Joyce was a godly, optimistic woman who radiated love and kindness wherever she went. She always looked for the best in others, and was ready with an encouraging word, a smile, or a warm hug and offer of prayer for whoever needed it…and you could always be sure she would follow through with it too. Because of her sweet spirit and genuine love for others, she gained the respect and admiration of most all who knew her.
Now if you did not know Joyce, there was nothing about her appearance that would immediately draw attention to her. She was a simple woman who dressed neatly and could have been referred to as pleasantly plump. Her usually roller set hair was brown…if she chose to color it. Otherwise it was salt and pepper gray. She always wished she’d inherited her mother’s snow white hair. When you were near her you could always smell a hint of White Diamonds…her favorite perfume. Her thin hands and fingers showed signs of age but they were hands that worked hard, and conveyed so much love as they tirelessly cared for her family and friends. When she laughed (which she did often), her soft brown eyes would squint as her head tilted back and her hands held her belly! Her laughter was contagious. You couldn’t help but laugh along with her until your sides hurt! You could often hear her say; “Laughter is the best medicine!”
After Joyce retired, if she wasn’t at her church or one of her daughters’ homes, she could usually be found at the old farmhouse that she shared with her husband of forty-three years. The place was old and rickety, but she did her best to make it warm and inviting. It tended to be a bit cluttered with the things that brought her joy; mostly her many family photos and her books. She loved to read and did so regularly. She loved her family more, and spent every opportunity she could with them. She was overjoyed every time her family grew. It had expanded over the years from two daughters, to the addition of two sons-in-law, and eventually six grandsons. Her children and grandchildren seemed to breathe life into her. She enjoyed every moment with them. She adored them…and they her. If she wasn’t cooking some wonderful smelling food for her family, she was probably at her kitchen table with a cup of tea or coffee, reading her Bible. Even more important than her family was her relationship with, and love for her Savior. Her simple yet rich life showed abundant evidence of that.
Life had not always been easy for Joyce. She carried burdens most never knew, and dealt with what seemed to be more than her fair share of trials. But she never complained. There were times her heart was breaking, and she would shed many tears to the Lord in prayer, and rely on her faith in Him and the promises in His Word to strengthen her and carry her through. At no time was this more evident than when the diagnosis came. December. 1998. Pancreatic cancer. Through the intense pain, the hair loss from chemo, the exhaustion, surgeries and constant trips to the doctor, hospital and cancer treatment center, she always maintained her sense of humor and positive attitude. She would manage a smile and reassure the family and friends that God was still in control and still good. When it was obvious she was in pain, you’d hear her say; “This too shall pass”, or “There’s always someone worse off than me. God will get me through this.” People would visit to cheer and comfort her and they ended up being the ones blessed. She truly was the epitome of grace and dignity. Loved, adored, and highly respected everyone whose life she touched.
I myself had overwhelming love and respect for this woman named Joyce. Though I would never wish her back from the presence of Jesus, there is a void in my life that will never again be filled. She was my biggest cheerleader. She would make me laugh when I was taking life a bit too seriously. She was my best friend. I believe with my whole heart I am the woman I am today because of her faithful prayers for me, and her godly example. She was my mother.
Mom, in exactly two months from Mother’s Day, you have been gone from us and with Jesus for 15 years. Here I am crying again as I write this. I still miss you so much. But I am so thankful for your influence in my life. I’m thankful for the memories. I treasure them. You always told me I was a writer, and I never believed you. I still don’t sometimes, but I’m being obedient to God and trying to do something with it. It’s all for Jesus Mom. I know your proud of your kid. You always were. Happy Mother’s Day Mommy…and thank you again…for everything. I’ll always love you, and look forward to the day when I’ll see you again. You can take me by the hand to see Jesus. Love you Much, Your Debbie-Do 🙂