Several of you have written to ask my feelings regarding Joe Weider’s death this past Saturday.
It’s essential to start by extending my warmest thoughts and prayers to Joe’s wife, Betty (who was always so dear and sweet to me). I know that in her time of grief, she’ll be surrounded by loving family and friends. Also, to those who loved Joe and were close to him, I offer heartfelt condolences. It’s never easy when someone we care for fades from our material lives. Memories may be lucid and powerful, but physical proximity is primal.
It may surprise some to learn that Joe and I considered each other friends. And even though ours was a relationship filled with serious ups and downs, it was also a testimony to the ways in which we fragile humans can be like oil and water, can drive each other to absolute distraction and yet, in the end, respect each others’ underlying spirit. That was Joe and me: These two headstrong men, each trying to make his way in an often confounding world, who could argue one day and then sit down to share a meal and a joke the next.
I would also suggest to those who mainly saw a darker shade of Joe that there is extraordinary power in the act of approaching the day-to-day humanity of another person with humility and a willingness to forgive and move forward. After all, who among us wouldn’t wish that even our most ardent adversaries might cut us a bit of slack; might see the world through our eyes, if only for a fleeting moment.
I am eternally grateful to Joe for giving me -- a shy kid from the sticks, who was using bodybuilding as a tool to battle back nihilism and save his own life -- that first real break. Those were times at once innocent and complicated, and I’m glad Joe and I shared a bit of the road together.
Travel easy, Joe. You were one of a kind.