8 June 2024

Joey: A Meaningful Life

Categories: Life
Joey a meaningful life featured

In Loving Memory

On the Tuesday I visited with my cousin Joey on the phone. On the Friday I wrote a blog post speaking of how I enjoyed talking to her, of how much she meant to me. On Sunday night she died. I am so glad that the last thing I said was: I love you so much!

I thought I wanted to write and tell of the dread diseases she survived, more than survived. I thought I wanted to tell of the truly hard road her life took her down. But I find I don’t. She did walk a hard road. She did more than survive, she lived a good life, a beautiful life, despite or because of the hardship and pain. That is what is to be remembered and celebrated.

She was a mother of three, grandmother of three. I can just imagine the gap that the absence of her physical presence will leave. In the course of work she took care of young children, but for Joey those children became hers as well.

She struggled at school. Hated it when she was little. Now I know she was dyslexic. Back then it was just accepted that she struggled. She was successful as manager of a hardware store. Spoke two languages fluently, was a hard worker. She was an accomplished needlewoman and knitter, an instinctive gardener.

She liked clothes and wore them well. She was a girly girl, she was pretty. She was someone who grew wiser with the years, whose advice could be trusted. She had learnt to recognise what needed to be accepted, and she knew when to be silent.

When we suddenly became part of a small Italian community in the town where she was living with us to attend high school, the Italians called her la joy. That was the closest they came to her name. La joy! Love that!

Joey and I laughed together so much!

At the moment, for me, it feels like I am going upstairs, and I put my hand out to the balustrade to steady myself but there is nothing there.

books, bricks, grief
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it.
Mary Oliver

I feel such pain when I remember I won’t be phoning her again. So sore to think: I’ll ask Joey when we speak… and then I remember she has died. But I am working at also remembering, realising that I haven’t lost her. I can’t lose her. I didn’t lose my aunt or uncle or my mom or dad. These beloveds are just barely out of sight.

Joey and me

I remember a Christmas when we were children that our families spent at a small dam near the farm. It was hot, the thorn trees were covered in yellow blossoms. My dad was catching catfish, my uncle was smoking his pipe. A wasp stung me, and he unscrewed the pipe stem and dabbed some pipe oil on the sore place to soothe it. Joey and I had each received exactly the same presents: toy pianos, tiny little vases and now I don’t remember what else. Cousin Japie or boetie (little brother) as we called him was here, there and everywhere. My mother and my aunt unpacked the Christmas picnic, and I can smell the mud and the blossoms and hear the bees. There they all are!

They beckon to me from the other bank.
I hear them call, see where the stream-path is!
Crossing is not as hard as you might think.
I had not thought it would be like this.
Charles Causly

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