My Joy-Joy

Sunday night I lost a piece of my heart. My Aunt Ca, my Godmother, my support … our “Joy-Joy.”

When my daughter Ellia was a baby, Aunt Ca would sing Ren and Stimpy’s ”Happy Happy, Joy Joy" and Ellia would throw up her hands and dance. She did this so often that when Ellia was able to talk she called Aunt Ca "Joy-Joy." Aunt Ca accepted the name with honors and this became her name to all the little ones.

Aunt Ca and my Grandmother lived with my father for all of my life. When my Dad would pick me up on Fridays I would give Grandma a kiss and run right into Aunt Carol's room. That’s where all of the nieces and nephews went. She was a habitual kid. All of us loved her for it. We shared the same sense of fun and she spoiled the heck out of us.

Her life was not easy. Aunt Ca was born was Cerebral Palsy in her legs which limited her movement. She was sharp in the mind and quick with wit. Aunt Ca was smarter than all of us. She even skipped two grades! 

Later in life her battle with her health became more difficult. On an emergency visit to the hospital the nurse questioned her, “do you have any children?” Aunt Ca pointed beside her and said, “they are all my children.” Us nieces and nephews meant the world to her and our children meant even more.

Her discomfort and limited movement was not a factor when it came to her kids. She was there for every important moment in our lives.

She is so much part of my life. More than I even realized until I looked back. 

I remember giving her the same murderous screams that I gave my Mom as Aunt Ca knelt over the bathtub to wash my hair as a kid. She had trouble standing and this brat made her work to wash my down-to-my-butt mane.

She gave me my chickenpox scar on my forehead while brushing my hair. One which I now wear proudly.

She saved every drawing that I ever made for her. Every. Single. One. On napkins, tears from coloring book pages, scribbles. … And not just that, she took them out to show people all of my life.

4 1/2 years ago after my Dad passed, she supported me. She was there for most of my times with Dad sharing moments. She knew just how close we were.

Just two weeks ago while visiting her in the hospital I bowed my head in guilt as I told her it was time to remove my Dad’s paperwork from the hall closet to the attic. She said all but two words, “I understand.” Just like that it was OK. She had this way to calm the nonsense in my head like no other.

Never did I think I would lose Aunt Ca, too.

THIS is going to be a hard one.

So much of what I do is because of you, Aunt Ca. You have had a profound impact on my life. I will not be the same without you.

I have to remind myself that she truly is in a much better place now … running and laughing with her father and mine. I do not know a kinder soul more worthy of heaven. 

I never did leave her without saying “I love you” and she would always have to be the last to say it back.

“I love you. Give the kids a kiss.”