38 years ago this past Sunday our eldest child was born. It was Sept 4, 1979, and it was Labor Day. I always considered that quite appropriate! Jeffrey William Joekel came into the world at 8pounds 12 ounces of wriggling joy. Roger and my hearts were enthralled at once. He had only 11 years to live.
Now more than 25 years after Jeff left for heaven, I still miss him. Wistfully I wonder what it would be like to have one more place (family) at the Christmas table, one more child to text and write and call. We will never know this here on earth, but in heaven we will.
Jeff was so excited to have a little brother 2 and a half years later. “My brother, John Trabis!” he would announce proudly. (Johns’ middle name was actually Travis, but Jeff was only two.) The brothers did everything together. More than I knew in fact! John has told me several adventures that I had no idea had taken place, one which involved a cat smuggling incident which ended in cat barbering.
Where Jeff led, John loyally followed. John was coerced to be the one who tried out Jeffs attempt at bike ramp building. The ramp was more of a tetter-totter, and ended with a scraped up and bruised little brother and a wildly explaining big brother.
I have many memories of those years, some funny, some that I just shake my head at. The memory that came to me Sunday was the first fall that we had moved to western Nebraska. Our community was holding a Fall Festival type thing and one of the events was an air balloon flight. We got up before sun up on a cold October morning, and headed up to Scottsbluff to watch the balloons inflate and take off.
It was just the four of us, Roger, myself, Jeff and John. We had lived here for less than three months, and had no family near to share the time with us. We shivered, and walked around, marvelling at the brightly colored silks glowing in the dark and growing larger and larger. Just a family outing. One that we would never have together again.
I am grateful for the time we had. I love the memories. I look forward to the reunion.