The Sweet and Salty Jo Bee

Happy first weekend of December. It’s been a busy fall.

To borrow a song lyric , “I’ve been one poor correspondent and too too hard to find. But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind”.

I use that lyric a lot with friends when I haven’t been in touch, but it’s one of my favourite lines in music, thanks America and Sister Golden Hair.

In truth. I’ve only neglected my blog. I’m pretty active on social media.

I did promise myself that I would only write here, from the heart and never write “fill” because I have a quota to meet. I have even more respect for columnists.

This time of year I’m feeling a lot.

First and foremost.

Life changes.

Our family planned one of those elusive weekend visits on November 9.

They are not easy right? Dawn’s Dad and Marie were flying in from Winnipeg. They’d never met Louise, their great grand child. It was time.

Brady and Abbie and the girls were driving to Ottawa from Kitchener and Adam planned on being back from Thunder Bay after a Grand Slam of Curling event. It was going to be epic and hectic.

It took a turn.

Brady called me the Thursday night before they were going to leave and I thought he just wanted to go over the rules of engagement for the weekend. But no. He sounded very anxious and had some news.

Joanne (his Mother in law) had been rushed to the hospital and Abbie was on her way to be with her Dad Stu. He said it was unlikely they could make the trip to Ottawa now.

No kidding.

I told him to do what he needed to do. Take care of the girls and let us know what we could do.

A bit later we found out he was on his way to London as well with August and Lulu (sleeping in their seats). That didn’t sound good.

It was Thursday night at 10pm. When he arrived. (11:30), he texted me and said Jo had a stroke and she was in surgery. OMG.

I told him we’d keep our phones on all night and to let us know how it’s going. I have to say I felt so helpless. What could we do to help? Except be available. Dang.

About 6am, Dawn got a call from Brady and he told us that Jo had an aneurism and had been declared absent of brain activity.

She was gone.

What a shocking and tragic turn of events.

She remained on life support until Saturday.

Jo and the family wanted to donate any organs possible so it took several hours for harvest testing. As it turned out, her liver and kidneys were used to help 2 others live.

Jo would have loved that.

Her memorial service was overflow attendance. Of course.

When a loved one leaves us. It’s incredibly sad. But I have realized over the years that there really is something to “Resting in peace”. To saying goodbye.

It’s the gathering of family and friends and the support and expressions of condolences and the hugs and the laughs and the tears and the recollection of memories and stories that is comforting and helpful.

I know that if I have a say, I don’t want to leave here in pain or have my demise drawn out. But I also know I have little to no say in that. We should all take comfort though that we have people who love us and will miss us no matter how we go.

It seems every week this year. I’ve heard or read about someone I know passing away. Young and old, suddenly or inevitably due to illness, but all leaving an indelible impact on the friends and loved ones left to grieve.

If you’ve lost someone recently. My condolences.

Let’s all live everyday and while we are here, let our legacy be, if not the dramatic advancing of health, science, arts or humanity, then merely kindness and caring and appreciation for what we have and for those we have in our lives.

What else can we do that is in our control?

The Borland Family invited family and friends to say a few words at the memorial.

These were mine.

We share a lot.

We share long marriages with our spouses.

We share the highs and heavy lifting of parenthood.

We share children who brought us together as “family”.

We share our 2 grand daughters and the great joy they bring us.

We share life skills and experiences.

We share an optimism for knowing people, exploring places and discovering things.

We share the love of music

We share text messages and shared pictures.

We share a sense of seeing the lighter side of life.

We share a love for gardening. Although you are the horticulturalist

We share a disobedient streak to requests for material moderation from our kids.

We share a love for our family, who sadly, now share in collective grief with hundreds of others in your sad and sudden and shocking passing.

Words are tough to find when this happens. There’s really nothing you can say or do to change anything so you settle on sharing condolences and the shared comfort knowing you’d want us all to carry on.

Except you would use the eff word.

I loved your eccentricities. You are such a character.

You loved our son. And he loved you.

Thank you Brady for being here for everyone this past week. We seem to only get the mettle test when it’s unexpected and you passed with flying colours. We’re very proud of you.

Stu. Thank you as well for your grace and composure under grief and shock and stress and all you’ve handled this week. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been. I’ve always admired your professional, academic and personal accomplishments, your inquisitiveness, and your incredible ability to not only survive but thrive in the midst of all that estrogen.

Jo, you and Dawn were peas in a mother in law pod. You talked a lot.You laughed a lot. And you loved a lot. I will miss overhearing your conversations. And eff words.

You were always so giving and generous with August and Lu. You were always worried about us getting our time and being involved with them living far away. You needn’t have worried. We took great comfort knowing how much love they are exposed to with you and Stu and the family. But that was you Always thinking of others.

Abbie. Words are elusive but suffice to say we are so proud of you. Thank you for loving our son and thank you for being such an amazing mother.

If you had any fragment of doubt about how proud Jo was of you. Well…..we know you don’t.

I feel very sad about not being able to see your Mom again, but I take comfort knowing she lives in you and your sisters and your daughters. She won’t be out of mind ever.

Stay strong and continue to be your wonderful self. Life isn’t without its trials and tribulations but it is a wonderful life and you have so much to take advantage of. I love you Abs.

Jo, I never shared a drink with you.

And come to think of it I can’t remember having dinner with you.

But I don’t think I’ll ever see a coffee pot or a bowl of Dare candies without it reminding me of you.

You gave me a trunk full of hosta 2 years ago. Your idea. After I admired your gardens. That was you.

I know every spring I will take comfort in watching them break the ground and blossom into beautiful green miracles.

And I will think of you and all the things we share.

And I will smile.

One response to “The Sweet and Salty Jo Bee”

  1. Thanks for this heartfelt reminder of ‘a wonderful life’ worth living. Thanks for being a friend. And thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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