It’s hard to imagine life without Grandma Joyce. She was an integral part of my life for over forty years.
I met her at the age of 19, the summer after my first year of college. My sister was dating her son. She was beautiful, vibrant and kind. A mother of seven. She wore colorful clothes and had a dazzling smile. She spoke with a lovely New Zealand accent. I was immediately drawn to her.
My parents adored Joyce. So did my grandmother. They were all delighted when my sister and her son decided to marry. She and my sister were kindred spirits. They became dear friends who celebrated their life journeys together. Joyce was a treasured family member. I remember the day that she called to inform me that my father was dying and it was time for me to come home. Her gentle voice was filled with compassion as she gave me the news. I was 22 years old and living 3,000 miles from home.
Joyce grew up in an orphanage in New Zealand. It was there that she taught herself how to knit with two nails and a piece of string while sitting outside in the dirt. After World War II she married a GI and moved to the United States, bringing her hopes, dreams and creative knitting talent with her.
Joyce was the kind of knitter who needed no pattern. She could whip up a poncho, hat, blanket, socks, mittens, sweater or dress, for a person or a doll, in no time. Grandmother of 18 and great grandmother of 20+, she made sure that all of her offspring had of one her handmade treasures.
She was generous with other people too. One of the most cherished Grandma Joyce items in our house was a purple sweater she made for my youngest daughter. Joyce had her choose her favorite color of yarn, decorated the collar with a festive weave and added buttons that brought a smile to her face every time she put it on. She called it her “Grandma Joyce sweater” and loved it so much that she asked Joyce to knit another one so that she and her big sister could match. They looked so cute in those sweaters and the ponchos and hats that came later.
Over the years, Joyce taught me about grace, patience and the importance of choosing to be aligned with good people in your life. She showed me how to embrace joy and modeled forgiveness. When I was teaching, I looked to her for inspiration. I loved her hands-on teaching style.
She showed me how to knit and crochet when I was 20. I made a few ponchos and blankets but settled for knitting scarves in the end. That’s because all I ever wanted to do was plunk down next to her on the couch and share a pot of tea. Being near Joyce filled me with peace.
A few years ago, we were seated together knitting on my sister’s couch. At the end of the day, she looked over at me with a twinkle in her eye and asked for my permission to straighten out the scarf I had been working on. I hadn’t been paying attention to what I was doing. I was too busy talking to my brother-in-law who had been diagnosed with brain cancer. While she ripped out a great portion of my uneven knitting I smiled and put my head on her shoulder. I didn’t care about the scarf. I had received my gift for the day: time with my beloved brother-in-law and sitting shoulder to shoulder with her.
Over the years I have known many kind, generous and loving people. Grandma Joyce stands out as one of the most loving of all. I am so glad she was part of my life and that our entire family was blessed by her goodness for so long. Peace to you Joyce. And profound appreciation for the joy you brought us all.