In Honor of Joe – Understanding the Big Picture

Learning about Joe’s as Joey Learns about Aging and Disabilities

There is a U.S. National holiday, called Joe Day, always on March 27.  Who would have known! I didn’t until a couple months ago, but once I found out, I was so excited! I could share with you one of my favorite book characters who is named Joey. He’s in the book, What’s Wrong with Grandpa?  In this book, seven-year-old Joey misunderstands his grandpa as disabilities with aging take over.

What is this Joe Day holiday? According to

National Joe Day is a chance to change your name, if only for today. Many people do not like their name. They wish they could change it. A few actually do. On National Joe Day, it is perfectly okay to have everyone call you “Joe.” Why Joe, and not Bob or Mike or Redcliff? Simply because everyone likes the name Joe. If you are called Joe today, we know you’re “Joe Cool”! This works well for men out there. What about the ladies? We suggest you choose Josephine or Jody.

There you go. Now you know about the National holiday of Joe!

Cup of Joe
Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay

In honor of Joe Day, let’s talk about Joe. There are many fun Joe’s to talk about, some people and some not.  Many people start of their morning with a Cup of Joe. Do you know where that saying came from? It evolved from the actions of Secretary of the Navy, a Joe called, Josephus Daniels, in 1914. He banned his sailors from drinking alcohol on his ship. So, the sailors started drinking coffee instead, a lot of it! In retaliation of their superiors’ decisions, the sailors started calling their coffee, “cups of Joe.”

Since we are on the topic of mornings and Joe, there is also a well-known American morning news and talk show, called Morning Joe on the network’s cable news channel MSNBC. Yet another type of Joe.

One of my favorite Joe’s I learned to love when I was a little girl. I would watch the show Bonanza together with my dad. Bonanza is a U.S. NBC produced longest-running western which ran from 1959 to 1973. It had 14 seasons and 430 episodes. My favorite character was Little Joe Cartwright, played by actor Michael Landon.

Some other Joe’s that are well known are of course, the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden who became president at the age of 78. Then there is also, Joseph, the father of Jesus a historic and infamous Joe who is known and respected throughout the Christian world.

Probably one of my dearest Joe’s is a Joey. I held a Joey many years ago in Australia. These Joey’s are marsupials. Baby marsupials stay in their mother’s pouch instead of inside of her body. They include kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koalas and even opossum. Joey’s are adorable!

Photo by Ellicia on Unsplash

Speaking of an endearing Joey, as I mentioned at the beginning, one of my most favorite book characters is Joey. We have been learning about Joe’s, as Joey is learning about disabilities with aging. Joey goes on a first hike of the season in the mountains with his grandpa. His grandpa has changed over the winter. He talks loud in his noisy diesel truck on the way to the trailhead, therefore Joey concludes his Grandpa must be made at him, but he doesn’t understand why. He doesn’t realize his Grandpa is adjusting to new hearing aids.

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Grandpa also got new bifocals so looks funny as he tilts his head back trying to read a pocket bird book and then he trips on a rock right afterward. For those of you that have experienced the use of bifocals or progression lens, you know how difficult it is adjusting to these glasses.

There are several other incidences that Joey misinterprets. Eventually Grandpa explains what is happening.  Joey thought his grandpa would stay the same forever and didn’t understand that his grandpa was going through the natural process of aging.

Have you ever misinterpreted a situation just from the way it looked or from what you were told? I like this advertisement where a teenage boy is running up to an elderly lady and quickly grabs her purse strap. Our first thought is that boy is trying to steal her purse. But if you keep on watching, you see this boy is using the straps of her purse to pull her away from traffic and prevent her from getting hit by a truck.

It was through communication that Joey understood.  The bigger picture became more apparent after obtaining all the facts. This changed, or corrected Joey’s perception of the situation. He realized his grandpa wasn’t mad at him. He understood that his grandpa still wanted to do the things together that they used to do too; he just wasn’t able to anymore. Joey learned the impacts of aging and how it creates challenging disabilities. Comprehension created more compassion between the two of them.

Too often we react before comprehending the big picture. We may not know what it is like to be in certain situation if we were a different race, gender, age, physical ability or acting out of stress or a high risk, quick thinking situation. Through constant communication we learn to truly understand. Opening our hearts and minds allows us to hear, accept, and understand, leading to genuine compassion for each other.

Who are your favorite Joe’s?

What are your favorite Joe’s?

Have you experienced a situation where through further communication and getting a clearer picture, your perspective became completely different than what you originally thought?

Now, have a cup of Joe, sit back while you watch a Bonanza rerun where Little Joe finds a cute little Joey in a tree.  Better yet, pick up the book, What’s Wrong With Grandpa and read it to a child to help that little mind understand that things sometimes are not as they seem. It’s a great intergenerational read. This book will help create an awareness of the natural impacts of aging and disabilities, and you’ll get to meet another Joe. What can be better than that, especially on National Joe Day!

Sonja Wendt

Enhancing children’s sensitivity in human interactions one story at a time.

Sonja Wendt


©2021 sonjalangewendt

4 thoughts on “In Honor of Joe – Understanding the Big Picture”

  1. This was an interesting piece! I learned something about that cup of Joe, and figure that MoJo is morning Joe, right? But I especially liked this:

    “Too often we react before comprehending the big picture. We may not know what it is like to be in certain situation if we were a different race, gender, age, physical ability or acting out of stress or a high risk, quick thinking situation.”

    With the advent of social media, knee jerk reactions have become even more universal than before. It is not only annoying and tiring, but dangerous. Thanks for reminding us of this truth!

  2. My favorite “Joe” is spelled “Jo”. It’s in the Scrabble dictionary and it means sweetheart. Your article reminds me of an incident that occurred in my first grade classroom. A child approached me to say that another student said the “s” word. I was shocked and immediately thought the worst. When I privately asked the child what word was said, the child bashfully replied “stupid”. It was a good reminder to not jump to hasty conclusions!

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