Greetings! Long time no blog! Lets just say Ive been enjoying my time in Virginia with family and also had to travel to Indianapolis for a conference and got to catch up with some friends there as well. While there have been some blog-worthy adventures, I haven’t really felt like writing or taking pictures. And since Im basically on vacation right now, Im not going to worry about it. I know…I can tell you are heartbroken 😉
But I do have a post today because I need a little bit of a cathartic release. It has nothing to do with fuel or fitness, but with life (and death) in general.
Thirteen years ago someone very important to me was killed while riding his bike. This man was an english/theater teacher at my high school, and had been my director in high schools plays for three years.
June 2, 2000 was actually a very happy day in my life. I went to my final day of classes and what was my last day of my senior year in high school. I didn’t have exams, so when I left the parking lot that day at an early release I was planning only coming back for graduation. I remember I went to park at Pence Middle School and did a running loop on some country roads. I remember I went to my grandparents house after that, drenched in sweat and sunburned from running in the afternoon heat. I remember eating dinner at my high school boyfriends house, and the sting of the sunburn kicking in at some point.
So really, June 3rd was when I woke up to what was, and still is, the most tragic news of my life. I will go ahead and admit that I am incredibly lucky that I can say this was the worse morning of my life so far.
That morning I woke up and went downstairs and immediately pulled out a big slice of carrot cake from the fridge for breakfast…I know, very healthy. I sat down in the living room and started eating my cake. A few bites in my parents spoke up and said “we have some bad news,” or something to that effect.
They said “Joe Hiney died last night. He was riding his bike on 33 and a car hit him.” I don’t think I ate any carrot cake after that.
I dont remember if I started crying. I don’t remember what my parents said after that. I do know that my sister was still sleeping, and I went up to wake her up and tell her (she was also a student of his). I remember going into the bathroom (yes, we have a phone in the bathroom…you would have to ask my dad about this) and calling my boyfriend at the time and telling him. I remember calling my friend John and telling him…he hadn’t heard the news yet, and I think this is when I finally started crying. There are other memories of that day and the following week that are just as sharp in my mind, but I will stop dwelling on the past.
Now there is a chance that some of you reading have a similar recollection of June 3rd when we learned of this tragic event. Some of you can probably also recount every step you took that morning and what you were doing/eating/wearing when you heard the news. But I also know that many of you were not lucky enough to know this incredible man, and I would like to take just a few moments to remember him fondly.
Joe Hiney was my mentor. He was a father figure, friend, teacher, mentor…honestly the most incredible person I have ever known, and likely will ever know. I have never met someone so caring, so genuine and so enthusiastic towards his students and life in general. In fact, I feel utterly ridiculous trying to even put into words how amazing he was. His students loved him. The funeral and memorial service were standing room only.
One thing that only a few people knew about him was that he had a smiley face tattoo on the inside of his ankle. I only saw it once in the three years I knew him. When we asked him about it he was obviously embarrassed, and he said it had been a mistake. But seriously, how can you regret a smiley face?
So to commemorate him, my friend and I got the same tattoo the day of his funeral. And since then I know other students have done the same to remember him.
So that tattoo is almost 13 years old. Its funny, sometimes I forget about it. But I love when someone asks and I can say it was to remember the most important person in my life.
Knowing Mr. Hiney was a huge part of the reason I eventually became a teacher. I have always said that if I can influence just one student a fraction of how much he influenced me, that my life will be worth living.
I feel lucky that I was in Virginia today for the first time in several years on June 2nd to visit his grave. Normally my father goes by with some flowers to represent me, but today I got to go with him.
For those of you who knew Joe, I hope this kindles some fond memories. For those of you who never had the amazing opportunity to know this man, I hope that you are lucky enough to have met someone as equally amazing, and that they are still with you today.
Thanks for bearing with me and my emotions this evening…I will be back with happier news tomorrow 🙂