My heart is broken. One of my favorite people is no longer on earth. I know that she is celebrating in heaven and no longer in pain; I rejoice in that fact, but I will miss her. I have had her on my mind for the past week or so and now I know why. I kept telling myself I needed to check on her but life kept getting in the way and now it is too late. I should have learned by now that when God brings someone to mind you should pray for them and check on them right away. I did pray but didn’t check on her. I have been kicking myself about that since I learned of her death. I also know, though, that Ms. Joyce would not want me to, as she believed in moving forward.
Joyce Matthews was like a mother to me at times. We met because she wrote a column — Todays and Yesterdays — for the paper I managed and we became instant friends. This feisty red-head was so wise, funny and caring. You couldn’t help but love her. She never had an unkind word to say about anything or anyone.
Her columns were uplifting as she offered encouragement, shared her wisdom and some of her adventures. As it became more technical with computers and email, it was challenging to her to try and work with today’s gadgets. We would talk about all the changes going on in the industry and she would tell me because I was younger, I could deal with it a lot easier. I told her she could learn it easily. “I just don’t know about all that” she said once.
Over the years we would talk about her adventures, especially with husband Richard. I could sit and listen all day as she talked about where they went, things they saw and what they did.
Joyce called me “her favorite Steel Magnolia” and she wrote that on a note to me once when she gave me three friendship angels. These still sit on a shelf in my bedroom with the note attached. She said I reminded her of the strong women in that movie. I didn’t think I was that strong but if Ms. Joyce said it, then it had to be true.
When my husband died in 2003, Ms. Joyce was there with words of encouragement. She had been there, losing her husband Leroy. She would also lose her husband Richard who was a musician. She helped me keep the right perspective and to keep moving forward and not drown in the sorrow.
During that time she gave me a devotional entitled “Joy for the Journey”. Inside she wrote: “May you always find joy in the journey”.
She was always upbeat and positive. She loved her family and was always telling me about an accomplishment of one of them and you could feel the love.
When David and I got married, she gave us a glass bluebird of happiness which sits in my dining room china cabinet.
She and Richard traveled a lot for him to perform his music, as long as he could. She was sad when he became bedridden and could no longer enjoy his music.
We used to have coffee together once in a while but those times became less and less once I left that paper. She could always find something to talk about with you and always asked what was going on with me and my family.
We did call each other from time to time but it has been a while. She was having lots of health issues but she never complained and even after telling me about those issues she would just laugh it off and say that it was just part of life.
She loved gardening and often shared things with me from her garden until I started growing my own at her encouragement. She told me gardening was therapeutic and there was something about putting your hands in the dirt. That was something my Granny always said so of course, they were right.
She also loved animals and there was always a couple of cats at her house. She would always apologize for the cat hair but I told her it didn’t matter. People would drop strays in the area where she lived from time to time, some Ms. Joyce had to nurse back to health.
Ms. Joyce loved her church, Hardison Baptist and was active there. Faith was something we talked about regularly when we would see each other for more than five minutes.
People always come into your life for reasons and Ms. Joyce came into mine to encourage me and remind me that everyone has a story to tell. She reminded me that good still exists in the world and that you have to keep moving forward no matter what you go through. When she especially liked a column I had written, she always let me know that she enjoyed it.
Ms. Joyce has left some wonderful memories for her children, grandchildren and the rest of her family. We can only hope that we leave our footprints behind when we leave this earth. Ms. Joyce definitely left hers and her loss will be felt by everyone who knew and loved her.
She has left the confines of earth, is no longer in pain, joined loved ones in heaven and gained her angel wings. She will not be forgotten. Love you Ms. Joyce. ©2017
VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org