Friday, August 24, 2012

Sweet Sorrow

Life can be a bitch for many reasons, one of which is that there is no escaping our own deaths, nor is there any escape from the bereavement that is rained upon us by the deaths of others.

Last Saturday, one of the finest women I have ever met “slipped the surly bonds of Earth” at the way-too-young age of 56. Joanne Duke spent the last four years of her life battling cancer, often in terrific pain, yet very few people ever saw her without a smile on her face. She was funny, vivacious, and down to earth…and seemed to become a friend to every person she ever met.

Even hot shots like Keith Urban could not help but embrace her charms. That is Joanne standing to his left (your right) in the picture below. It was taken on a Nashville sidewalk during what she knew might be the last vacation of her life, and according to someone I know who was with her, it was Joanne who grabbed Urban’s arm and made this happen:

Part of me feels like it is not right for me to post about Joanne because others knew her far better than I did. She babysat my brother-in-law and his three siblings when they were kids, and became such an important family friend that she remained a big part of their lives, and attended their children’s birthday parties, all the way to the end…Nevertheless, Erika and I have known her for years and even vacationed with her on Key West. I admire her and feel it would be a dishonor to let her passing go without comment.

Joanne’s memorial service was yesterday morning and something about it was a sight to behold. Her favorite color was turquoise and many, many people wore it to the service. None of those somber black outfits to commemorate her life -- people knew she was cheeky, not dour, and they knew she loved turquoise so they dressed themselves in her honor.

The bad news is that Earth has lost an angel. The good news is that Heaven has gained one, and she will be waiting to greet her loved ones when they complete their journey to eternity.

Here she is (with my brother-in-law’s father) on that Key West trip from November 2005:

Rest in peace…

1 comment:

Fred Alton said...

A great tribute, John, to your friend. The world needs more people like her...and like you ...for your kindness to others. I do not understand why the Lord said to me, "I'm healing you." and allows folks like your friend to die, but I'm thankful for the healing that I'm enjoying now. I'll be walking the 100 mile wilderness of the AT in Maine next month! All approved by the doctor.