His name was Joseph Todd Pearson. We met in high school through mutual friends. We didn’t date until the end of our senior year and for several years off and on. When I hear women state that there aren’t any good men around, I can agree on a certain level. That’s based on the idiots that I have dated after Mr. Pearson. Don’t get me wrong. There were a few decent ones in the mix. However, no one compared to him. A few came close. Not only was he my first love, he taught me how a woman should be treated. No – that honor does not belong to my father. I love my father dearly but Joe taught me LOVE.
Joe really was my first love and you never forget your first love. The first man to buy me flowers. He was the first man to open a door for me, help me with my coat and defend my honor. Joe was the first man to buy me a gift just because. He was the first man to tell me he loved me. He was the first man (besides my father) that wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth. He was the first man to tell me I was beautiful and didn’t mean it in a sexual manner. Matter-of-fact, he told me after I had allowed someone to plaster makeup all over my face: foundation, blue eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, rouge, and lipstick.
It had been months since I saw him. I was away for training for the National Guard. Since he was picking me up from the airport, I wanted to look fabulous. I was still in my dress uniform when he picked me up. He smiled, laughed, hugged, kissed me, told me I looked and felt muscular. He teased me about my arms (which had bulked up from all of the pushups). He avoided commenting on the makeup. He had never seen me wear makeup and I thought it would be the first thing he noticed. I finally asked him if he liked it.
His response, “You look like a clown. You don’t need makeup. You are a natural beauty. Natural beauties don’t need makeup.”
Needless to say, I was ticked off and expressed it in a very un-ladylike manner via cursing! I didn’t expect him to be so blunt, although he always was, after not seeing me for months. He pulled the car over, grabbed my face and told me calmly while looking in my eyes, “You are too pretty for all of that. You don’t need it. You are beautiful.”
I was still upset but he always knew how to calm me down. At that moment, I knew I really was beautiful. It wasn’t because Joe said so. It was because I looked in the mirror and noticed that I really did look like a clown with the exaggerated makeup on. To this day, I rarely wear any makeup except brow filler, lipstick/gloss and maybe mascara. Joe’s words always come back to me. “You are a natural beauty.”
Am I having a shoulda coulda woulda moment? No, I am not. Joe and I had that conversation eons ago. I was the one that sabotaged our relationship. I was the one that played games. I was fighting my own battles and didn’t understand love. I never really appreciated what he tried to give/show me until Karma kicked me in the behind and those games were played on me. He was my template of what a good man should be in a relationship. To this day, I will not date a man that does not treat me like a lady or with respect. My father taught me that too but Joe was the one that made it REAL.
In the aftermath of our failed relationship, he got married and I had a child. The last time I saw him, my son was two and we were waiting at a bus stop to take my son to daycare. Joe spotted me and gave me a ride. We chatted and went on with our lives and wished the best for each other.
Throughout the years, I often thought about Joe. The thoughts weren’t based on the hope of a reconciliation of our love. No. We were long past those moments. I would have dreams about him. Whenever I had more than one within a week or month, I would try and locate him. I knew something wasn’t right and I felt the urge to check on him. I tracked him down. We promised to check in on each other from time to time. Of course, it didn’t happen. That’s my regret.
Today, I searched for a few of his letters that he wrote me while I was in the service and the photo of us at our high school graduation. I’m a packrat and keep almost everything that has ever meant anything to me. I read the letters again and stared at the photo. I didn’t cry. Not one drop of a tear.
I didn’t start crying until I started writing this “memorial” for him. I’m crying because I feel Joe deserved better than what he received from life. I’m crying because I wish I could have at least talked to him one more time. Yeah. Yeah. I know. We aren’t supposed to question or ask “Why?” However, my relationship with God is very open and direct. I may not get things my way but I get answers.
Every year on his birthday, I would post “Happy Birthday” on his wall/page on Facebook. I knew he wouldn’t respond because he seldom was on Facebook. However, I wanted to keep my word by checking on him, albeit, the lazy way. This year was different. When I wished him Happy Birthday, I added “peace” at the end without really thinking about it. I had remarked to a friend previously that I felt something wasn’t right and I had hoped that all was well with him. I had no way to contact him and pushed the ominous feeling to the side. I then received the phone call reporting his death. Sigh.
There were a few rough patches in Joe’s life but he never complained. He was a private man. When we were younger, I knew his secrets and his dreams. I can only hope that he truly is resting in peace. He was a magnificent and handsome man. Everyone should know that about Joe. Yes. It is possible to mourn someone you haven’t seen in twenty-five years or spoken to in over five years. I’m mourning the man that taught me so much right now.
Rest in Peace Joe – You made a difference in my life and others. Your mission was accomplished.