For Aunt Joey

Martina Austin is the wife of Paul Austin, my grandmother’s nephew. Martina sent me this remembrance about Joey:

It is three weeks to the day since Aunt Joey passed on and two-and-half weeks since Paul and I had the honor to stand with our family at Assumption Catholic Church in Bellingham to celebrate her life and mourn her passing.

Aunt Joey was an extraordinary woman who took on the many challenges in her life with common sense, spunk, and grace, and with the steadfast assistance and devotion of her husband, our Uncle Peter. They lived busy lives as professionals, participants in their church and communities, and parents, not only to Mary Helene and Jim, but to other children who sojourned under Peter and Joey’s roof. I stand in profound admiration of them both.

As we drove to the services at Assumption Church, I was struck by the winter landscape. Browns and grays, the silhouettes of trees standing before quietly clouded skies. Nature’s work is done, and the year is coming to a close, I thought. It’s going underground to be able to come forth again as spring when the sun grows stronger and the skies clear.

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
Shine through chinks in the barn, moving
Up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the crickets take up chafing
As a woman takes up her needles
And her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
In long grass. Let the stars appear
And the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
Go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
In the oats, to air in the lung
Let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
Be afraid. God does not leave us
Comfortless, so let evening come.

–Jane Kenyon

Aunt Joey accomplished so very much personally, and as a mother, wife, citizen. She and Uncle Peter raised Jim and Mary Helene to be thoughtful people who live meaningful lives and who have, in turn, raised their children – Jesse, Sarah, Tony; Nicco and Peter – to do the same; they are making a difference in our world. Aunt Joey surely sighed many times over a job magnificently done.

I am thankful for our visits with Aunt Joey and Uncle Peter, first at Pollock Pines, and then in Bellingham. We talked of so many things – raising children, religion, and ethics mixed in with cooking, movies, stories, and playing Monopoly. She always listened, really listened, and always encouraged each of us – Paul, James, Meridian, and me – in what we were doing.

So the year passes into the next, and Aunt Joey passed from this life into the next, into the fullness of God which she so fervently sought. Bless her soul.

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