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Mr. 60s: A Baby-Boomer’s Story of Trials, Triumphs... and Redemption

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 30, 2024 3:02 am

Mr. 60s: A Baby-Boomer’s Story of Trials, Triumphs... and Redemption

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 30, 2024 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, our next story comes to us from a listener in West Virginia. Here’s Joe Quinn with his story.

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Here's Joe Quinn with his story. On the morning of April 30th, 2019. I got back into acting after raising a family and, and then on April 30th at 530 in the morning. When I was putting my boots on and getting ready for work. I felt something funny. It wasn't funny like haha funny. It was funny like, well, that was weird. So I started tying my boots and a little bit of a hard feeling in my right hand.

It wasn't working very well. I looked at myself in the mirror and I stuck my tongue out and my right side of my face just sagged. I went, oh, oh, God, I'm having a stroke.

So I went upstairs with my right leg starting to dwindle and I went to tell my wife I'm having a stroke and I couldn't talk. So that was the beginning of a real tumultuous journey. I always knew I was adopted.

Always. For my earliest recollection, my parents made sure I knew that I was adopted. So I guess it was important.

But to me, it didn't matter. I had my mom and dad. And as I grew up, I was just a little tyke. And I remember my dad had an affinity for alcohol.

He drank. And I remember one time I was seven. I hit a home run in Little League Baseball. That's all I ever had was that one home run because my daddy, he sort of staggered out of the bleachers in and he was from Louisiana. He was a southerner. My mother was from Germany.

She was a war bride. Well, he my dad comes staggering out of the bleachers and goes. He didn't know he had a home run. I'll always remember that. You know, he said that I was stepping in the bucket and I was just swinging and try to protect myself. That was the only time I mean, I boxed.

Same thing. It was kind of a bizarre relationship with my dad. I think he treated me like his little brother, like I was a sibling and, you know, a sibling rivalry over the affections of mom. He said, let's put the gloves on there. Let's put the gloves on. Get down in the basement box a little bit.

So he was, again, around seven or eight. And man, he knocked me cold. He just he just bam, broke my nose and chipped my front teeth. And I woke up and said, no, no, no, don't make a scene.

Mom won't let us box anymore. But that's just the way then I I really didn't have any sort of a model to look to. I kind of mounted myself after people in the movies. That's all I had, especially a very powerful movie for me when I was growing up. And about that time was Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman. And that was a powerful movie for me.

Another one was 2001 that came out. I thought, wow, that was a really powerful. I didn't understand it, but it was powerful.

And I thought it was great. And I thought that's what I want to be. I thought about being in the movies and being an actor and trying to look for something. I was looking for something. Well, I got some weights and I started losing weights in the basement. And all of a sudden I had something.

There was something. So I went to the Marine Corps out of high school. Again, the weightlifting, as you know, I was made a platoon leader in boot camp. And, you know, they used me to show people how to do push ups, you know, and just all the way through. It turned into a pretty good thing. And I got out of service, started competing right away and got more and more. Now, you know, people were like asking me how to get ready for a show and how do I do this?

How do we do that? All of a sudden I really developed into somebody that when he mentioned my name, people went, oh, oh, the bodybuilder. You know, I got a lot of attention.

I felt people like me and people like having me around. My mom was from Germany. She was kind of a well, she was from Germany and that kind of says it all. I mean, she was very strict and very forthright with everything, with everything, the way you ate, the way you sat, the way you talked.

She expected a certain thing out of people and she expected people to act a certain way and have a certain decorum about themselves, too. I got out of service and I majored in theater. And that was the end of it.

That was really the straw that broke the camel's back with my parents. They were like, oh, theater, what are you doing? Majoring in business or finance or law. Get into pre-law.

You'd be a good lawyer and then do some community theater on the side. What's the matter with you? Anyway, as I got older, I'd ask God, what the heck do you let those two people adopt me for? Just didn't make any sense. You know, I mean, it was nothing there. Nothing.

No support. But I'll tell you what. Weightlifting gave me an identity. It gave me something that I was good at. It gave me something I could be proud of. It gave me something that people liked me and respected me and would ask me questions and asked me to help them. And I thought, well, fantastic. I got something.

I really do. I felt like I was really in something good, with good people, with substantial things to do. Well, anyway, after I got through college and my parents first wanted to go with my mother, she had a cancer in the liver and I was sitting at her bedside when she died. My dad, almost a year to the day later, he had gone back to Louisiana. He had lung cancer. I looked at him and he was in the living room there. There was a house going on.

He was down close to 70 pounds at this time. He was getting really close to the end. I thought for one second I was going to go over there and say, let's put the gloves on. Come on.

Let's put them on. And now I'm just going to hit him as hard as I could with just a straight right hand, bam, right down the middle and just say, how do you like it? That's absurd. You don't replay evil for evil.

It's really much more powerful. I just forgave them, both of them. But the problems really persisted because when my parents had passed away, I mistakenly thought, sure. Now they're gone, my life will be fine.

No, no. My first wife, that ended. My second wife, that also ended because of my shenanigans and because of my bad behavior. I just could not shed that feeling that was following me everywhere. And that was it.

I'm worthless. And you've been listening to Joe Quinn share his story and what a story it is. It starts with abandonment and he is ultimately adopted and was told he was adopted from the earliest time. He had a bizarre relationship with his own father who drank too much. Moreover, it was almost a sibling rivalry between he and his father over his mother. You heard that boxing story.

Just how bizarre. He modeled himself after people in the movies, people like Paul Newman from the epic classic Cool Hand Luke. And in the end, he found meaning and identity lifting weights and also in the pursuit of the arts and in acting.

