Boy, do we need more joy! It’s healing. It’s life-giving. It’s a gift from God! I think this is one of the reasons I miss David so much. Joy oozed from every pore of his being. His joy for life, family, friends, Yankees, Jesus, Packers, hamburgers and french fries, and girls, would emanate from him, get inside of you and change you. I miss it!
I asked a number of people who knew David well to describe how they saw and experienced David’s joy. His youth pastor, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, mother, brother, and caregiver/aid took a few minutes to share from their personal experience with David how his joy impacted and changed their lives. For you see joy, real joy is powerful. Not only is it life-giving, but it is also life-changing.
Jon: Youth Pastor
The amazing thing about David was that the more his vision declined the more clearly and vividly he seemed to see spiritual things, specifically what heaven would be like in his own mind’s eye.
David taught me so much about joy because, to David, Heaven was tangible and even more real than the ground we were standing on. From what I could tell, this is where David’s joy always came from. He had a million things he loved in this life, like his Packers, the ladies, his friends, but the joy that seemed to carry him through the darkness he experienced always seemed much deeper than I ever realized. He would often pause in the middle of a pretty fun or benign conversation to ask me some really deep or interesting thing about Heaven or what God would think about something. I think this was such a gift God gave to David, to see something so vividly that the rest of us were only trying to imagine. And of course, David’s personality was so full of happiness, love, curiosity, and positivity I couldn’t be around him without experiencing joy, even when his condition was making me sad. What a gift to have known David at all, one of the highlights of my life.
Donna: Teacher of the Visually Impaired
We all have those times of joy that we will never forget. For David Pfohl, it seemed to be a state of being. That sense of happiness came both in frequency and degree.
As a middle school student, his hellos were never discerning. Hellos always came with the brightest smile and an open heart anticipating connection. He entered the room ready to fully participate in happiness.
People brought David joy. If he heard footsteps coming his way he would open to the experience. He would reach out with a smile, a warm greeting, and his always open heart. When a willing participant engaged and reached back he would be sent to the next level ….full-body joy. Full body joy often included a bit of a hop, the rubbing of the hands together so quickly that I am sure heat was produced and a smile that invited everyone in.
David’s normal setting was Joy, each and every day, whether he was greeting his schoolmates or the customers at Walmart it was his default setting it was an infectious gift to all.
But, I remember his time as a transport aide at Van Duyn as especially divine. David loved to engage the elderly patients in conversations on his favorite topics, the Yankees or the Packers (depending on the season), joke-telling, and his belief and love for Jesus.
He knew he was helping others, he knew he was connecting and these interactions lasted longer in time as individuals were transported to and from their therapy. He beamed brightly with each new connection and showered his new friends in joy. He shared it fully and it was returned fully.
Funny thing about joy… it lasts and lasts and lasts.
David found particular joy in all types of music. When I first met him we would “crank” the radio or Robin Mark CD in the car in between social engagements and chores. In the cozy bedroom off of his parent’s kitchen, it was often Tailor Swift (I’m not sure how, but he just knew she was “So Pretty”). David lovingly introduced me to worship music, which was vastly different from my Roman Catholic choir girl upbringing, at Eastern Hills. He would clap and stand and often get tears in his eyes when the praise band played. I will always feel grateful that we shared how our hearts would well up as we sang along. At the end of his days with us, one of the few things that could elicit a smile and calm him was slipping his headphones on. That Beautiful smile was the joy leaking out of his soul, touching every person who was blessed to see it.
When I think of David, a word that always comes to the forefront is “joy.” From the time he was a baby and throughout his life, David’s joy exuded from his persona like a fragrance. He loved people.
David had a knack for sensing others’ needs and then figuring out a way to encourage them, bringing them joy. It didn’t matter if he knew the person or not. If he was in the presence of a complete stranger who would give him the slightest acknowledgment, David would gregariously engage them in conversation, moments later leaving the perplexed soul smiling and built up.
David’s joy was visceral. His excitement was pure and it was evident he held nothing back. Hands rubbing and feet wiggling, David would often jump for joy. His conversations with friends led to loud giggles and unending movement in his favorite chair. Imaginative baseball games included the roar of the crowd and screams of excitement as his team hit yet another grand slam. David experienced joy like few others. I know a large part of this joy was because of his hope in his savior Jesus, and David couldn’t help but share it with others. So in honor of David, put aside the fear of what others will think of you and rub your hands in excitement. Wiggle your feet when you hear some good news, and jump for joy when your heart leads you to. What a blessing it is that David did not hold back his joy, why should we?
So who is it that brings you joy? Would you be willing to describe for us the joy your child’s life brings you or how you see joy “exuded from their persona like a fragrance?” If you knew David share your story of joy. Let’s be life-changers! Let’s spread some joy today. Thank you David for once again spurring us on. Dad