ForeverMissed

Please click on 'Gallery' to see pictures of Joan, view a video of her life and hear the audio recording of her memorial service. Click the 'Life' tab to read insights shared by family members.

Joan Fleming Anders, age 92 of San Mateo, CA died peacefully on March 1, 2019 after a brave and gracious 7-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Joan was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on August 6, 1926 to W. Ivan Fleming and Mary Middleton Fleming. Joan graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1947 with B.S. in Nutrition. She was a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and maintained lifelong friendships with several of her sorority sisters.

On February 12, 1954 Joan attended a dance at the YMCA in Champaign-Urbana IL, where she met her future husband, Edward Anders. On November 12, 1955, they married, embarking on a beautiful and enduring love story. Chicago was home for Joan and Ed until his retirement in 1991 when they moved to Bern, Switzerland, and then to California. Joan’s career focused on prenatal and infant nutrition and included 6 years lecturing at Loyola University. In retirement Joan was an active contributor to the International Club of Bern and the American Women’s Club of Bern, sharing her expertise in nutrition. Joan was the steady, quiet partner in Ed’s career, providing vital support that contributed to his success.

Joan’s life was filled with the things she loved – learning (particularly history, art and languages), travel, classical music, opera, creating wonderful meals for family and friends, and caring for her family. In retirement she published two scholarly books on her family’s history. As a daughter, friend, sister, wife, mother and grandmother, Joan shared her calm and gentle personality through her warmth, compassion, love, positive outlook and unshakeable patience. She not only treated everyone with kindness and respect but had a unique gift for making others feel welcomed and special.

Joan is survived by the love of her life, her devoted, adoring best friend and husband of 63 years Edward Anders. She is also survived by a son, George (Betsy Corcoran) Anders, a daughter Nanci (Anders) Schiman, grandchildren Matthew and Peter Anders, Sara, Amy and Leah Schiman and her brother Bob (Cynthia) Fleming, niece Vicki (Fleming) Reid and nephews Bill, John and Tom Fleming.

A special thank you to the staff of the Stratford Assisted Living, Mission Hospice and Total Care Services for their kind and compassionate care.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, 34 Washington Street, Suite 310, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481 https://curealz.org/outreach/in-memory/joan-fleming-anders/

A memorial celebration of Joan’s life was held on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the Stratford. 

Posted by Angela Sweeny Moss on March 18, 2019
On behalf of the Charlie and Barbara Sweeny family, I send our sincerest condolences on the loss of your wonderful Joan. She was a unique soul, and Barbara was blessed to have begun a special friendship with Joan over 60 years ago when they shared a maternity room and excitedly awaited the births of each of their sons. I just shared with my father Charlie about Joan's passing, and the first thing he said was, "What a beautiful woman. A noble bearing." May joyful memories carry the burden of your sorrow.

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Posted by Angela Sweeny Moss on March 18, 2019
On behalf of the Charlie and Barbara Sweeny family, I send our sincerest condolences on the loss of your wonderful Joan. She was a unique soul, and Barbara was blessed to have begun a special friendship with Joan over 60 years ago when they shared a maternity room and excitedly awaited the births of each of their sons. I just shared with my father Charlie about Joan's passing, and the first thing he said was, "What a beautiful woman. A noble bearing." May joyful memories carry the burden of your sorrow.
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George (son) reflections of Joan

Joan left us an amazing strongbox of memories, and I’d like to share a few. They may seem random at first – but there’s a common thread that holds them together.

From early childhood, I remember being a tiny boy too tired to climb the stairs into our apartment. We had just finished a trip to the supermarket, so Joan was carrying groceries. She gracefully swept up Nanci and me, nestling us next to the grocery bags and carrying everything in one trip. That feeling of safety and adventure – all at once – lasts a lifetime.

From teenage years, I recall getting home from swim practice, ravenously hungry – and being greeted by a home-cooked mountain of turkey and potato curry. I do believe it was a family recipe, passed down from some of our more adventurous Scottish forebears. In any event, Joan’s curry was delicious. It filled me up without wrecking the Anders family food budget. Being on the swim team was not a total success, but those hearty meals helped me stick out the season.

