My neighbor Joe
July 21st, 2012 by Regina Brett
I passed by Joe's house the other day and stared at the empty chair on the porch.
He used to sit there like the guardian of the street. He might have looked like an old man to strangers, but we neighbors knew him for the hero he was.
Dr. Joseph Foley was one of the first doctors to prepare the beach at Normandy before the D-Day invasion. He dodged bullets to save the lives of countless men and held the dying in his arms.
He was a neurologist who listened to patients and focused on them, not their disease or disorder.
What I will remember most is his wit and charm, and hearing a man who had seen so much war, constantly pray for peace.
Joe's funeral was on Tuesday. He was 96 when he died. The chuch was filled with hundreds who loved him. The Mass was celebrated by six priests and a bishop.
My friend, Father Don Cozzens, gave the eulogy. He said Joe loved attention but saw the danger of being the smartest or funniest person in the room. He knew we're most alive when we die to our ego self and live for others, Don said.
When asked once what he was thinking about, he told the priest, "Women and sex," then blushed at the redundancy, Don said.
Don said that Joe, like Jacob in the Bible, wrestled with his faith, his God and his church. He was a coffee house theologian who lived those words in Micah: Act justly. Love tenderly. Walk humbly with your God. Joe never understood one thing: Why do smart people think war is a tragic necessity?
Perhaps he has found that answer now.
Near the end of the Mass, someone reminded us, "No one is really dead unless they are forgotten."
Joe will live forever, in me, in his patients, in his friends, in his family, in the countless children of the children of the children of all those he saved through his work and his prayers.