but it’s the little moments.As I told him a couple of months ago, “You were the best father. And I am the luckiest girl (and so was Andrew). I loved you just as you are – no regrets – I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m proud of you, and I love you for WHO you are, not for anything you do. And I will miss you so much. And so many of the things I’m proud of myself about my own character, about half of them come from you – even though you’ll argue that they are all inherited from Mom. And I know you’re proud of me for who I am, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t see me do things. You love me for me.”

So do you understand why I’m heartbroken and also so lucky? I got to call that lovable pain in the ass my dad, and one of my best friends. I will miss him so much, we all will – but I hope his love of learning and knowledge will inspire you in your own unique way.

Maybe you email or call someone to tell them they are special to you today. Or really think and identify what is most important to you in your life. You could pick up a book just to read something new. Start a passion project or a hobby. Maybe you call a local representative to voice your opinion when it matters. Update your will or contribute to your IRA (he’d love that one). Or make a donation to a cause you care about. Or go through a McDonald’s drive thru and sideswipe your Buick. Play with your kids or grandkids. Do something that lights you up.

Thank you for being here today.

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  1. #1 by Doug (FPS/DougLite.com) on April 28, 2018 - 4:14 PM

    My condolences on your loss.
    To paraphrase a fellow from which my mother named me…
    The spirit of blogging will never die.. but the blogger will just fade away with his last keystroke… his memory alive with those who loved him.

  2. #2 by Candice Uhlir on April 28, 2018 - 7:32 PM

    My condolences. Joe was an ASA soldier, so was I. His blog, and occasional personal email exchange we had was always fun and enlightening. Rest in peace my friend.

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