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If we were having coffee, I would be out of sorts and once we got settled and comfy, I would probably start telling you about my favorite aunt, Joy.

When I was little, around four, my uncle who lived with us, got a new girlfriend that lived down the street from us. He met her when my mom sent him to Maio’s Market, on the corner, for a dinner ingredient. When we walked by the house where Joy lived, she was outside. That was the beginning of a year sixty year marriage. He brought her to the house to meet us and to meet my mom. My mom was ten years older than my uncle and had practically raised him as she cared for him when my grandmother was at work. So she was very protective of her little brother. Aunt Joy and my mom didn’t get along at first and even once they came to appreciate each other and truly care for one another, there were some rough times, mostly due to “boundaries” perceived and real.

I felt a special bond with her, even in the early days. My middle name is Joy and when I found out that her real name was not Joy, I asked her why she used that as her name. She answered that she hated her given name, Jovita. And one day, while washing dishes as part of her chores, she looked at the bottle of dish washing liquid and decided she would from then on be called Joy, like the soap.

I really liked Aunt Joy. I would go visit her, even before they were married. And I kind of shadowed her when she came to visit my uncle. Later, she took very good care of us, driving across town when my mother was in the hospital and I was having a lot of pain. She helped me and brought medicine and stayed until I felt better and my brothers were home from school.

When I went to college and my parents moved from San Jose in California to Orange County, I spent a lot of time with my aunt. They lived about a half hour from Palo Alto where I attended college. I spent weekends with them and holidays. That’s when she taught me one of the most important things in my life. Volunteering. I went along with her to deliver cupcakes or cookies to my cousins’ classrooms for their parties. I learned about Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts and going on field trips with the kids’ classes. I went along with her to help at church craft fairs and other fundraisers. I asked her once why she did all of that. My mom hadn’t done any of that so it seemed different to me. She explained that we always have a duty to help out whenever we can, especially with schools and youth groups and churches because they don’t have a lot of money or a lot of help. That stayed with me and when I became a mom, I started volunteering as soon as my kids got to pre-school. I never stopped. Class mom, field trip chaperone, den mother for Cub Scouts, troop leader for Girl Scouts. Fundraising chair at the elementary school. PTA president. Foundation President. I still volunteer (well not since the pandemic shut everything and everyone down last March) at the grandkids’ schools.

She taught me so much. She was like a second mom. I’ve always thought of her as one of the five most influential people in my life.

She died yesterday.

I am deeply saddened. I cannot be there to honor her or memorialize her as I am very high risk and not vaccinated yet. It would be too big of a risk. And then there is the money involved. So I can’t. Instead, I will share with others, as I’ve shared here with you. I’ll continue to sip my tea and think about her and just talk to her spirit.

For more #weekendcoffeeshare posts, please visit Natalie the Explorer and, if you are so inclined, please write your own coffee share post and link up here.

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