Monday, September 21, 2009

Joan without you after 2 Years

Today marked two years since my mother departed for the heavens above. Although the period has marked a difficult period for me and most certainly my dad and siblings, I believe her passing was a direct result of my sister's passing in 2003. My mom never recovered from Janice's departure. Any mention or moment of recollection centering around Janice resulted in tears from my mother. She loved her so much and she just wasn't ever able to let her go. I realize its easy for me to make such a comment and there's so much more to this than the words I'm presenting, but I'm convinced her inability to let go of my sister triggered the cancer that took her life.

Now she's with Janice and surely more happy and content. Yesterday I visited her at Forest Lawn and I was touched how close, yet distant I felt to her. What a beautiful woman.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One Year has Passed - I Miss You More Than Ever

Today marks one year since my mother's passing. I don't view this as a milestone, rather a day of mourning. We all find ourselves being told a memorial service is a celebration and closure of the individual who has just passed; it wasn't. I still feel cheated that she isn't here to speak with me. Too many times this past year I went to pickup the phone to talk to my mom, and boom, reality would set in. But I have to share my experience of just three nights ago.

I was extremely tired his past Wednesday night. I have been working 6 days a week, ten to thirteen hours a day. So this given Wednesday, I had just finished working over 10 hours again, when I hit the bed. I was out instantly and I soon sank into a deep sleep although I felt like I was drifting. Then suddenly my mother came to life. We shared an entire day together. I remember saying, mom, I thought you were gone." She responded she was just visiting and wanted to enjoy her time. Interesting, it was just her and I. Nobody else appeared during these moments. We had a a fabulous day and then I awoke at 3:52 AM, ANGRY! I realized it was dream, that my moment was gone. I tried vehemently to go back to sleep to resume this moment of happiness, but it didn't come back.

I had to wonder why. This was the first time that I had dreamed about my mother. It was so "REAL" and yet so impossible. I do think she was trying to talk to me and for that I'm grateful, but I still feel we were all cheated because her work on earth was not done. I still needed her and moving forward isn't always easy. Time has not healed the wounds. I actually miss her more than ever because I can't speak to her except spiritually. That's probably why she visited me; to let me know she's watching all and encouraging me to move on.

I must now leave and go visit you [my mom] at your new and final home. I Love You Mom.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

JOAN'S Final and Last Stop

I doubt there's many of you who will view this posting, but for those who do I wanted to share my mom's final destination at Forest Lawn Mortuary in Cypress, California. The holiday season has been very lonely without having her apart of our family. We obviously miss her and as of now, time has not healed the grief.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

As we mentioned, this website has served its purpose and its time has come to go "Dark." On Friday, November 30th, 2007, this website will no longer exist, much like the events that caused this site to be created.

A day hasn't passed where I haven't thought about my mother; I truly miss her. Yet, if she's at peace and happy in God's Kingdom, I accept God's decision to take her from us. On behalf of my dad, sister, and brother, we thank you all.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

GOOD BYE - We'll Always Remember Mom

Today is one month since my mom's passing. I have visited her twice in Cypress where her remains lie interned amongst the Angels of God. Yet, the time has come to say publicly good-bye and turnoff this website in the near future. Originally, it was mentioned our intention was to leave this site active until the end of the year; however, time does heal the grieving and this site has performed its role to inform Joan's family and friends of her condition.

Therefore, this site will go dark on November 30th, 2007. To All of You, the Paul Family wishes you the very best.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

An Angel Joined Heaven on 9/21/07

10/3/07: For those of you who weren't able to attend the Celebration of Life Service last Saturday I've attached my eulogy to my Mom (and you can read Jeff's eloquent euology below mine here). Saturday was a gorgeous day and we sincerely appreciate the nearly 200 people who attended and shared love and support. For those who weren't at the service, you might like to know that a group of Mom's friends created hundreds of packets of bulbs which were given out after the service. Anyone who wished took them home & will plant them so that in the Spring when they bloom, we can be reminded of Joan and of her loveliness. There were Dutch Iris, Freesia & Daffodils and several will be planted at my parents home, as well as in a special place at the church. A few gardens in Wyoming will also be blessed with the blooms. God bless you all.... Andrea

From Saturday service on 9/28/07: I want to thank all of you for coming today. My Mom would surely be overwhelmed by the sight of so many amazing people, just as my Dad, brothers and myself have been overwhelmed by the phenomenal support and caring you have shown all of us. The cards, home-cooked meals, flowers, phone calls, e-mails, gifts and thoughtfulness you have shown us is really a testimony to the legacy of how much we all loved my Mom, Joan Paul.