In my late 20s, Joan took me aside at some point and whispered: “You’ve gotten so much better at remembering people’s birthdays, now that you’ve met Betsy!” Joan was so very, very good at that sort of signaling. No harsh words about past mistakes. But some unmistakable nudges toward better conduct. And lots of subtle wit along the way. She could say a lot in very few words.

More recently, who else but Joan could tell me: “Children most need love when they are the least lovable?” It’s an insight that points in both directions. I’m grateful for it.

What keeps coming back is the sweet, gentle way that spending time with Joan made all of us feel. She protected us children when we were little. She reassured us as we got older. No matter what thrills or turmoil occurred in our lives, a chat with Joan was the best way of getting my bearings again.

All her life, Joan collected people’s stories. When I was little, she’d settle into an old-fashioned pantry after dinner, where we had a rotary phone installed. She’d chat with her Canadian friends or relatives, and come out all excited about whatever Murray, Gert, Margaret or other people were up to. I could never keep the cast of characters straight. But unwittingly, Joan was modeling what’s become a 40-year career for me.

People often ask how I ended up in journalism and book-writing, focusing so much on people’s stories. The truth is, Joan unknowingly pointed me in that direction before I was 10.

In recent weeks, we’ve been getting wonderful cards and emails from Joan’s friends around the world, sharing memories of her. People from Chicago circles have shared vivid accounts of Joan’s dinnertime hospitality. The roast duck! The French wines and the home-baked, Viennese-style cakes. Not to mention the conversations about opera and the life of the mind. Dinner with Joan & Ed was academic life at its best, and we all enjoyed the show.

Other people remember how much Joan helped them settle into Chicago, as they arrived jetlagged and a bit bewildered from Japan, Belgium or other faraway homes. Joan made the stress go away. Her little touches ranged from stocking their refrigerators to these hour-long driving tours of all the parts of Chicago they’d need to know.

We’ve got a scrapbook that includes many of those letters, some of which are deliciously funny. In closing, I’d like to borrow a few lines from Kim Hays, who was part of a German-language study group with Joan in the 1990s. As Kim put it: “How could anyone spend five minutes in Joan’s company and not want to be her friend? She combined a gentle warmth with a firmness of purpose that made me want her respect. Joan was SOMEBODY but not in an intimidating way. In that little German class, she was a kindred spirit.”

Nanci's (daughter) Memories of Mom at Joan's Memorial Service)

MEMORIES OF MOM – March 23, 2019

Growing up in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago in the 60’s our family was the epitome of routine. No surprise to those of you who know my dad. We had one car, first a 1963 Buick Special and then a 1973 Volvo which came to be dubbed ‘the lemon’. Each morning my mom drove my dad to work and then picked him up promptly at 5:00 pm. There were two reasons for this. First, it enabled my mom to have use of the car during the day. Second, and perhaps more importantly, was an issue of safety. Both ours and the good people on the streets of Hyde Park. Dad was, shall we say, a ‘unique’ driver. He recently acknowledging that ‘I paid attention to the roads until something more important came to mind.’ This usually happened about two minutes after getting behind the wheel when Dad’s research and goals for the day took over.

When we were small, George and I came with Mom for those evening pick-ups. Always arriving promptly at 5, Dad might emerge moments later, briefcase in hand. Or we might wait. And wait. Mom never, ever complained. She not only accepted, but also loved this quality in her husband, explained to us that Dad’s work was important and greeting him with an empathetic ‘Oh, dear, you must have had a grueling day’ when he finally emerged. While we waited, we listened to the news on the radio which included Paul Harvey’s ‘The rest of the story’. Some of you probably remember that radio icon of a bygone era. Millenials, just Google it. But not now.

Some of you have known Mom for most or all of your lives. Others of you met our parents when they came to California or moved to the Stratford. Each of us knows Mom in different ways, like pieces of an intricate mosaic. Beautiful alone. Breathtaking when seen all together. My hope is that what we share today will give each of you a chance to see that mosaic closer to its entirety. I have chosen to share Joan the mother and to attempt to do justice for my dad in sharing Joan and Ed’s love story. So, in the spirit of Paul Harvey, here is my nod to ‘The Rest of the Story’.

