Archive for the ‘Joey (Nan)’ Category

I Remember.

January 15, 2007

I remember, maybe first of all, my grandmother’s voice. She would make cassette tapes narrating a book of photos for me as a little kid, and even though we lived thousands of miles away in a different country, through the tapes I got to know her voice.

I remember that she always made me feel special – very, very special. I remember the feeling that she lived for me. When I got older – much older – I realized that this was part of what she brought to the world: she made people feel very special. It was the warmth of her intense, embracing love.

I remembering watching her start a book company with my grandfather, while they were building a house together. There was never any question if something was possible; the world was available to you – for you to pursue your dreams. She was fierce in her love – and fierce in her achievements.

And of course I remember her wheelchair. The amazing thing is that for a woman who spent 52 years in a wheelchair, I never thought of her as constrained in any way. She taught me about how accessible the world was: anything I put my mind to, I can realize.

When I was in college, she sent me a porcelain figure of a grandmother angel. She threatened to cause some serious trouble unless I placed it some place where she could “watch” me. I’ve carried it with me for ten years, always careful to place some place where she can watch me.

I just loved her so much. The fierce way she loved me – it feels like a fire I can have, a fire of love I can have for others, if I cultivate and encourage it.

She was the most powerful person I have ever known, and it was a power fueled by sheer determination and will – and by a deep, intimate love.

She died in her sleep the morning of December 3, 2006, and I’ve thought about her every day since she died. I know she’s up there praying for me, whispering encouragement in my ears.

For Aunt Joey

December 29, 2006

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.

Note from Vivian

December 9, 2006

My grandmother, Josephine Davidson, passed away a week ago – her obituary is here, and a photo slideshow is here. Her good friend Vivian Chapman is 90 and lives down the street; Vivian asked me to publish her rememberances on my blog:

Joey was a profound influence in my adjusting to life in the Northwest, as well as widowhood one year after moving here. She invited me to a prayer and study group which met weekly at her home. She also included me in many family affairs. I was to learn that being wheelchair bound didn’t hinder this vivacious woman from accomplishing whatever she set out to do. In one of our special bonding of friendship periods she told me how the general public dismissed the abilities of one in a wheel chair. Well – they had no idea of the bundle of energy they were challenging.

She had been teaching school before she became a victim of Polio. On her efforts to return she found California had a law preventing it. She then spent two years serving as teacher’s assistant without monetary reward to prove that being on wheels did not effect her mental and professional abilities. She was soon re-instated. That is dedication.

Another incident that caused us all to stand up and take notice of this little woman’s abilities to get things done, regardless of opposition, was her picture in the Bellingham Reporter sitting at the entrance of City Hall. Here she sat and the only entrance to the building was a revolving door. It wasn’t long ’till a push button door was installed. She was also instrumental in the installation of ramps at all public sidewalk corners, also for large stalls with grab bars for using public wash rooms and toilets.

She didn’t seek credit for these improvements, just results. I could go on and on – but so could all who knew her If she had any human faults they were so lost in her Christian Charity, none could be found. She was a treasured gift to all who knew her.

Photos of my Grandmother

December 6, 2006

It’s a bit nuts the last 48 hours; 40+ relatives flying in from multiple continents, and I’m co-ordinating food, lodging, and transportation, as well as all visual elements of the funeral (photo slideshow, program, mass card). On top of keeping some work projects running. I’m exhausted. I’ve uploaded all of the photos we’re using in the slideshow to my flickr feed so that family and friends who can’t make it can still see it: Joey Davidson, 1923-2006. I think my two favorites are (1) Nan with her father, Wallace McPhee, my great-grandfather and (2) when she won Polio Mother of the Year from the March of Dimes in 1957. The little girl in the photo is my mother, and the dog’s name is Bill.

Josephine “Joey” Davidson

December 5, 2006

Joey DavidsonJosephine “Joey” Davidson died in her sleep the morning of December 3, 2006, after spending the previous day with four generations of family members.

Joey was born in Brooklyn, New York, February 13, 1923, the fifth of six siblings, and moved to Santa Rosa, California, as an infant. She graduated from Ursuline High School in Santa Rosa and then from the University of California at Berkeley. At Cal she met her roommate’s brother, Peter, whom she married in 1947.

An educator, author and columnist, Joey lived in Illinois, the Middle East, New York, California and Texas before moving to Bellingham in 1988. Joey, who contracted polio in 1954, spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. When she wished to return to the classroom in the 1960s, she discovered that it was illegal in the state of California for people with disabilities to teach. She persisted and taught for 23 years in Catholic schools in California and Texas.

After she retired, Joey wrote a bestselling middle-school resource book, Teaching and Dramatizing Greek Myths. She eventually founded her own publishing company, and wrote three more school texts, most notably The Middle School Debater. She worked with friends at her church to compile and publish a large print hymnal and co-authored with Phyllis Shelley Jesus and People with Disabilities.

Joey wrote a column for The Bellingham Herald for a number of years. In her column, she continued to educate and advocate on behalf of people with disabilities. She also served on city and county advisory panels and commissions and helped with the design of public parks and recreational facilities to ensure that they are accessible, comfortable and usable for people with disabilities.

Survivors are her husband of 59 years, Peter D. Davidson; son James, his spouse Tamara, their children Jesse, Sarah and Tony; and daughter, Mary H. Mele, her spouse Nicholas, their children Nicco and his spouse Morra, and Peter, his spouse Barbara and their daughter Sophia Josephine. Her brother John McPhee of Moraga, California; her sister, Virginia Shea of Santa Rosa, California; and sister-in-law Helene Jacoby of Boise, Idaho, and their families, also mourn for Joey.

There will be a vigil for Joey at Moles Funeral Home on Lakeway Avenue in Bellingham, Washington State from 7 pm Wednesday, December 6; her funeral will be at Assumption Catholic Church at 10:30 am Thursday, December 7.

Joey expressed a wish that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Interfaith Coalition, 2401 Cornwall Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225.

This obituary appeared in the Bellingham Herald, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and on the Moles Family Funeral Home website.

Nan, My Beloved Grandmother

December 3, 2006

This Sunday, Dec. 3rd, my grandmother, Josephine Davidson, passed away in Bellingham, Washington State. I’m headed out there tomorrow to be with my family. I loved her very, very much and I’m going to miss her. I was at Mass today exactly when she died; she must have known. I’ll write a longer post about her shortly – it’s late, and I’ve been running around trying to get everything done since I’m going to be away for a week unexpectedly. She is survived by my grandfather, her partner of more than 59 years, and by her two children, my mother and my uncle. I’m the oldest grandchild and I have so many fond memories of her… well, now I’m crying, and I need to go to bed. Got an early flight to catch. I love you, Nan.