There are 500 things I could say about how incredible my Mom was; her caring, creative, thoughtful, beautiful self. But I believe you already know this. I can tell you how deeply her passing will be felt – how the strongest stabilizing ties to my heart have been ripped from their foundation, shattering like a bomb into a million little pieces these last several months. But I believe you already know this. I can tell you how she was the glue that held me tight and I can tell you how she was “the rock” for so many of us; a rock of faith, friendship, support and love in the stormy seas of life. But I believe you already know this. Instead I will share with you memories of my Mom. I want to show you how she gave me 43 years of moments and how these moments have been precious gifts; pearls of wisdom and wonder on strands of love which I wear draped on my heart.

There is a pearl for honesty: when I was about 9 years old I remember going to a Der Weinerschnitzel (remember those?) with my Mom and while waiting in line for lunch, I spied something crumpled up on the ground. It looked like play money – like Monopoly money – so I squatted down under one of the tables and grabbed the crumpled bill. Turns out it was a $100 bill. Did my Mother pocket it and keep it for me? Did she save it for a rainy day? No, she closed it tightly in her hand and asked every person in line “Have you lost any money today? Please check your pockets.” One man reached into his pocket and said “I had a $100 bill in here. Have you found it?” Smiling, she handed it over. Needless to say, I wasn’t smiling. “It was never ours to keep” she explained, and I learned a priceless lesson about honesty that day.

There is a pearl for creativity: sometimes when Dad was at the fire station all night, Mom dreamed up this idea of “mystery dinners”. Matt, Jeff, Janice and I were each able to pick a scrap of paper out of a hat: you would either get main course, beverage, dessert or side dish. Then Mom would secretly plan a dish with each one of us, she would let us pick what we wanted and then we would make a shopping list and she would go into the grocery store separately, with each one of us, and buy whatever ingredients we needed. She didn’t stop us from feasting on teriyaki steak with baked potatoes loaded with sour cream & cheese, root beer floats for beverages and pie for dessert (or whatever else we each may have picked).

There is a pearl for compassion: one day when I was about fifteen and much too concerned with the color of my hair or the look of my clothes, Mom and I went to the grocery store. As we drove down a busy street in Lakewood, we passed a bedraggled man who was dirty, bleary-eyed, seemingly homeless and “scary-looking”. He had a sign propped next to him while begging for money: “Will work for food”. After getting everything on our shopping list, Mom drove over to Carl’s Jr. and bought a full meal for the man. Returning to the place where we had seen him, we pulled over and offered him the food. He was suspicious at first, but she simply smiled and said she hoped it tasted good, and as we drove away I saw him unwrap the burger and bite into it.

There is a pearl for selflessness: she came to every game and meeting, to every practice and performance. Her support and her belief in me was unquestionable and she took me to anything in which I expressed interest: Indian Maidens & Church Choir, Girl Scouts and Gymnastics, Brownies & Bobby Sox & Baton lessons. There were private swim lessons, painting lessons, hula classes and guitar lessons, reading programs at the library and Herbold’s Hustlers, a baseball training program attended mostly by boys, but which she insisted I could do also. There were horse-riding summer camps, English riding lessons, cheerleading camps and an AFS summer program to Central America.

She used to get up in the morning with me when I started running in 9th grade. At 6 AM she would follow me in the car, to make sure I was safe and to encourage me to go further. As I expanded my range of running, we would drive different “routes” later in the day and take the mileage so I could keep track. She sewed me outfits and costumes, stayed up wrapping Christmas presents until 2 a.m., helped me make kites or posters when I ran for student council, catch ladybugs and crush aluminum cans which Matt and I collected from neighbors trashcans on garbage. Please note these were neighbors in Long Beach, many years ago, and not our current Nipomo neighbors.

She worked part-time to help put me through college and was always at the house when I got home from school. Just last March she visited me in Jackson and stayed up until 2 A.M. with a packed bar of 20-somethings to hear me sing in a reggae band and to dance with my friends that had come out for the show. Can you imagine how she did all this not only for me, but for all of her kids?

She loved flowers and cats, children and hummingbirds, monarch butterflies and walks in the park. She loved dainty tea cups, family gatherings, morning light and giving to others. She excelled at scapbooking, quilting & stamping cards. She didn’t like T.V. or coffee, alcohol or dark places, dust or dirt, smoking or traffic. She loved, above all else, her family. She was faithful to God, even unto the end, despite her pain and suffering, despite the seeming unfairness of losing Janice in 2003 and the unjustness of Stage IV cancer, the seeming loss of dignity and the exhausting march to death at the too-young age of 68.

She soothed our fears and wiped our tears, was generous with her hugs and her time, smoothed things over and made everything better. In pondering her passing, I am reminded of the old question when looking at a glass half filled with water: “is the glass half empty or is the glass half full?” Is her death tragic, unfair and too soon? YES.

But did we have time to say what really mattered? Did we have time to show our love? Did my Mom realize, for the first time ever, how many lives she has touched and how deeply she was loved? YES.

