Joanne-ee, Sycamore Road, and unwanted surprises…{Day 30}

I am thinking tonight about a house on Sycamore Road.
It started as little more than a shanty – a couple rooms, a bathroom. After 61 years of being lived in by what became a family of 9, it was a much bigger house…and a home.
It is on my mind tonight because 6 years ago at this time, I was in a hospital emergency room, not believing that the woman who made that house a home was gone.
If these old walls, if these old walls could speak
Of things that they remembered well
Stories and faces dearly held
A couple in love livin’ week to week
Rooms full of laughter
If these walls could speak*
When you are the only child of a single parent, extended family becomes especially important. Aunt Joanne, my mom’s older sister, always treated me like one of her own. She has a daughter 21 months older than me, a son one month younger, another son 4 years younger…great pals for a kid with no siblings.
The house has a yard big enough for football or baseball, and a hoop in the driveway, and a creek, AND they belonged to a club with a pool. Paradise.
If these old halls, if hallowed halls could talk
These would have a tale to tell
Of sun goin’ down and dinner bell
And children playing at hide and seek from floor to rafter
If these halls could speak*
Two specific memories that make me smile…
Driving to the pool, with Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” playing loudly, Amy hanging her head out singing even more loudly…and all of that being just fine. No scolding. No “get your head in here” warnings.
And meteor showers in August. We would get sleeping bags and stare at the sky, so excited to count shooting stars. Aunt Joanne was right there with us.
I had no idea what being an adult, a wife, a mom to seven kids meant. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, making ends meet, holding a part time job.
I had no idea what it meant for her to spend hours with us at the pool or looking at the stars.
I had no idea I would remember that forever.
Joanne Andreassi was one of the classiest, most attractive women I know. She always looked nice. Always.
She wasn’t perfect. Sometimes things she said would have been better as just thoughts. She could be stubborn.
But her heart was golden. And her faith was steadfast and strong.
I had no idea it was making such an impact on me.
She was funny. And she had a wonderful laugh.
She loved her kids. She loved her husband…and, oh my, did he love her! They truly enjoyed each other’s company – still do, I’m sure.
She was supportive of my uncle while he built a gas and oil company, worked a second job in the evening, answered customer calls at all hours – once on Christmas Day. They made a great team and were blessed to enjoy the fruit of those labors and sacrifices when they were retired.
If these old fashioned window panes were eyes
I guess they would have seen it all
Each little tear and sigh and footfall
And every dream that we came to seek or followed after
If these walls could speak*
I had no idea on Oct 30, 2007, my sleep would be delayed by a phone call at 11 PM saying I needed to get my mom and go to the hospital.
Aunt Joanne’s oldest daughter and I are also very close. Her voice was tight, very deliberate. Just as I about to hang up, she said words I didn’t want to here: “She’s already gone.”
If I close my eyes right now, I can see her in the kitchen,  or at the end of the dinner table in her spot…I can hear her talking about soap operas or fussing about ladybugs invading her house or cheering for her kids and grandkids at a football or basketball game…I remember her laughing with Mom and their other sister and brother…
I had just seen her at a football game a couple weeks before.
I had no idea it would be the last time I would see her on this side.
I had no idea I would miss the chance to ever tell her these things.
Six years later, Joanne-ee, and you are still loved and missed like it was yesterday.
Rest well. See you again.
They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay
Here’s someone who really loves you
Don’t ever go away
That’s what these walls would say*
Do you need to share thoughtful words with someone before you can’t?
Think about it.
We will talk again tomorrow.

*words and music by Jimmy Webb

I’m participating with The Nester in 31 Days of Examining My Heart.
This is Day 30.
You can find all 31 Dayers here. There are so many wonderful topics.
If you miss any days in the series, you can find the introduction and each day’s post here.

Beth Painter is a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.

Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life!