Saturday, January 21, 2012
Rest in Peace, Aunt Joy
Aunt Joy passed away peacefully at 11:40 last night. She was removed from her breathing machine around 2:30 earlier that afternoon. Joy continued to prove that she is a fighter and continued to hold on. They gave her minimal oxygen and morphine so she wouldn't go into distress. She took her last breath with her husband by her side.
It has been a long week of waiting and praying. Waiting to see if the therapeutic hypothermia would work. Waiting to see if she would wake up. Waiting for her to be released from this world.
My heart is heavy. All of my family is deep in mourning. Gosh, I wish you all could have met her. My hope is that you have someone like Joy in your life. Although, there is no one quite like her.
Joy was an avid pig collector. Their house was stuffed full of books, religious artwork, and pigs. To Joy's delight, very few pigs were harmed or blown away during the Joplin tornado.
Joy loved to read and enjoyed her time working part time in a book store before she retired.
Joy loved Jesus and she deeply embraced her Catholic faith. She was a good, faithful Catholic long before the rest of us in the McAdams family got our spiritual butt kicking/wake up call. I remember being shocked beyond anything when I found out she was a convert to the faith. Joy's identity was Catholic. I couldn't imagine it being anything other than that.
I remember being so in awe of Joy's devotion. She was always burnin' up the rosary beads. She had a separate rosary for each family member and you can guarantee she would pray for you. She wasn't the type of person that said she would pray for you just to say the words. You could rest assured that she was praying for you and whatever was troubling you.
There is a part in our Mass where the priest says to the congregation, "Lift up your hearts," and we reply, "We lift them up to the Lord." Well, Joy's heart was beyond no doubt lifted up to the Lord during Mass. She wasn't ostentatious or flashy. It was just very visible that she truly believed that Mass is where heaven and earth meet. Her whole face was transformed. Every word she said, every action she did, it was with love for her Savior.
She always wore a large crucifix necklace. She was proud of her Catholic faith. Because of this, I chose her to be my confirmation sponsor. It was nice to know that as I was receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit I had a very holy woman standing behind me, praying that I made good use of these graces. (It took awhile, but I got there!) She also distributed the Body of Christ at my wedding. It was truly an honor for us that she was there to do that.
Joy was very holy. She did not waver in her orthodox beliefs of the Catholic Church. But what was so amazing about her was that she was not the "holier than thou" type. She did everything in the light of Christian charity. She did not condemn. She did not judge. She did not poke fun. She loved as Christ did. She had a happy faith. It wasn't all doom and gloom and hell fire for her. She saw the beauty of God's grace and the tremendous gifts he left us in the Church.
Her faith was child-like. And he said, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3) Joy accepted everything from God with faith. She looked to God with wonderment and awe. She truly saw him as a caring and loving Father who never abandons his children.
She was a kid at heart in everything she did. She was goofy. She was always smiling and laughing. She enjoyed Harry Potter and even went to the midnight release of the book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She had a little bit of fun-loving hippie funk in her. She definitely wasn't boring. She was truly full of life. Her name fit her perfectly because she just exuded joy.
Her first and foremost vocation in life was to be a faithful daughter of God. But right behind that was her vocation as wife and mother. She loved all her children fiercely. She made sure all their needs were met, even as they entered adulthood. She was truly caring.
But her marriage to her beloved Alan was truly something amazing. Talk about self-sacrificial love, well this couple has it. They put their love into action. Even though her health was starting to take a downward turn, she devoted herself to taking care of Alan when he was going through treatments for his lung cancer. She put his needs before her own. When Joy's health began to fail Alan in turn took care of his wife. When her mobility started to deteriorate, Alan was always there to help her around. Their love is a true example of what love really is. It is a choice. A choice to put your beloved before yourself. They both made sure the other one was happy before they met their own needs. Their marriage is a solid example of how God designed matrimony.
Their marriage was happy and fun. My Uncle Alan is known to be a bit of a goof ball. (OK, a huge goof ball) and Joy was a faithful wife who always laughed along. There was no eye rolling from her- just glee and a sparkle as Alan made the rest of us laugh. She and Alan always joked that no one knew Alan's name- they only knew Joy. Alan is simply known as "That guy with Joy." He even jokes that he will have that on his tombstone.
I know I mentioned this in a previous post, but Joy suffered a great deal these past two years. Arthritis had taken over her body. She first started out with a cane (which she named Horatio Caine after a favored CSI character. See, I told you she was funny!), then had to use a walker, and for the past year she has been in a wheelchair. I can't imagine the intense physical pain that she has gone through. But she never once complained. What hurt my Uncle Alan the most during this whole ordeal is how much suffering she has gone through when all she has ever done is love and serve others. The priest who came to anoint her before she died told my Uncle that the reason she suffers so much is because she CHOOSES to suffer with the crucified Savior. She has carried her cross in love to be united with Jesus. She chose this path. Someday when her children, grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews go to heaven they will see how much suffering they were spared in their life because Aunt Joy prayed so fervently for them and took on their suffering. She took on our suffering because she loves us so much. Joy is truly a saint.
I wonder if there was a deep spiritual battle going on while Joy was passing away. I can imagine the devil really wanted his greasy evil hands on her soul. But oh, my... I know there were multitudes of angels and saints just kicking the crap out of Satan and his minions. And Joy was right there, flaming sword and all, proclaiming her love of God.
Joy is happy now. She is so holy that I'm sure her toes just skimmed the fires of Purgatory and she is in eternal happiness. I mean, she is beyond words, so incredibly blissful. She is not suffering at all. She gets to walk and talk with family members that have gone before us. She gets to see colors that our eyes can't even comprehend. Her world is so beautiful and perfect. Absolutely perfect. All those countless hours she has run her hands across her rosary beads, well now she gets to hold her hand in our Blessed Mother's hand. She gets to embrace her living Savior. We have the Eucharist, which is pretty awesome, but she gets to see Christ in ALL his glory. So many times on this earth she has spoken, "Lord, Lord." but now she gets to hear from the lips of God, "Joy, welcome."
It is us, here on earth, the family and friends of Joy, who are the sad ones. We have a hole in our hearts. Life will not be the same without her smile and warmth. I sure hope I live a good life so I can someday get to heaven and be with Joy again.
But one thing is for sure.... I think some wonderful and amazing things will be happening in our lives because Joy is now in heaven praying for us. We are so blessed to have had her in our lives, but now even more blessed that we have our own saint in heaven looking down on us!
Thank you, Aunt Joy, for all you have done. You will be greatly missed. We love you so much.