Friday, 8 January 2016

For The Love Of Learning

Hey everyone,

Today I said good bye to a dear friend of mine; Joe Bower, who tragically passed away a short while ago leaving his wife and young kids. I am still shocked by his passing and I am not sure if I can be very succinct in describing how I feel, but here goes.

I discovered Joe Bower on Twitter about a year before I met him in person. He wrote an extremely popular blog called For The Love Of Learning which is smart, witty and entertaining. At first, I followed him as just another fan and felt like I had moved up in life when he finally followed me back!

My impression of him just from Twitter was like meeting a celebrity. I was amazed that he would even tweet back to me as he had thousands of followers and I only had a few. But as it turns out Joe Bower wasn't just another #CelebrityTwitterPersona he was a Real Person! When we finally met he was easy to relate to and we quickly became acquainted.

Some people know Joe as a sports enthusiast, some know him as a teacher; I mostly know Joe as a political activist.  I am honoured to have collaborated with him in the civic forum. He was and will continue to be a source of inspiration for me. Joe and I had many conversations about society and current events. His passion for making a positive contribution to the community was very encouraging. I will never doubt the power of a positive conversation to change the world. In many ways Joe enabled me to change myself for the better.

I got to know Joe more closely about a year ago when my wife Krystal was a candidate for the Alberta Party and we had the opportunity to collaborate with Joe. He was very charismatic in political spheres and was one of Krystal's biggest supporters during the election. He would proof read blogs, help with social media and be source of fortitude and wisdom.
I am honoured to have earned Joe's support for Red Deer City Council.

After the campaign Joe and I went for coffee, well I had coffee, Joe had a beer. We went to Browns Social House. I remember where we sat and how I felt so comfortable in his presence. Joe always gave me 100% of his attention when we were together. He would listen intently, ask mindful questions and be a friend. I realized today at his memorial that Joe was like that with everyone. It is truly a great virtue to have!

It is a testament to how well known and respected Joe was that the entire Harvest Centre was filled with hundreds of people from our community! But knowing him as a friend, his renown to him was merely a periphery and I can witness to the fact that he was consistently humble and authentic.

The last time I spoke with him and shook his hand was only a few weeks ago. The moment keeps going through my mind. I keep seeing him standing in front of me, smiling and I can hear his voice. It is surreal to think how that was our last time together. I feel like there is a void inside me and I am still taken aback by this tragedy.

Joe was all about being a good and loving father. He really understood children and knew so much about parenting.
For example, he changed how I think about rewarding vs. punishing my kids. He helped me relate better to my kids so I could facilitate their own learning experience. For him, success was guiding kids and sustaining a positive relationship that made learning natural and easy.

Joe Bower made a positive contribution to the world and he will continue to be a source of inspiration to many. His writings will live on and continue to encourage many people. The best way that I can honour his legacy is to emulate his many virtues and be the best father that I can be. I am grateful to have been uplifted by Joe Bower.

My sympathy is with the Bower family. May they have the strength to continue through these difficult times.