On Aug. 31 I lost my favourite person in this world, my best friend and the love of my life when Joe died of a heart attack.
He was only 52.
After phoning our children, Joe’s sister and my sister, I phoned Fred Steele, Joe’s best friend and my very dear friend as well.
I was devastated and in shock.
Joe and I were only days away from the start of our apple harvest when he died. I hadn’t even considered the crop when I phoned Fred and when he asked me about it I told him that it could drop on the ground. I simply didn’t have the strength to care.
Fred reminded me (quite rightly) that Joe would care and took the initiative to phone the people that needed to be contacted, like Glen Lucas from the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association.
Fred, Glen, the packinghouse and the field service then set in motion a plan to help me with the harvest of Joe’s last apple crop.
Steve Brown, our local field man organized a meeting of growers who wanted to help.
Erin Carlson stepped forward at that meeting and volunteered to organize the workers who would come to our orchard to harvest the crop.
Denise MacDonald was there to help organize the pickers and also to organize the luncheon (sponsored by the BCFGA) following Joe’s funeral.
So many details of that funeral were handled by Denise on behalf of the BCFGA.
The next morning, the pickers arrived to begin harvesting the crop. They included growers, non-growers who knew Joe, including several members of the Apple Valley Cruisers (a car club in Summerland which Joe had recently joined) and growers’ pickers. All of this at a time of year when growers are very busy and need every picker that they have – but they were willing to share them so that our crop could be harvested in a timely fashion.
There have been many more offers from people who have never strapped on a picking bag or climbed an orchard ladder – but who genuinely want to offer their help in any way that they can.
To all these people and so many more who have stepped forward – I thank you. I don’t know what I would have done without your help and support.
And to my neighbour, Joe Schmuck, a mere thank you is not enough. Joe has taken over so many of the jobs that were my Joe’s.
He hauls all the fruit into the packinghouse, mowed the orchard so that the crop could be picked, repaired the irrigation, tied branches in the orchard and has begun the process of teaching me how to operate all the orchard equipment that I will need to be acquainted with.
Thank you Joe. You have truly been my rock.
I know that Joe would be so touched to know how a community — and in fact an entire industry — has stepped forward to help me when I needed it most. Thank you all from the bottom of my (broken) heart.