Joshua Geary celebrated his 11th birthday last week at St. John’s City Hall, a guest of Mayor Dennis O’Keefe.
The meeting and tour of council chambers came after Joshua sent a get-well card to O’Keefe when he found out that the mayor needed open-heart surgery in April.
Joshua said he’s admired the mayor for several years. His mother, Valerie Geary, would drive him to school at Hazelwood Elementary in St. John’s and they’d often see O’Keefe out for his morning walk.
“Mom told me who he was and then one day I wanted to say hi to him. But when Mom stopped the car, I told her to go on because I was kind of nervous,” Joshua admitted.
Several times, he tried to get up the nerve to meet the man who he says “helps all the people.”
Then he heard that the mayor was in hospital having surgery. His reaction was similar to that of many other people when they heard the news.
“I never thought it could happen to him. He seemed so healthy, and with all that walking,” Joshua said.
“I was shocked, kind of, and kind of concerned. Then, when Mom explained to me what triple bypass was, I was really concerned.”
Joshua followed O’Keefe’s recovery. When his mother brought home The Telegram, he’d ask her if there was anything in the newspaper about the mayor.
He decided to send O’Keefe a get-well card and told him how he looked forward to seeing him out walking again.
“He called me back after and told me how he was on the road to recovery and he invited me here for a meeting,” Joshua said on Thursday, just moments before the big event. “So, I’m actually going to get to talk to him.”
Although he hadn’t yet punched in a full day as an 11-year-old, Joshua already knows what he’d like to do when he’s an adult.
“I’d like to be the mayor. I’d help people with their lives and if I got sick and somebody sent me a card, I’d let them come here and meet me,” he said.
O’Keefe received hundreds of cards from people throughout the province during his recuperation. They all mean a great deal to him, he said, and helped him get back on his feet.
Still, there was something special about Joshua’s gesture, he said.
“I was so impressed by this young man and how he had followed my illness, my progress and my recovery. So I phoned and told him that he’d have to come down and have a chat with me when I recovered. ... After all, it’s Joshua and other young people like him who are the future of the city.”