Mom was quietly, confidently, fiercely independent, taking her time in finding her soulmate. Her slightly younger brother Bob, married at age 21, lovingly referred to Mom as his ‘old maid sister’. I think Mom was secretly proud of that title because she knew that it was so worth the wait. Around the time that Bob was getting married, mom was hopping a boat to England with her ‘partner in crime’ Annabelle Heintzman. I grew up loving the ‘Annabelle’ stories because these showed a side of mom that I rarely saw (or noticed). Spunky, adventuresome, impish. One of my favorites is included in my mom’s autobiography:

(Read by AMY):In November 1949 Annabelle and I boarded a Canadian Pacific ship in Montreal and sailed for Liverpool, England. Most of the passengers were what we considered “elderly.” However, in first class there were several relatively young British senior military officers. They came down to tourist class to “look over” the passengers. Since Annabelle and I were the only young women they frequently invited us up to First Class for tea or the evening entertainment. When the sea became rough, they insisted that staying in our cabins or going to bed was fatal. So in November in the stormy, cold North Atlantic weather, they walked us round and round the deck as the ship went up and down, up and down with the waves. Neither of us suffered from seasickness. One of the officers had bought a negligee and nightgown for his wife and knew the duty would be very steep. He asked us if we would put it in our luggage, take it through customs and mail it to him after we arrived in London. Of course we agreed but couldn’t resist modeling his gift. We decided he had very good taste.

It is impossible to talk about Mom without talking about Dad and the love story we have all had the honor of witnessing. Over the past 65 years my parents have been like a Venn diagram, steadily converging until they were almost a single circle. They never lost sight of their own identities, they just knew that together was the way they wanted to be. Together brought out the best in each of them. Together was, and is, magical.

Fast forward to January 1954 and Mom had taken a job in Champaign-Urbana, IL following her parents and brother Bob’s migration to the US. Illinois is known as ‘The Land of Lincoln’ and so Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12th was and is a big deal. My parents, both new in town made one of the best decisions of their lives by deciding to attend a dance at the YMCA. The rest is history. My mom writes:

Read by AMY: ‘On arrival I was immediately approached by a young man who introduced himself as Edward Alperovitch. He was the most interesting person I had met since I returned from England. He wrote my name and phone number in his “little black book,” and I hoped I would hear from him. He still has that book and not too long ago showed me he had written my name in capital letters, whereas three other girls he met at that dance merited only lower case.'

My dad thankfully, is a meticulous saver of memorabilia, and about 2 years ago I discovered a treasure trove of letters and cards from the very beginning of my parents’ courtship and continuing for many years. My daughter Sara, with help from her fiancé Greg, lovingly organized these into two large scrapbooks which are on the table. I had forgotten how beautiful the art form of letter writing is, particularly in capturing the essence of such a deep, enduring love. In the weeks prior to their wedding, Ed had started his job at the University of Chicago and was busily getting their apartment furnished and set up for their new life together.

Read by SARA: Nov. 4, 1955: (8 days before their wedding)“My dearest Ed: . . . Just 8 more days after today. How are the jitters? So far, I haven’t had an attack, just wish the 8 days would fly by.”

Read by GREG: Nov. 8, 1955: “My dearest Joan: I hope you arrived alright and were not too exhausted for the busy week ahead of you. This is the week when I am supposed to ask myself ‘why in the _____ I’m going through all this’. Thus far, however, I have not found it necessary to raise this question”.

Clearly my parents had a very strong foundation upon which to build the next 63 years. And then, the children arrived. In 1960 Ed was working at NASA for over a month. Mom, George and I were living in Pasadena, CA where Dad was a visiting professor. Their exchange of letters was an important part of their daily routine.

SARA: April 12, 1960: Dearest Ed: It was so nice to hear your voice and it won’t be long before you are home again. We went shopping this morning – bought a new replacement part for the toilet so it now works again. They had a live monkey in a cage in the store and both children enjoyed it. Then we had to go and buy a replacement shade for one of the little windows in Georgie’s room. I forgot to put it up one afternoon when he had his nap and it was in shreds by the time he got up. . . . Just two more evenings. It will be so good to have you home. Much, much love, Joan. Georgie and Nancy send love too and big wet kisses.”

GREG: April 16, 1960: “My dearest Joan: You sounded so tired on the telephone that I simply do not have words to tell you how sorry I feel for you. I wish I could come over at once and relieve you. I shall be away only 6 more nights, and by the time you get this letter, there will be only 4 nights left. If you could only sleep through one night you would feel better. Of all times for Nancy to be teething. I shall be thinking of you even more often now.”

