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A Reflection: Joe Zent’s Spirit Living On

The day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas décor went up to the 1st floor of 4th Avenue. I was delighted that staff were eager to begin.

When I returned, a day or two later, everyone’s trees were put up in their bedrooms, the large Christmas tree had ornaments and lights, the common area was decorated

with holiday wall hangings and fixtures, and then I saw: The POLE.

This is a little story, filled with the magical spirit of Joe Zent

(who passed away August 9, 2021). He LOVED Christmas: singing, presents,

Santa, and wishing everyone a ‘Merry Christmas’.

The Pole. You see, there are 2 poles in the hallway of the home (for the structure of the building), but only ONE was decorated with ribbon, only ONE had ornaments on it, only ONE had the figure of a Santa at the base of the pole, sitting on the floor. And the pole was NOT covered with ribbon to the bottom, to meet the floor. The pole was not covered to hide the scraped paint that is missing on it.

This pole has always been referred to as ‘Joe’s Pole’ because he always took that corner too sharp while using his wheelchair; thus the paint was rubbed off from the base of it.

-The pole was repainted after remodeling from a fire.

-And it was repainted, again, several weeks later because Joe had already left his mark.

-After the 2nd painting, we left it as it was: it was ‘Joe’s Pole’.

When Joe passed away, I touch up painted his bedroom. I knew of the pole, but I couldn’t paint it. I wanted, I needed, to see that pole as it was: with no paint on the bottom; remembering Joe, pedaling his feet in the wheelchair as he came and went from his bedroom to the larger living area. I needed to glance at that pole each time I walked the hall.

This is magical, but it is even more so because it was not a veteran staff who knew of ‘Joe’s Pole’. It was a traveling CNA who decorated that pole, who was not working at 4th when Joe lived there.

Why was only one pole decorated? Why did the ribbon not go to the base of the pole to cover the paint that was missing? And why put Santa by the pole? Why? Why?

So many of us have been touched. So many of us are filled with Joe’s presence. Joe loved Christmas. Joe loved Santa.

The Spirit of Christmas lives on . . .

Merry Christmas, Joe!!! We love you!!!