Feb 20, 2011

Joe's Gorilla

We had to bring the gorilla in on Friday.  The high winds were causing him to slam up against the house over and over again.  If anything happened to this gorilla I would be very sad. These days the gorilla hangs right outside our patio door.  But the first time I saw this gorilla was the day I met my father-in-law, Joe. At that time he was hanging in the corner of  Joe's living room.  Joe was going for sort of a jungle thing.  Not only did he have this awesome gorilla, he also had tropical plants all over and a giant fleece blanket with a picture of a majestic lion hanging on the wall.

That day back in 1984 we knocked on the door, Joe yelled "Well, come in.  What are you waiting for?"  in a loud and impatient voice.  He was 100% Polish and I grew to learn that his entire family speaks that way, including my husband.  It sounds as if they are very exasperated to have to explain things to you that should be obvious.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  They are warm and loving and full of life, a little strange too, but that's all part of their charm.

The minute I saw this gorilla I knew I would like Joe.  Joe made no apologies for his life.  His ex-wife and kids probably feel that he should have made a few here and there.  He was indifferent to his wife to the point where she finally had to leave him.  After the divorce he didn't try very hard to see his kids.  But he was not a mean man and I'm sure never intended to hurt anyone.  I think he would have been a little shocked to think his kids were affected that deeply by him and his actions.  He just did what he wanted to do,  not really giving much thought to anybody else.  He probably shouldn't have gotten married.  But you know what they say about hindsight.

My husband spoke with his Dad pretty regularly, at least once a month or so but we didn't see Joe often.  He couldn't be bothered with the effort to come see us but was always genuinely happy when we made the effort to go see him.  It became harder to visit him once he moved out west, first Vegas and then out to the desert of Arizona in a tiny little town called Dolan Springs.

The last time I saw Joe was in 2006.  We took a big driving trip out west, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Vegas, Grand Canyon.  We stopped for an afternoon with Joe.  Even though my husband and I saw Joe every few years, my kids hadn't seen him in probably 10 or more years.  It was a nice afternoon.  Joe's gorilla was sitting on a table out back of his place, surrounded by Joshua trees and cactus.

Joe passed away not long after that.  My husband was able to go be with him at the end.  That's a good thing  but I know he misses his Dad alot.  I do too.  When Jim went to clean out his Dad's house he guessed I would want the gorilla.  He was right.  


  1. what a sweet story. I love Joe's gorilla.

  2. Great post. And what a great keepsake to have of Joe.

  3. Mom - He is pretty awesome.

    Foxy - The only thing I really need to remember him by, other than his son I guess ;-)

  4. I would have taken the gorilla too