Building memories and caring for people was more important to her than acquiring things. Education and learning were her life’s work whether it was teaching children in the first and second grade, reading to her children and grandchildren or helping in the community. Her legacy to education and learning is evident in the numerous degrees her children and grandchildren have earned or are earning in education, physical therapy, computer science, business, pre-med, science, social science and political science.
Some of the things which aren’t explicitly said are the following:
Her determination to stand up to the prevailing thought when she believed them wrong.
Her sense of humor. She would make some dry comment with a straight face and an innocent look that would fool half of the people listening making it all the more funny to me.
I sometimes joked that I never believed any of the mother-in-law jokes until I actually had a mother-in-law but I can’t complain about her. She and I would never have been best friends due to our completely different approaches to things (she was very intuitive, I am very factual and concrete) but we never had a fight in the 30+ years I knew her. She never was a problem in my relationship with her daughter or anyone else.
After ‘retiring’ in addition to the volunteering for various public causes she “made the rounds” to her kids and helped with the grandkids for a month or more at a time before moving on to the next.
- I can’t think of a single time that she declined a request for help from us in any way. She let us stay at her place any time, she fixed us countless meals and she took care of our kids when we needed help such as when I was working on my master’s thesis. Even after her stroke which left her paralyzed on her right side she insisted that she would live with her daughter Nancy, who had some health problems at the time, and help her with her kids. Barb had to force Joy to confront her own health situation (the stroke had affected her mind to the point she didn’t realize how handicapped she was) by asking her to show how she could help by standing up out of her wheelchair.
She gave our kids so many books we sometimes thought we would be buried under them. This started before we had our first child because she was afraid some of her favorite children’s books would be out of print before we had children.
Her funeral was the first one I didn’t find myself my attention drifting. Katie did such a wonderful job of being ‘right on’ with her comments about Joy that I was very impressed. Joy probably would have been a little bit embarrassed by all the praise Katie and others heaped on her, but it was all deserved.