"Don't cry, Jane, we've been through worse."

Labor Day was late that year.  So on a sunny Thursday three years ago Joan hopped into her car with a list.  The usual errands (post office; recycling) and some extras, a school entrance interview for her grandson Leo and for herself, a doctor's visit. (Before she'd moved her doctor'd said, "Joan, when you get to Virginia, find yourself a smart young internist.)  She arrived on time, leaving 14 year old Leo in the car to amuse his cousin, 15 month old  Owen. 90 minutes later Joan left in aambulance, with a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer and ten days to live.

Long before she was a grandmother she was just "Joannie from Pringle".   A cheerleader with lots of boyfriends.  They called her 'Kid Dictionary' because she was smart.  Joan graduated high school at 16 and had 4 kids in 7 years.  A more resilient woman you could not find. She faced everything life threw at her--and it threw a lot--with grace and grit.   

At the hospital she said, "Please don't make a fuss or bring me anything.  .Just tell folk to do something nice for somebody else, & then tell me about it."  So her family sent out a call, "Mum LOVES to get mail and she lives to help others.  Would you please do something nice for someone this week.  Buy them a coffee.  Send a check to a charity.  Bring home flowers.  Any little thing to bring someone joy or take care of a need. (If they ask why, you can tell them "Joannie from Pringle" sent you.)  Then tell her what you did.  She'd get SUCH a kick out of it. "

And tell her they did.  Before she died,  good deeds in honor of "Joannie from Pringle" spanned 50 states and all 7 continents, even Antarctica!  Those stories kept her going, kept her going almost 600 days past her initial 10 day prognosis.

Years earlier her grandson was born ill, nearly died.  Like Joan, Leo defied expectations.  Doctors say such babies who don't die are the strongest.  Survivors.  Resilie
nt. They can go on to survive anything.

So it was with Miss "Joan
nie from Pringle". 

Joan overcame obstacles.  Absorbed blows.  Transcended heartbreak, tragedy.  Cast a steady, white glow with her unrelenting focus on all that was good, and beautiful, and possible in the world.  Joan survived and went on to touch us all.  As set out in the Caring Bridge site.(read the Jour
nal history).   And in obscure gestures whose impact we'll never know.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Joan made dying seem like a party you wish you'd been invited to.  "Don't cry" she told  her daughter Jane on her deathbed,  "We've been through worse."

Describing Joan's attitude her family quipped, "In Joannie's World people wake up singing and the cocoa is made from scratch." And isn't that the hallmark of Resilience?  Attitude.  Perspective.  The ability to look beyond ourselves. To put one foot in front of the other, somehow.  To know that Life is Short and that's okay. 

Joan  was here.  Now she's gone. But we're still here.  Let's make the most of it.  And if you're feeling overwhelmed?  Struggling?  Find someone who needs help.  Some thing that needs to be done. Do it.  Tell them Joannie from Pringle sent you.

Joannie from Pringle is on Facebook
For more inspiring stories or to read about the Good Deeds see Caring  Bridge


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