And so I say to you today that my Mom is finally at peace. She was at peace with going. She said to me several times “We’ve had a good life”. She also said, “I just hope I’m worthy. Then I’ll get to see Janice”. Just like her to find the positive aspect in all of it. She was surrounded by family in the last days, all of us united in tender love, care, fear and confusion. To the very end, she knew we were there. She would want us all to celebrate. She would want us all to laugh, to smile, to live and to go on loving. I’d like to read something a friend recently sent that made a lot of sense to me.

"Do Not Stand At My Grave & Weep.....Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there; I do not sleep.I am a thousand winds that blow,I am the diamond glints on snow,I am the sun on ripened grain,I am the gentle autumn rain.When you awaken in the morning's hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circling flight. I am the soft starlight at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there; I did not die."

She lives on in all of us: in the warmth of the hugs we share, in the glint of a tear, in the hope of a smile and in the joy of the friendships and the love that we share. This is the gift she has left each one of us – may we hold it tight to our hearts. Amen… my dear mother … Amen

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Sunday, September 30, 2007


We said our Final Goodbye's to Joan M. Paul yesterday morning at Saint John's Church in Arroyo Grande, California. Mourners from as far east as the Mississippi River to as far north as the upper geograghies of Wyoming, along with a large local population attended Joan's memorial service, a "Celebration of her Life."

Joan's family wishes to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude for the support and care brought forward to our family before and since Joan's passing. The testimonials given to "mom" during the service were an affirmation to the inspirations she provided many of us. However, our mom is now at home.

We anticipate this website will remain active until December 31st, 2007. We are expecting to make a few additions here and there, mostly for our family members, but we welcome and invite Joan's friends to view. Joan's existing e-mail address will remain open and monitored for a moderate period of time before it is completely removed.

In closing, several mourners at yesterday's service asked upon me if they could have a copy of the service's opening eulogy. To oblige their requests, I have provided the text below:

Good Morning to my Family and Friends of Joan Marie Paul. . .known more importantly to me as my Mother! I’m Jeff, the oldest son. For those of you who’ve known my folks and heard them talk about their sons; kiddingly, I’ll tell you I’m not the pilot, I’m the other son!

I want to thank all of you for attending my mother’s memorial service. I knew a great deal of friends and family would be present today celebrating my mother’s life. She was a very special woman who touched and inspired many. But besides being a mother, a wife, a sister, a companion, a friend, she was a “GIVER.” She gave and gave and yet never expected someone else to give back in return. She repeatedly sacrificed herself to allow others to succeed. Her sacrifices were a gift that frequently went unnoticed and without the fanfare she deserved.

I’m biased, but I believe God’s template of a mom was my mom, Joan. Yet, my last two days with my mom before she left us and joined her first daughter Janice in the heavens of God’s Kingdom is what has become the memory enshrined upon me about my mom.

Two days before she departed, Pastor Randy joined my father and I in my parent’s bedroom where my mom was laboring in a deep sleep; her eyes firmly closed. Deep down, the three of us all knew she was close to passing on and we quietly discussed the inevitable transformation of her life and our own feelings of knowing my mom’s time was limited. Throughout our conversation, my mom’s breathing remained labored; so loud at times; we had to pause while she would exhale. At the end of conversation, Pastor Randy led my dad and I in a prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer. At its conclusion, Pastor Randy finished saying “Amen.” My father and then I followed in a whispered “Amen.” Suddenly, we heard an audible “Amen.” It was my mom displaying her faith while providing her inspiration to all three of us. She immediately returned to her labored breathing, her eyes remaining closed. She was definitely on cue, listening to everything we were saying, but incapable of participating. But she made sure she finished the prayer with us.

The next day, the day before she left us, I kneeled at my mom’s bedside several times holding her failing hand. I whispered into her ears how much I appreciated her efforts and all of the gifts she had given me for 48 years of my life. Throughout the whole day, she had said nothing audible in my presence. Still, I couldn’t stop repeating myself telling her how much I loved her and didn’t want her to leave, but I understood.

“Mom, everything will be fine. Don’t worry we’ll take care of dad. You’ve given us so much. Its okay to go if you have too.” THEN,

I felt a sense of pressure in my right palm and fingers. My mom was squeezing and then she said, “Than you;” the “k” in “thank” innocuously missing. I couldn’t resist wanting more, I immediately responded squeezing lightly back and I saw a facial smile form on her face. I was almost ecstatic. I then stood and raised my left cheek slightly over my mom’s mouth and asked her to kiss me. I watched as I saw her lips shape into a circle. I then lowered my cheek and she kissed me for the last time. I will never forget the moment. But it reminded me of my mom’s passion for family and love. Again, she was giving and the moment summarized the gifts she’s provided to all of us who’ve known her. She always gave her love to her family. Nothing was more important then family. NOTHING! I’m certain she’s very happy at this very moment watching over all of us knowing we’re together celebrating her gifts of giving, of sacrifice and Love. I love you mom and I’ll never forget what you’ve given me. You’ve made All of us better for the time we’ve had with you. God Bless.