Tuesday, December 27, 2011


by: Joelle Charbonneau

The New Year is approaching fast. Normally, I looked to the new year with a sense of excitement and anticipation. There are so many possibilities. I am always anxious to see what the year will bring. This year I am finding it hard to look forward. I know there are great things coming. I have two books coming out this year. My son will be doing all sorts of wonderful and exciting things. There are stories to write, songs to sing and life to be lived to its fullest. And yet, I find myself clinging to the old year and wishing I could go back. Not far. Just a few days. Just to last week or maybe the week before. I just want one last moment of this past year to fully appreciate what I had and now have lost.

Last Tuesday night, my father-in-law, Joe Blanco, suffered a severe

aneurysm. Wednesday morning some friends arrived at his house to see him and grew concerned when he didn’t answer the door or the phone. They called 911 and found my father-in-law unconscious. He was rushed to the hospital, but there was nothing that could be done. On Thursday, we were forced to say goodbye.

To say that his passing was unexpected is both true and untrue. Dad B was a walking miracle. Over 16 years ago, he had a heart transplant that gave him a second chance at life. And boy did he use it. He retired from his high powered consulting job and began to teach. He worked with special needs college students. He revived a struggling homeless shelter program at his local church and founded a second one at a different church. He worked on breast cancer walks. He volunteered to drive seniors to their doctor appointments. He sang in two different vocal groups. The list goes on and on. But more important than all of that – Joe loved his family.

Nothing was more important to him than spending time with his family. We saw him only two days before he collapsed. We talked to him that night. Yes, we knew that at any moment the gift he had been given 16 years before could be taken away and yet- we thought somehow he would live forever. Maybe because we needed him to.

And now he is gone and time marches on. A new year approaches….a year he will not ring in. A year he will not be making resolutions for. A year he will only live in our memories. And I don’t want the year to come.

And yet – I know he would not want time to slow down for him. He believed that each day was a gift. I owe it to him to embrace the new year with joy and hope…not with sorrow. And I will try. Today, I will sing at his funeral and say one final goodbye to the man who held my hand when my own father died and did his best to fill that hole left in my heart. And tomorrow I will do my best to look to the future with hope and happiness because that is what he would have wanted.

So to my Stiletto family I say – may 2012 bring you great hope and great joy. And may you remember that every day of that year no matter how frustrating or unhappy is a gift to be treasured.


  1. Oh my dear friend - a friend I do not know and yet feel I do. I hold you in my heart as you travel this road of many bumps. May you never feel alone in this journey...

  2. I'm so very sorry Joelle. He sounded like a truly remarkable man and enriched the lives of everyone who knew him. His legacy is immeasurable.


  3. Kristina and Evelyn - thank you so much. His legacy is amazing and I count myself fortunate to have been blessed with his presence in my life.

  4. Saying "I'm sorry" seems so adequate at a time like this. His memory will be kept alive through the people who knew him and loved him. I know he enjoyed hearing you sing for him.

  5. Joelle, what a beautiful tribute to a man who meant so much to you. He sounded like an amazing man--one who left this world a better place.

    You are in my prayers, Joelle.

  6. Joelle, my heart breaks for your family. But what a gift you gave Joe and his family by mustering your courage and singing at his funeral. I bet that was beautiful, having heard you sing. God bless your family. Maggie

  7. Joelle, I am so sorry for you and your family! What a terrific and giving man your father-in-law was. I've no doubt he will never be forgotten by the many lives he's touched. You honor him with your words--and your voice--and I'm sure he'd be so pleased to hear you say you're going to approach the New Year with happiness and hope. I do believe by living our lives the best we can, we pay tribute to those we've lost. Sending you a big hug from St. Louis!