Eulogy, by Judy Boschert Ware
Eulogy, by Michael C. Boschert
God blessed the 1961 marriage of my sister Margie to John (Jack) Boschert with three children. Michael Craig was born in 1962, Judith Dolores in 1963. Marg was pregnant for the third time in September of 1964. "I honestly believe I have our little Joe," she wrote to me. "He's not as active as Judy was and the doctor says the heartbeat points to a boy. Even after bearing two children I am bewildered and overwhelmed at the mystery of life. In this one respect I feel we women have a superiority over you men. Being a mother is to me the most unexplainable joy a person can experience."
Joe was born on February 15, 1965.
In most families, Joe would not likely have lived more than a few months. Not so much on account of his multiple disabilities but because there was no clear diagnosis, no treatment worked, and his health was in constant crisis. The care he required to stay alive and grow was beyond what parents are reasonably expected to give. The care Joe received from Marg and Jack went beyond reason, testing the limits of their own health, endurance, and the strength of their little family. They had no days off, and rarely a night of uninterrupted sleep, for years on end.
School was out of the question. Marg cared for Joe at home, first In Missouri, then in Connecticut, then back in Missouri again. As years past, she and Jack gradually resigned themselves to the cruel fact that Joe would never be able to do much more than he could as a small child. By the time he was in his teens, something resembling a routine became possible. He stayed occasionally for a few days at a time at a respite care facility.
Marg was diagnosed with cancer in 1988. After much suffering, she died in 1992. Joe spent the remaining half of his life as resident of a group home. Jack visited him regularly. He and Joe had a routine that involved going out for fast food, then back to Jack's home to watch TV.
How Mike and Judy could have loved their brother so much is a mystery only to those who do not know them or the family culture Marg and Jack created and nourished. Judy's and Mike's eulogies are reprinted below, following his obituary.
Joe was the special son of John “Jack” C. Boschert and the late Margie L. Boschert, and dear brother of Michael “Mike” (Julie) Boschert and Judy (Mitch) Ware. Joe had seven nieces: Elizabeth (Andrew) Haberberger, Jackie (Kenny) Woodruff, Rosemary Boschert, Teresa Boschert, Carolyn Boschert, Dolores Boschert, and Maggie Boschert; and three nephews: Jacob Ware, Joshua Ware and Jackson Ware.
Joe had more caregivers that we can name or count. We consider them family, too. Joe has lived with three roommates/brothers in the Tower Wood Home that Community Living manages in O’Fallon, MO since 1993. This home, in a residential neighborhood, was an awesome place for Joe to thrive in and enjoy these last twenty-three years. Joe’s home provided him with loving care, independence, joy and laughter. If all homes could have that same environment, the world would be a better place.
People were often inquisitive to know what caused Joe’s disability. He was the 1974 Celebrity Child for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Connecticut. Joe met Governor Thomas Meskill and made his television debut on the telethon broadcast on February 2 and 3. Joe got no further offers for TV, but he did enjoy his moment in the bright lights.
Joe, however, was not accurately classified as having cerebral palsy. His disability came from the Rh factor between his father's and mother’s blood types (A positive & O negative). Born in Alton, Illinois in 1965, Joe encountered difficulties shortly after birth and was given his special, “one-of-a-kind” disabilities. He has shared those gifts and disabilities selflessly in his fifty-one years with all who crossed paths with him.
In 1985, Joe graduated from Booneslick State School as valedictorian (we’re pretty sure anyway). His father, Jack, was the keynote speaker at the graduation, and undoubtedly shared stories about Joe being ornery and loving. Joe stayed active in day programs hosted by Community Living Inc. and in recreation programs, from dances to baseball games to swimming. He was never bored.
He lived with his loving parents until his Mom passed away in 1992. Shortly after, Joe moved into the Community Living Respite Care Home, then transitioned into the “new” Tower Wood Home in 1993. He has stayed busy these past twenty-three years in CLI day programs and recreation programs. His weekly trip with Dad to Dairy Queen or McDonalds for a malt was a highlight of his life there.
Joe was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer February 29, 2016. He had successful surgery to remove a brain tumor on March 2. He went home to Tower Wood in early March, did great with his condition until early May, when the cancer began to take its toll. His last week, while comfortable, was far from ideal. We know he is in heaven, talking to his Mom and grandparents, in a much better place than he has been recently.
Joe’s loving personality and heartfelt laugh made him often a joy to be with. He loved to crinkle any type of plastic and for several years was especially fond of newspaper wrappers. Tug-of-war was a favorite way to engage with a friend. Keep-away was another. In the past several years, cardboard books became a favorite and you would often find him opening–closing–opening. Joe could also be ornery. His loud grunts and vocal discontent could disrupt a room if he was not getting the attention he deserved or expected.
Joe’s family would visit him at his home and often hear comments like “I just love your brother/son. He is so fun.” From the laughs, smiles, tug-of-wars and genuine love Joe freely gave, we know he made a lot of friends and changed a lot of people’s outlook on life.
Joe certainly lived a “special” life. He left a path of love for all who touched him. We appreciate the prayers and love you have shared for Joe and ask that you remember fondly how Joe helped you see the works of God in your life.
