It has taken me three days to even get to the point that I can try and write something, but I need and must do it.
As the world celebrated the loss of a music icon, they didn’t know that there was another loss so big to some of us that our hearts can’t even take it. In the small town of Seaford, Delaware Aunt Joyce gave her last performance. No, she was not a rock star or a singer or even on TV. She was Aunt Joyce to some, Sister, Mother, Grandmother and friend to others. She was a strong presence in her community, she won Mother of the Year, several years ago and if you needed to put together a feast for thousands she was the woman to call.
I know I will not do her complete justice here, because I just can’t even list all the things that made Aunt Joyce who she was. She was the eldest daughter of seven children, born and raised in Montreal, QC she made her way down to Delaware where she met Uncle Wes. Although he was in the Military and from Texas and they moved around throughout the years they returned to Seaford to raise their family when he retired. Uncle Wes built the house they lived in mostly by himself and although we all tried to convince her to leave it after he left us, she stood her ground and refused. “Where would you all stay when you visited?” she would ask, and we told her we would make do, we could take a floor or a couch it wouldn’t matter as long as we got in a visit. She wouldn’t budge. Her older brother even moved all the way from Colorado to live with her when he couldn’t take care of himself anymore. And this is the most shocking part of all. Aunt Joyce was still taking care of someone even when she should have just been enjoying life. But that was her way.
If I even tried to list off all the memories I have of hanging out with Aunt Joyce, I would have a novel for you. So I will have to pick my brain for a few select tidbits.
Growing up when we headed down to the Beach, we almost always stopped in at Seaford on the Friday night, a tradition that Hubby and I have continued for the past 16 years, this year would have been our 17th. Despite the fact that Aunt Joyce had to get everything ready for the cottage, she would still cook a turkey dinner with ALL the fixings for the Friday night. Sometimes we didnt’ get in until late, but there was still a plate left for you or enough for a sandwich if that was all you needed. All of us kids would pull out sleeping bags and line the floors in the living room, family room and back porch eager to get tot the beach, not even giving a thought to the adults that made it happen for us each year. We were young, we were foolish, but we always had fun.
As I got older and my trips to the beach included Hubby, then the kids, I realized why my Mom and Aunt Joyce (and my other Aunt’s and Uncle’s) always looked a little haggered for the first few days at the beach. It is hard work to set up a cottage and bring what you need for your family, it’s not like we were staying in hotels with maid service. But when Aunt Joyce was running the show, as kids, we just assumed there would be lunch and dinner served no questions asked.
Some of my best memories are of Aunt Joyce in her kitchen. As kids we helped make jam and peach pie. Her homemade pickles are to die for. And I don’t know about my cousins and cousin-in-laws but there may just be a little fighting over her recipe books, just sayin’.
Whenever we called to announce on of our visits, I won’t say asked to stay because it was a given, we would be in big, big trouble if we didn’t stay. In fact, last Thanksgiving we went to the beach for a couple of days and didn’t stay, Aunt Joyce was a little sad that we didn’t and we felt terrible not stopping in Seaford, something we had done for each and every other trip, but this time we really needed to get our family to the beach for some R&R so we didn’t make that stop, thinking of course, that we would be there in June for our annual beach trip. How wrong we were.
I can’t even go on, I am not sure what else I should say except a huge Thank You to Aunt Joyce, for making a difference in our lives, for opening up your house to us, for never saying no, for feeding us until we couldn’t eat another bite and then feeding us some more. For showing my children the same love that you gave to us over the years and being a huge part of their annual beach holiday. For showing me the love of the Beach Aunt Joyce, because honestly and truly, had you not gone down to Delaware and met Uncle Wes and then returned there, I am not so sure that my love of all things Beach would be quite the same. I wouldn’t have grown up thinking that we all went to the ocean for summer holiday or that everyone had an “Aunt Joyce” who made those things just a little bit more fun. Thank you Aunt Joyce for the memories and the love.