I last saw my Aunt two years ago and I thank God that we got to spend so much quality time together. She was wonderful, vibrant, and welcoming. I enjoyed seeing her new home and, as always, was impressed with her wonderful sense of style. Every room was hand painted, every piece of furniture carefully placed. She proudly displayed the things she loved and took me through each room explaining every item from her collection of everything from crystal birds to her mother’s ambrosia bowl. (My great-grandmother only used that bowl for ambrosia salads and it brought back special memories for Aunt Jo as I listened intently to her recollections of her beloved mother, Anna Ruth Buchanan Sullivan.)
Aunt Jo also showed me collections of antique hairbrushes and curling irons, a few of which were owned by her grandmother. I was blown away when – as I was working on scanning some of her old photographs – the smell of my favorite meal wafted into the room. Not only did she remember that my absolute favorite meal of all time was barbequed ribs, but she also knew that it wasn’t complete unless there was corn on the cob served along with it. The day before, we had gone to a tourist attraction together with my son, Lucas, my Aunt Kittie and her grandson Nick. Aunt Jo was so healthy and vibrant that whole day that I never had the slightest inkling that something was wrong. But, shortly after I came back home, I learned the truth about her health, and that after a lot of testing, the doctors diagnosed her with cancer. She battled it bravely and never seemed to give up hope.
The prayers that you said on her behalf really meant so very much to her and I want to thank you for that. It was hard for me to understand what happened because I am positive that your prayers saved my life. It was incomprehensible to me that they didn’t save hers. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it.
I didn’t even take her name off of the group address list, thinking that one day she’d drop me another line. Just a quick update on anything that she was working on – her hand-made bird houses, her garden, amusing anecdotes about her husband Dick’s model planes, or fishing and hunting trips, maybe the birth of another grandchild – to let me know that she was just as busy as ever.
Aunt Jo was the youngest of my grandmother’s sisters and her passing still doesn’t make any sense. One day, my Uncle Dick called and asked to remove her address because he couldn’t deal with the flood of e-mails. I knew that I should have already done this, but still it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. I couldn’t do it, in fact, until my hubby, Steve, stood behind me and wouldn’t stop pushing me until I hit the delete button. I was shaking so bad.
Many of you came to know Aunt Jo as just about the kindest woman you’d ever met. No matter what the situation, she had only kind words to say about everyone and I always hoped that her positive thinking would rub off on me. In fact, that is the thing I had most marveled at about her. I wish that I could be a big enough person to have that kind of strength of character.
She was also very, very talented. She was quite an artist with an uncanny talent for color and depth. When I visited her home as a child, I was always impressed with her paintings and also the exquisite way she decorated her home. No bland white walls for Aunt Jo! Her impeccable taste was apparent in her elegantly furnished surroundings. And, her sense of style wasn’t just indoors. She also had a “green thumb” which showed in her beautiful roses and the other plants in her garden, as well as in the rest of the landscape. Her taste was also apparent in how she was always beautifully dressed. As a child, I thought that my Aunts Jo and Rose were the most beautiful women I’d ever seen and I wished some of their “style” would rub off on me. I loved the hand-painted cards she often sent me so much that I saved them all.
I know how important the group was to her and I wouldn’t let the group fold away, but I may still be a little slower with things as I deal with her loss. I found a new source of inspiration, however, when I decided to dedicate this group to her memory.
Thanks for your understanding,
From The Flint Journal:
Davis, Norma (Jo)
DAVIS, Norma (Jo) - Of Otisville, age 63, died Friday, April 9, 2004 at Genesys Health Park. Funeral service will be 11AM Tuesday, April 13, 2004 at St. Francis Xavier Church, Rev. Fr. Francis Faraci officiating. Burial in Flint Memorial Park. Prayer vigil to be held at the funeral home 7PM Monday, April 12, 2004 with visitation on Sunday from 6PM-9PM and Monday from 10AM-9PM.