She was a little, hunched over, white-haired lady with sparkling eyes that missed nothing. Her wit was quick and dry, she loved to eat anything sweet and she loved animals! I thought she had a busy life for a 90 year old and was always coming and going, in taxis and community buses, to visit her daughter who was wheelchair bound, or to see the doctor or to have an outing with two of her other aging neighbours.
She lived in the unit across from me and we met before I had bought my unit. I loved her direct way with words – if she wanted to know something she asked. She was thrilled to see that I had my cat with me and was a strong supporter, that helped in my endeavour to first challenge and secondly change the pet keeping laws in our community. Her curtains were always open and she was a night owl, just like me. When the rest of the Units were quiet and dark, hers and mine were still brightly lit – her in her chair doing crosswords, me in my chair tapping at my laptop. Justifying our late hour with “Well, Mandy is still up, so it can’t be too late!!” or “Joan isn’t in bed yet, so I’m not the last!!”
Before I moved into my home, I renovated. She, as others, were keen to visit and see the changes. So I organised a little morning tea for her and her 2 mates to come and visit, have a cuppa and marvel at the changes. Marvel she did! She loved it and the very next day there was a knock on my door and there stood her son and grandson, saying they had been directed to come over and see my reno because THAT was what she wanted to have done to her place! The next week saw a steady stream of her relatives and tradesmen through my place. They chatted and measured and it was decided – it was to be done!
After, a stint in hospital for ill-health, she came home to a lovely fresh spacious home, that was beautiful to look at, light and warm to live in and much more spacious to move her walker around in. She had removed an internal wall, just like me and the only difference was, she went for the warmth of carpet when I went for wood. She was so happy and we smugly sat in our new homes together, chatting and feeling modern and may be a little superior!
She loved her Lord and wanted to go to church. She asked me to take her and I did – a couple of times. Others, also took her to their churches. She understood when my depression and anxiety flared, that it made it difficult for me to leave the house and was always encouraging and I know she prayed for me. She could sense when things were not so good for me and made her way across the drive with her walker, to visit me! She never made me feel guilty for not visiting her as much as I should but always loved it when I did.
We shared a love of fish and chip meals, reading, words, pets and British television drama. We were neighbours for just on 18 months but we clicked straight away despite our almost 40 year age difference. We liked one another a lot and life for me after moving into the community with all its personalities, would have been much less bearable without her.
Last night, after a week or so in hospital, she slipped away to be with her Lord. I am sad for my loss but thrilled for her release from pain. I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend her funeral, as I will be in New Zealand but I will be thinking of her and her loving family.
I have no photos – only the imprint she left on my heart.
I will miss her! I do miss her! She was my neighbour! She was my friend!
She was Joan!