Well, the only way I can start this post is by saying that I have a really helpful husband. Either that or he is just as excited as I am to find Joe Wellington.
After reading my blog, my husband decided to email The New Zealand AIDS memorial quilt people and ask about the quilt we saw online for a Joe Wellington. This was a task I wasn't ready to conquer; a grief I wasn't quite ready to bear. I'm actually glad he took it upon himself to ask.
Here is the most-helpful response we received yesterday:
The only information that we have about Joe Wellington is what can be found on the page with his Quilt Panel ( http://www.aidsquilt.org.nz/pages/panels/052.html ). Even though the piece under the photograph of the Panel says, "From the stories folder that accompanies The Quilt to displays" implying that it a section of what we have, it is in fact the total information that we have - the same goes for all such entries.
I can also add that the Panel forms part of the Taitokerau Block (Block 7) of The Quilt which commemorates people from the Taitokerau region of Northland. This block was sticthed together while The Quilt was on tour in Northland in July/August 1992 (see the pages http://www.aidsquilt.org.nz/pages/blocks/b07.html and http://www.aidsquilt.org.nz/pages/northland.html )so Joe would have died some time in early 1992 or earlier as the Panels are only made after the person they commemorate has died.
I hope this is of some help in identifying if this is the Joe Wellington you are looking for.
Website Maintainer for the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt ( http://www.aidsquilt.org.nz)
Life Member of the NZ AIDS Foundation
And there you have it. This couldn't possibly be the Joe Wellington I'm looking for as that quilt was part of their tour in 1992. I met my Joe Wellington in 1998.
While I feel a bit of relief in knowing this wasn't the Joe Wellington I met, I'm completely overwhelmed with emotion looking through some of those beautiful quilts. Please, please take a moment to click on the links above and look at those quilts of people remembered. I am humbled. And what a glorious way to remember someone- to catch the essence of that person's spirit while it was here on Earth. I can't help but to get tearful looking at these quilts with horses on them, books, music notes, flowers, trees, skating, motorcycles... it's as if I knew that person, too.
In July 1998, the 23rd to be exact, I lost someone very close to me to an awful car accident. He was someone who I hadn't spent a lot of recent time with but had wonderful memories of my time with him when we were teenagers. When he died, he was only 19 years old. His death gave me nightmares for a long time. In fact, it haunted me for several years after. I went crazy asking why something like this could happen to someone who was so bright and lively. It was only a few months later, in December of that year, that I took off to explore San Francisco. Just a sheltered little girl from the Midwest searching for answers...
During that time in San Francisco, I did a lot of healing to help me grieve the loss of my friend. I didn't realize it at the time but I understand it now. Joe Wellington was there with me. He listened to me cry- sob actually- about the death of my friend. He didn't console me, didn't try to tell me to get over it, didn't ask too many questions. He just listened. He may have patted my back a bit, but he just let me get it out of my system. It was probably the best sob I've ever had. He was the first person I could really let it out to. I'm not sure he realizes how much I needed him as a friend in that moment.
While my friend didn't die from AIDS, he nonetheless is gone. But not forgotten. Thank you to the wonderful people who make these quilts in honor of those beings who have gone to the hereafter. Thank you to the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt for responding to my husband's inquiry.
Thank you, Joe Wellington.
And thank you to my helpful husband.
Now I must gather myself, clear my head, and continue on my search for someone I don't want to forget.