The Joseph I know earned his dream coat with astounding resiliency and an easy charm.
We picked that cap and gown up the second it was available and he popped them on his head and around his shoulders immediately, then strutted around our neighborhood.
“I can’t believe I graduated,” he said repeatedly throughout the following days.
Everywhere we went in the week between cap and gown pickup and the actual ceremony, Joseph’s enormous group of friends offered congratulations.
On a normal day, Joseph walks through Appleton like a long-term mayor greeting his loyal constituents. In his graduation gear, he walked like a king.
A lesser young man might have been defined by the tragedies he faced in his dramatic 18 years on this earth. But Joseph is known for far cheerier things — his wide and ready grin, his enthusiastic support of teammates in every sport he played, his admirable recollection of names, his keen fashion sense.
He owes his achievement to his own unique skill set and to his tribe — his birth family who loves and supports him, his church family and the pastor he calls “other dad”, his extremely supportive school and the teachers and coaches with whom he formed lifelong bonds, his social workers, the police officers he calls friends, the barbers who have trimmed his hair and kept their eyes on him all his life, his mentors at the Boys and Girls club, his friends and all the unique and wonderful families who have supported him through the years.
Like almost everyone else, his plans are on hold temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions and we’re not exactly sure what fall will look like for him.
But, with his team, he has put together some exciting options and now that he’s earned his coat of many colors we know that any dream will do.