But anger, resentment and shame and a feeling of worthlessness prevailed in his life. When we come back, more of Joe Quinn's story and check out his documentary Diary of a Bodybuilder at diaryofabodybuilder.com. More of Joe Quinn's story here on Our American Stories. There's a lot happening these days, but I have just the thing to get you up to speed on what matters without taking too much of your time. The Seven from The Washington Post is a podcast that gives you the seven most important and interesting stories.

And we always try to save room for something fun. You get it all in about seven minutes or less. I'm Hannah Jewell. I'll get you caught up with the seven every weekday.

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Take a pause and enjoy a Keebler Sandies. And we're back with our American stories and with Joe Quinn's story. Let's pick up where we last left off. This first therapist, I saw it, he goes, well, first of all, you do know you were an abused child. And I just burst into tears. I mean, it was like a flood. And I mean, it was really a powerful experience, cathartic, in fact. Then I got to my third wife and oh, well, that almost made it. But eventually the torment of where I came from, fueled by alcohol, still drove me to do terrible things. Eventually, 2005, February 6th, I went to my first meeting, the program AA. I thank God for AA and I'm in it today. I sponsor people and I closed in on 17 years of sobriety, so I dealt with it. At this point in my life, I feel as though I've got a handle on things, but from a very different perspective, following that stroke I had in April of 2019. So that that's the biggest challenge I've had in my life.

My parents are not my challenge anymore. And the weightlifting as it came through the the gamut, it was solid. It was stable. It was something I encountered. And I didn't need anybody else. Like if I was if I was boxer, I'd need a trainer. I need a sparring partner. You know what I mean? But you would lift weights. Just go around the basement and set your dumbbells and your barbell down and turn some music out and get to work.

You know, and you can do that anywhere. It's always there whenever you need it, except when you have a stroke. I don't mean to sound facetious, but it's really hard for me. I miss it. I miss it terribly, terribly.

It's like the death, a death of a family member that I can't work out. So my bodybuilding has been cut short. I was I remember competing at the Nationals in Pittsburgh in 2016. I remember being on the stage and looking out over a dark auditorium with people.

And I would say close to 70 percent, maybe more were on their cell phones. They weren't even watching, watching my posing routine. And I love posing.

I love I won best poser at some contests. And I was I didn't feel offended or angry. I felt sad.

This is the end. They took some pictures of us and a friend of mine sent me the pictures after they were developed. And I have to tell you, I I did not look good in those stupid pictures. It looked ridiculous in those shorts. Those speedos reminds me of when I used to run my bicycle out to the end of a pier over there in the summers.

And the old men would be out there just standing there talking. And when these speedos look, it looks ridiculous. When I saw myself, I felt like, wow, I look just like those old dudes that were hanging out at the end of the pier over there of North Avenue Beach. And I mean, they look bad. So I thought, was that me looking like that? I mean, aesthetics are gone.

They're out the window. I'm not going to be part of that anymore. Now, in my life, I I became a Christian when I was 18 years old in the Marine Corps. And in spite of my struggles, I've always seen that the peace and the power and the real victory and everything was here. In my drunken and often drunken and angry tirades against God was a verse that always came to mind that neither this man sinned or his parents sinned. He was born blind so that God could be glorified. So I was put into that situation, into that challenge, into that hell, into that cesspool for an opportunity for God to be glorified.

I think that is glorious evidence, even in spite of those people. I love the Lord. I have grown to understand just how powerful He is, especially through the stroke and through this lightest challenge in life. That is probably the biggest thing I'll ever undertake, aside from my death. And I'm not afraid to die anymore because I was in the midst of terror after that stroke, terror. And that word doesn't even do it justice. I hope to God no one has to go through what I did with the stroke.

Just what an awful experience. But on the flip side of all that is that God's going to be glorified in that stroke. God's going to be glorified in my life. And that's all that matters because I feel that I was created to bring Him glory in spite of who I am. But now in my life I have God, I have a beautiful home, a beautiful wife.

I have an absolutely beautiful life, I do, in spite of having the stroke. I feel positive, I feel empowered. I feel that because of forgiveness, solely because of forgiveness, I've been able to release all the past issues and anomalies and things that were just evil in certain instances that brought me up. But it forged me into the exact person I think God had in mind.

And it's not for me. My life's not mine. My life is His. It's to give Him glory and that's what I hope I do.

And that's what I strive for in spite of all the flaws that I have. And a great job on the production, as always, by Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to Joe Quinn for sharing his story.

To learn more about Quinn, check out his documentary called Diary of a Bodybuilder at diaryofabodybuilder.com. And the dam burst when his therapist told him later in life, you know you were an abused child. In 2006 we learned he went to his first AA meeting. Thank God for AA, he said. And he's closing in on 17 years of sobriety. But the biggest challenge of his life wasn't his parents anymore, it was his stroke.

He'd lost weightlifting, he'd lost his identity. But he was searching for real peace and power. And he found it through his faith walk. I'm not afraid to die anymore. I was created to bring God glory despite who I am. I have a beautiful home, wife, and life, and feel positive and empowered.

And I couldn't have done it without forgiveness. The story of Joe Quinn, of his fall and his redemption, here on Our American Story. I'm Katja Adler, host of The Global Story. Over the last 25 years I've covered conflicts in the Middle East, political and economic crises in Europe, drug cartels in Mexico. Now I'm covering the stories behind the news all over the world in conversation with those who break it. Join me Monday to Friday to find out what's happening, why, and what it all means. Follow The Global Story from the BBC wherever you listen to podcasts.

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