This photograph of my father and his wife Joanne is my favorite photo taken of my dad. Why? He’s smiling. He’s seated next to the love of his life. Joanne was the huge hearted gal who not only was devoted to my father during their brief years together before he drowned in a sailing accident, but was the women who fully accepted his devotion to her.
Joanne peacefully passed away August 25. She told me the last time I visited with her, five days earlier, that she was looking forward to being rejoined with my father. For the last time, she told me “You are an angel.” I lay my head down and she stroked my hair.
I remember meeting Joanne for the first time in the fall of 1994, when my dad had invited Susan and me to dinner at his apartment. (First impression? Tall, vital, glamorous, warm.) She took me aside and told me she was working on my dad to step up and “be a father again.” I was forty years old at the time, and welcomed her effort–and it proved so successful that we shared a Christmas the next year with the newly married Joanne and Crede, and, with my mother Jean, and with Joanne’s sons and their families, and with my brother and his family, and my own family .
It was the first time my divorced parents had celebrated a holiday in the same room in over twenty years. Likewise, it was the first time I had celebrated a holiday family style in over twenty years. My mother Jean thought Joanne had, literally, “worked a miracle.”
My mother loved her ex-husband’s third wife, and she thought Joanne was an angel too.
Joanne ‘s devotion to my father, friends, and her family simply and also directly expressed her deep nature.
Her attitude echoed Meister Eckhardt, ‘One must not always think so much about what one should do; but rather what one should be,’ yet maybe goes farther because she was naturally devoted and didn’t have to think about it.
. . .an angel.