Josh was born before his due date to great expectations and joy. He was my fourth child, a son with three special sisters before him.
I had gone for a pre-Caesarian checkup and when the doctor saw the meconium staining in my test, he said, “We’ve got to do the surgery right now!” Within the hour, I had delivered my fourth redheaded child. What a exciting beginning for a life that has been a continuous stream of sustaining specialness.
Having just celebrated his fourth decade it’s a chance to look back on how powerful Josh’s presence on earth has been to me.
As I write this, I remember with a smile on my face his birth announcement that said, in capital letters, “WE DID IT!” It was a boy to carry on the family name, and for me, another protector here on earth.
From his beginning days growing up in Bayside, Josh was a street-smart kid. He stayed that way even after we moved to the suburbs while he was in elementary school. When he went to high school, he wanted to play football but I feared for concussions, so I guided him into baseball, where he excelled as a catcher. I can still picture him behind the hitter’s box squished down, guiding the pitcher and using his strong arm to get runners thrown out on the basepaths.
He seemed to be a natural athlete, and he thought about becoming a professional ballplayer, but his body didn’t agree. He broke his shoulder, he broke his foot, he broke his ankle. It was not to be his career. He did think about a sports management career, but after an internship at the National Baseball Association, he realized there was little “sport” to it.
When we moved to Melville, he saved me one night in a snowstorm. I remember arriving home having driven through a blizzard and trying to get up my steep, icy, snow-covered driveway, and failing miserably. I decided to leave the car at the bottom of the hill and walk up the slippery slope, but found myself falling backwards again and again.
Fortunately, I had a phone, and after several failed attempts, I called Josh asking him to rescue me. He picked me up and carried me all the way up the steep driveway putting me down safely at the entrance to the garage. No man ever carried me over “the threshold,” let alone a hill!
Josh had gone to University of Indiana’s Kelley School of Business and, when he graduated, he got a job as an investment banker at Bank of America. After he got his first big bonus, he called me late one night and said, “Mom, if I’m going to work 24/7, can I come to work for you?”
I had to take a pay cut to afford him, but it was the best financial decision I ever made.
He came to work for me at our Howard Beach office and, under the guidance of the editor, began to learn the ways of the business. Within a short time, he joined me in the Bayside office.
But Josh understood our news business from all different vantage points, including distribution. He learned that part early when he was a teenager. One night, my distributor had called me and was so drunk, he couldn’t deliver the newspapers. So Josh and I got in the car and we distributed the newspapers.
I gained, as he did, a newfound respect for distributors. It’s a critically important and very tough job!
Josh learned that, and when he got into the business, he understood what it takes, a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week commitment to make it successful.
People think I work long hours, but Josh has the same work ethic. This ethic has made it possible for us to grow our business into the largest community newspaper group in New York state.
Beyond business, of course, having him by my side has helped me in ways that can never be forgotten.
He was there when my fiancé, Nat Bassen, died suddenly of a heart attack a week before our wedding. Josh stood by me and helped me to have courage and, at one point, he said sadly, “Mom, s–t happens!” I had never heard that expression before, but I’d never forget it again. It summed up the helplessness of the moment — and Josh’s helpfulness.
When my husband Stu was deathly ill in the hospital, Josh wouldn’t leave my side. When we got the call to come back to the hospital, he drove me to Stu’s bedside and understood I wanted to take Stu home. After a year’s illness, Stu passed away in my arms at home, and Josh was by my side then, too. He was there just outside my bedroom door, allowing me as long as I needed to say goodbye. He gave me great comfort to get through that crisis.
Life is a series of struggles, successes and joyous times, and Josh being there with me through it all has meant the world to me.
So on his special birthday, I sent him a love letter to show him my gratitude, pride and appreciation for who he is as a son, a husband, a brother, a father and a friend. How lucky I am, along with all those whose lives he touches.