Every Wednesday for the past seven years this wonderful woman comes into our home and embraces us with her endless love and compassion to serve special needs family's like ours. Her name is befitting, her name is Joy. She is a nurse, caregiver, friend, & nurturer to all of us. She has been a "grandmother" to Ari, teaching her things like baking, sewing, and making the best ham and cheese sandwhich that one could ever take a bite out of. And I can't forget the basketball lessons. Joy loves to teach Ari how to dribble a basketball in our hallway, their makeshift basketball court, where Ari pretends to beat her best friend at hoops. She brings countless hours of laughter and joy to our hearts each week. She always takes special care to remind us of the things that Ari CAN do! I think its a gift of hers that we will always cherish.
Joy has so many special qualities. I like to call her our very own "Betty White". She has more humor, energy and drive than most twenty somethings. She still works and plays like a person in their thirties. She generously donates her time like a person in their sixties. I am forbidden to share her age but lets just say she could possibly be Betty's younger sister. Joy defies age and limits. She is so full of life and I wish I could bottle her endless optimism. Nothing can keep her down, nothing stops her, not even a terminal illness. If you were to meet her you would have no idea that she is a cancer survivor or that Cancer struck again for the third time this past December. It seems like it was such a long time ago but less than two months have passed since the cancer reared its ugly head.
It was almost Christmas and I found myself at the hospital everyday with Joy while she was undergoing surgery & treatment for this dreadfull disease. She insisted that I not come to see her, that I had enough on my plate to keep me busy with home, work, and the holidays. But I insisted I needed to be there. She thanked me for comforting her and told everyone I was there to give her emotional support. What she didn't realize was that I needed reassurance. I needed to see her. I was not ready to say goodbye and I needed another Wednesday with Joy. So everyday became a Wednesday that week, full of endearing moments for me. She said she just wanted to taste a cookie, so I brought 2 dozen of her favorite cookies to share with she and her hospital roomie. I didn't care if she only took one bite, I just wanted her to have a smile on her face. She said she wanted to travel, so I found a beautiful exotic vacation magazine for her to read. She spoke about her unfinished bucket list. I wept privately all week as she talked about her cancer and I listened. During this time I learned even more about this remarkable woman and her life's story. She is truly my Heroe. She is truly a Warrior.
Last week twenty-five of us gathered for a surprise Birthday bash for Joy. We all came to honor and celebrate the many years Joy has graced our lives with her presence. It was the best birthday party I've gone too in a long time. In true Joy fashion she was so humbled that her family and friends would come together for her special day. We all hope that we can celebrate another birthday with Joy. I secretly hope that I can celebrate more Wednesdays with Joy!
Wishing you Miles of Smiles