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I told you a little about her yesterday, and today I am excited to tell you more about one of the most remarkable women I have ever known. Her name was Joy and she lived up to her name—and not because her life was easy. It was a challenge to be a single mother in the 1950s and 1960s, but when her husband died of heart disease leaving her with two very young sons to rear, she had to decide what to do next. Miss Joy chose to live with joy. I didn’t meet her until I was in my 50s. Local people had the joy of knowing her for decades. Bluegrass star Jamie Dailey grew up drinking lemonade on her front porch. He and Darren Vincent sang a song written for the occasion at her 100th birthday party. She passed away nine months later. I’m grateful I got the joy of knowing her as long as I did.

Yesterday I showed you my canvas collage, celebrating her life. I also included a link to a video of Miss Joy performing “Ragged Old Flag.” Some had trouble viewing the video, so let’s try this link and see if it works for you.

While writing yesterday’s post, I found this one from September 2013 when she was 97. Today I want to share it with you.

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I think the first time I saw Miss Joy was one of the many times she portrayed her ancestor at a local historic event. I’ve seen her perform many times since then. She is a regular at our local Veterans Day program each November. She dresses up as Uncle Sam and recites “Ragged Old Flag.” Each year Ray and I watch her perform at her annual birthday party. She recites poetry, sings to her own accompaniment on the keyboard, and tap dances.

Miss Joy lives up to her name. Last Sunday I saw her at her most joyful, because her two sons were with her at church. One of Miss Joy’s boys is a minister in Texas; the other works in the entertainment industry in California. They come several times each year and almost always at the same time. I know that means a lot to her, because as a mother of grown children, I know how much it means to me (and Ray, too) on those occasions when the children are here at the same time. On Sunday Miss Joy told me that she feels better when her sons are visiting. She’s told me that before.

I had heard the previous Wednesday that Mike and Tommy were coming. A friend of Miss Joy’s had explained that the reason she missed ladies’ Bible class that morning was that she was home cooking for her sons who would be in the next day.  On Sunday Miss Joy told me about the spinach balls, coconut pie, and creole okra she had made. She said that she had cooked one thing each day. Miss Joy was back in ladies’ Bible class this Wednesday. She told me more about her boys’ visit. They had taken her to get her hearing aids cleaned out and out to eat. At night they had played Scrabble. She shrugged her shoulders and talked about being lonely since they left.

Miss Joy is remarkable. Her husband died when her sons were very young. She worked as a hairdresser and later as a medical receptionist while the three of them lived with her mother and father. Today she lives alone in the home they all shared, a pretty white house with a wrap-around porch in the historic district of our little town.

Here’s a photo of Miss Joy singing and playing the keyboard at her party year before last. If you look closely, you’ll find her age on the blue balloon. She was 97. I’m looking forward to her next birthday party! The smiling lady in the back of the picture is Miss Jo. She graduated from high school with Mike and she is the friend who hosts Miss Joy’s party every year. I need to tell you about her sometime. She’s another inspiring woman.

On Wednesday mornings Miss Joy sits in our ladies class with her well-worn Bible in her lap. On Sunday mornings I hear her voice while we are singing praises. Miss Joy has shown the fruit of the Spirit in her life as she has walked with God for a long, long time–one faithful, joyful day at a time.

But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23a, NASB

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Today Miss Joy and Jo are enjoying their forever homes with their beloved Lord and Savior. I want to tell you one more story about Miss Joy. Between her 100th birthday and her death a few months later, her son Mike came home for a visit. They played Scrabble as usual. When she got her first seven letters, she stared and stared at them. Mike thought, “Oh, no. Our Scrabble playing days are over.” Then his mother took those seven letters and made a word– with all of them!

In all your teaching, remember to teach your children the joy of being joyful.

For You, Lord, have made me joyful by what You have done,
I will sing for joy over the works of Your hands.
Psalm 92:4


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