Childhood (Suburban Brat):
Teenage Years (Suburban Brat):
Were you to ask Joseph Bessette, “Who are you?”, the answer would be: “Husband, father, and Carmelite.” (He still wears his wedding band and has absolutely no intent to remarry.) Notice, he doesn’t say “mechanic” — he doesn’t consider himself to be a mechanic, he works as a mechanic, though it’s work he excels at and enjoys. As part of always doing his best on the job, he makes a point to stay in good physical shape and exercises daily.
His quiet, unassuming nature and careful deliberation before taking action can be mistaken for slowness, but friends and family know better. They consider him a rock of faith and reliability, using words like “dependable”, “disciplined”, “steadfast”, “self-sacrificing”, and “loyal” to describe him. A devoted father of 10 (9 living, 1 dead) and grandfather of 5, he’s extremely close to his children and played a strong and active role in their upbringing. In turn, they’re devoted to him, continually turning to him for advice and guidance. (An aside: Unbeknownst to him, there’s a running debate over who gets to care for him should he ever need it — they all want to!)
In addition to caring for his family, his concern extends to his community and indeed, the whole world. People continually seek him out and ask him to pray for them or their loved ones, which he does, diligently writing all prayer intentions in a small notebook he keeps for that very purpose. While possibly extraordinary to others, his faith is in keeping with his upbringing and family history — the Bessettes have been unassumingly devout Catholics for generations; priests and religious abound in the family tree and continue to come from it.
The Bessettes are also known for their quality tradesmanship, with many mechanics (Joseph’s father, an uncle, and grandfather, for example), carpenters, bakers, clock-makers, tailors, jewelers, and the like in the family. Around the time he took over JMJ Mechanics, Joseph’s twin 15-year-old sons, Andre and Alphonsus, began helping out (as had Joseph himself at their age), later becoming excellent mechanics themselves.
#1: Father Martin Whittam, OFM Conv.: When Joseph’s brother, Benjamin, was killed in a drunken driving accident, the family strove to forgive the driver, Robert Whittam, then 23. A bitter, angry, and resentful man, Robert was furious over his father’s abandonment when he was a baby, and he’d struggled for years with alcoholism and minor run-ins with the law. Confounding media pundits covering the trial, the Bessettes reached out to Robert’s mother, Louise, and to Robert, regularly visiting him throughout his entire incarceration and praying for him. Awed and humbled by the Bessettes, he emerged from prison a changed man.
He entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (Franciscans), was given the religious name Martin, and was later ordained a priest. The Bessettes consider him family (“Uncle Martin”), and he’s officiated at all family baptisms, weddings, and funerals. (An aside: After Judith’s death, Joseph had the silver Miraculous Medal she always wore embedded in the handle of his wooden cane, and Fr. Martin blessed the cane.)
#2: Jeffry Marello: While Joseph was walking downtown one day in 2002, a panhandler asked him for money. Joseph always responded by giving away certificates redeemable for food at a Franciscan-run homeless shelter. He stopped to consider the drunken and disheveled figure hunched on the pavement before him — there was something about this young man that gave him pause.
Slowly squatting down to look him in the eye, Joseph gently cupped his hand around the man’s dirty, tear-streaked cheek.
“You don’t have to live this way, son,” he quietly said. “Here’s my card. If you come to my shop, I’ll give you a job. There’s a room over our garage where you can stay until you get back on your feet. It’s your choice.” With that, Joseph straightened up and continued on his way, leaving a stunned Jeffry Marello clutching the card in his wake.
Jeffry showed up the next day and, for the next year, worked in Joseph’s shop, lived over his garage, and shared meals with the family. With Joseph and Judith’s help, he later opened a bakery, 7th Heaven Bakery, which grew into a successful franchise. Jeffry married Joseph’s oldest daughter, Teresa, and they have three children.
Age at time of game start: 53 years old (Year 2013)
Marital status: Widower
Profession: Mechanic; watch repair (and some design)