Kathleen Wright O: I remember standing in front of the White House after driving around Washington and going to the Smithsonian. Tess, having endured it all with utter boredom and standing with her back to the White House thoroughly disinterested, said for about the hundredth time, "But when will we see Jos!?"
Jonathan had such a great connection with Jos. They made me think of "meeting" my baby sister when she was about 20. One day I was trying (badly) to describe my favorite cartoon of all time, when she cracked up and finished the punchline for me. We just sort of connected that day and realized we had the same sense of humor - something I cherish. It was so great to see Jonathan and Jos doing that, too, and they had such fun with each other. Finding each other that way was such a treasure.
For myself, I always saw Jos with Jonathan, Tess, and David. In thinking back over our times together, I tended to be behind the scenes encouraging him to "do the Jos thing" for his adoring younger cousins. Jos was about the most spontaneous person on the planet. And Tess and David always saw him with such expectations of his showmanship - a command performance, I guess - that sometimes he looked like he wanted to run for cover. That gave me my most bittersweet memories. Wonderful because of the incredible effect he has had on David; unfortunate because Jos recalled awkward memories from his own adolescence (while he may not have known of his marvelous impact on David).
When we visited in February of 1998, David (then 12) had already become intensely involved in computer games. At home, he would spend hours at a time totally absorbed in pursuit of points and levels as required by the game at hand. On rare occasions when not thus engaged, he would be at a loss for things to do and would attempt to occupy himself in seemingly endless conversations, often with his father. In California, he had no computer. He had Jos. Or so he thought.
For the next few days, David tried to chat Jos up in a manner which he himself sometimes describes as babbling. At first, Jos reacted with amusement, then surprise when the onslaught of attention didn't taper off. Eventually, as Jos tried in vain to focus on some website work he had been trying to finish all weekend, he determined that something had to be done.
At that point David was asking for the 15-minute course in how to do what Jos did on the Web. Simultaneously he was working on his toessel strategy which seemed to consist exclusively of bugging Jos to give him one just to get him to stop the nagging.
Amazingly, Jos never became angry. Instead, he ad libbed a behavior modification routine that would have made many a child psychologist proud. Jos set limits, and he stuck to them. He began by requiring that David ponder his ideas for a few minutes prior to sharing them. Then, as a reward, David was allowed a fixed interval for expressing himself. Jos gradually increased the times, and instructed David to organize his thoughts, editing them for significance and paying attention to their presentation. He sternly forbade David to mention toessels again prior to his departure on Sunday morning of the following weekend. To do so would end all communication.
To our further amazement, David sat patiently and thought. He didn't go read a book or hide in another part of the house in dismay. He had decided to at least play along. Jonathan and I looked at each other . . . who was this masked man who had tamed his protege?
Along the way, Jos gave him this tip: "I have discovered in life that anything I truly valued has come to me only after self-denial." David quickly responded, "That's easy. I'm constantly trying to fool myself into thinking I can do more than I can." Jos patiently explained self-denial as giving up leisure, etc., to work for knowledge or achievements, **not** to presume them. He went on to explain his approach to toessels, which could never be bought, only earned by bartering with the fruits of ones own labor.
Later we learned that in David, Jos had seen himself as a preteen. In horror, Jos apologized profusely to his parents for his behavior at that age.