Joe Kasik, 1944-2012
Many in the Eugene area have an extra sadness right now, after the passing of a friend, musician and all-around good man, Joe Kasik. After a long fight with cancer, Joe passed away on Nov. 8, 2012. A celebration of life will be held at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at Eugene Friends Church, 3495 West 18th Ave., Eugene.
I knew Joe not nearly as well as I wanted, but I knew him as best I could at the time. I wanted to talk a little about the friend I knew and miss.
Remembering a good man
I’m not a musician myself, but I knew Joe first as a musician. He regularly attended the weekly Irish music sessions at my wife’s studio. Most nights he would unsling his bag of hand-crafted bamboo flutes, most of his own construction, and join in the fiddles, guitars and myriad instruments that could show up on any given Monday. Sometimes he would bring in a ukelele or too as well.
From there I got to know Joe the gentle teacher. In a world of bombast and blather, Joe’s soft-spoken kindness always bespoke optimism and encouragement. Many a night he would talk with me about the approachability of the ukelele. He would work with me on plinking out a few chords, or help me struggle through “Oh My Darling Clementine.” His encouragement led to my wife getting a uke a few months ago, and while I’m still no great shakes on it, we both find that our baby loves it. I think that alone would make Joe smile.
Life is full of people we never know to the extent we would like to know them. Sometimes I think that’s to remind us to appreciate those we do know well, and those who know us well. There’s a lot about Joe the man I never got to know. I know he was a man of faith and craft, who loved the Oregon wilds and loved to travel. I know he was renown for his flute-making, his music-making, and his friendship.
And for now at least, that will have to be enough. Joe is someone I wish I knew better. One look in Joe’s eyes, and you could easily see yourself discoursing for hours over all manner of topics.
In this life, there won’t be anymore chances for those conversations with Joe.
I don’t understand why he had to leave us. Perhaps that’s a question he has the answer to now. The sun might set for the moon and for night, but Joe had more light to shine in this life. I wish he were still here. But that’s not a wish that gets to come true.
What can come true, though, is a wish that Joe’s death matter as much as his life. And that comes by using both his life and death as a reminder of life’s uncertainty, and of the fortune we have to love and be loved. Joe’s death reminds me to cherish all I hold dear, and appreciate the depth, love, openness and trust of our relationships.
I didn’t know him as long or as well as I wanted. But I knew Joe enough to know what a good man he was, and to know that he left the world a better place. I miss him and the goodness in his heart. Whatever may come after this life, I hope all the light in him gets to make it brighter and better.
Good-bye, Joe. For now, at least. Maybe we’ll meet again. In the meantime, I’ll get on with trying to bring more of your kindness and gentle patience to my character. And I’ll keep trying to learn at least a little ukelele.