As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” "Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."
I read those words in John 9:1-3 the morning before Joe died. I had read them before, but this time I applied them to Joey’s life. Why did Joe have to suffer in a body that didn’t’ work? What was the reason for Joey’s life? God answered in those verses. Joe was created so that the work of God would be displayed in his life. Pure and simple. His life demonstrated the fruits of the spirit.
Joe loved everyone! And everyone loved Joe. He had no enemies! Joe had a joyful laugh. Whether he was watching the "Three Stooges" or playing his favorite game, “keep away”, his smile and laugh were contagious. Joe was at peace. One look into his brown eyes and you knew his spirit was at peace. Joe was the most patient person I ever knew. He had to be. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He was completely and utterly dependent on others for everything. Joe exhibited forbearance. He endured unbelievable suffering for over 51 years.
Joe had goodness in his heart. He tried so hard to help when he was prompted to stand on his small, deformed feet. Or when he was prompted to hold a cup to drink. He would focus and try to control his shaking. Everything took great effort. And he gave 100% effort in everything.
Joe was faithful. Every Saturday he would wait by the window for Dad to pull up in the driveway to take him to Dairy Queen and then back to his house to watch the Lawrence Welk Show.
Joe was gentle. He would lean his head against mine ever so gently when I would sit by him and watch TV. That was his way of saying, “I love you.” Joe demonstrated self-control every day of his life. He never lost his temper, never said an errant word, never hit anyone (unless you count pulling my hair on a few occasions in the car). Who can we say that about? Joe was remarkable.
When I first read the verses in John 9 about how Joe’s life would display God’s love, images of my parents and countless caregivers flooded my mind and I recalled their many selfless acts of love toward Joe. They were a beautiful example of God’s love for sure! I will leave you with this verse. It sums up Joe's life, and if you were part of his life, you were blessed. "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." (Matthew 25:40)
Thank you, Judy, for sharing those beautiful word for Joe. Thank you to everyone who joined us today. To Community Living and Joe’s caregivers, a sincere thank you for the love you have given Joe. You are more family than caregiver. Joe's blood family thanks you. For those who knew Joe one way or another, being here is only a testament to the bible verse Judy shared – “Joe helped you see the work of God.” Thanks to everyone for being here. It means a lot to our family and especially Joe.
While this is a sad occasion, as any funeral is, I ask you to think of all the positive ways Joe has impacted your life. I am sure you can think of many ways. My vision of Joe today is him walking and probably running into heaven to an embrace of our Mom and the two of them sharing 51 years of thoughts. I can only imagine all the stories and questions Joe will have to share. He might talk for years between walks, maybe even talk more than his older brother.
The thoughts about Joe impacting my life always include laughter and love. The Boscherts were a “normal” family (whatever normal is) but we had a disabled son and brother. We got some stares from people in public places, but Mom and Dad taught us at an early age to love everyone. Joe certainly helped that lesson. When people asked, “Can Joe communicate?” Dad would answer, "Not exactly in words, but he can read your heart better than anybody in the world.” If you passed Joe’s muster, he would share his laughter, and his many lessons of love. I am sure everyone in this room passed Joe’s test – and I am sure you learned a lesson or two about love from him.
When I think of Joe, I also have to think of laughter. As Judy shared, Joe knew how to laugh, whether it be at the "Three Stooges" or dropping a ball with a silly face or playing tug of war. One of my favorite “Joe” stories is from 1974. Our family was camping. Judy was pulling Joe around the campground in our classic red-flyer wagon. Several campsites down, three young boys were riding bikes. One ran right into a tree and fell off his bike, probably got hurt. Joe found this hilarious and started laughing infectiously. The three boys did not find it as funny. They threatened to beat Joe up and began to chase after the wagon. Judy arrived back in our campsite running and pulling Joe wildly – which only made Joe laugh harder. Luckily the boys did not catch them and nobody was hurt. Joe’s laughter was usually awesome, not so much that time, ask Judy.
Thoughts of Joe also bring me directly to my Mom and Dad. Their care for Joe is the definition of selfless love. They dedicated their lives to Joe’s welfare as well as to Judy's and mine. We are confident Mom went straight to heaven in 1992 for that love and sacrifice. Dad has been an awesome father and advocate for 51 years to Joe. From his backpacking days with Joe on his back to his many, many, many trips to get a chocolate malt from McDonalds or Dairy Queen, Dad has been the most special person and father Joe could ever ask for.
As many people know, my Dad is engaged to be married a third time. Judy and I could not be happier. We have been joking he is a “chick magnet.” But the apple does not fall far from the tree. Joe was a true chick magnet too. Every time I would see him, attractive young girls would be hugging and caring for him. They all seemed to say great things about him. Dad and Joe can now officially be called “chick magnets.” My chick magnet gene just brought me seven daughters and one beautiful wife.
However you knew Joe, I hope you remember that love and laughter were the most important things in his life. If he could verbalize his thoughts today, he would say, “Live your life with the same love and laughter I have, and your path to heaven with be as smooth as mine.” Thanks again for joining us today. My prayer is that the reunion in heaven between our Mom and Joe is half as awesome as I envision.