SARA: April 17, 1960: “Dearest Ed: The little people are sound asleep in bed so now I can write you a little note. Little Georgie saw you go and was rather upset. He kept saying ‘Daddy – suitcase, Daddy – suitcase’. . . I hope you had a good trip and were not too tired when you arrived in Washington. Do take care of yourself and I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you tomorrow night. Much, much love from us all and a big kiss, Joan”

GREG: April 17, 1960: “Dearest Darling: My spirits and my enjoyment of life have improved greatly since I talked to you. I am so very glad you are feeling better. The children are exhausting in the best of times and without sleep one can become a wreck in no time. . . . I shall be thinking about you all the time and hope that Nancy will sleep through the night. I am looking forward to receiving your letter. Much, much love, Ed.”

I’m embarrassed to admit that growing up I didn’t appreciate or fully recognize the depth of my mom and dad’s devotion. Now I know differently and am grateful that I remember the connections even though I didn’t realize the significance at the time.

Sara and Greg will be getting married on New Year’s Eve and I have been encouraging them to jump on the hashtag bandwagon with a clever wordplay of their names. They have opted for simplicity (and boredom) with #GregandSara. So I will follow suit as we take a look at ‘A day in the life of #EdandJoan’.

  • Seamless daily routines that started with a well-timed collaboration of making and then enjoying breakfast together.
  • Daily lunch time phone calls to catch up on each other’s day. My dad would eat lunch at his desk (made of course by mom, wrapped in re-used wax paper and packed in a brown bag that had made many trips back and forth in my dad’s briefcase. His call might come at noon, 12:20 or 1:00, depending on the day. Mom planned her schedule around those calls and they rarely missed their virtual lunch date.
  • No matter what time Dad was done with work, Mom had the magical ability to have a delicious, home cooked dinner on the table within minutes of getting home. She would get dinner almost ready before she left so that Dad wouldn’t have to wait when he got home. Yet dinner was never overdone or burnt. Dinner was also very well balanced nutritionally and George and I were educated early on about the 4 basic food groups. Mom’s career in Nutrition played an important role in our home.
  • Dinners were long and leisurely (for Mom and Dad, not so much for me and George) where conversations never lagged. I marveled that despite having debriefed at noon, my parents never ran out of things to talk about. We each had a turn to share about our day and then Mom and Dad talked science, politics, topics of substance and depth. They analyzed and rated the aroma, body, ‘legs’ and palate of one of the 800+ bottles of wine stored in their walk-in wine vault in their bedroom.
  • After dinner Mom cleaned up the kitchen and then she and Dad had ‘rest time’ where they stretched out on their respective couches and listened to classical music. This was sacred time and even as very small children we knew not to disturb our parents. Of course we did on occasion get into some interesting (and messy) activities thanks to our creative imaginations.
  • Later in the evening, after ‘play time’ with me and George, Dad turned his focus to work, writing papers, talks, or preparing lectures for his freshman Chemistry students. Mom got us ready for bed and tucked us in. I have beautifully vivid memories of Mom singing to me, rubbing my back until I drifted off to sleep.
  • At 10:00 Mom brought in a large tray of fresh fruit and she and my dad had their bedtime snack in the living room while listening to the news on the radio.
  • Mom and dad were always frugal, never cheap. Saturdays were ‘haircut’ days with my parents cheerfully playing barber for each other. These continued even after the time when my mom forgot to attach the guard to the clippers and accidentally gave my dad a ‘buzz cut’ straight up the back of his head. If that isn’t trust and forgiveness, I don’t know what is.

While Mom may have seemed like the epitome of a 1960’s housewife, she was anything but. She supported Dad in every way with the goal of making his life easier. She did this with ‘compersion’ – she experienced a genuine joy from facilitating happiness in others, particularly Dad, me and George. Never once did I hear Mom complain or play the ‘martyr’ card. I honestly don’t think those traits were in her DNA. Mom gave selflessly, joyfully. Her glass wasn’t half full, it was overflowing.

Mom and Dad were a unified front. As a teen this was challenging because there was no chance of playing one parent against the other. As an adult, I grew to appreciate the consistency and support that came from my parents. They both firmly believed in keeping their opinions to themselves unless asked. Even so, there were times when I joked to friends that if I wanted my parents advice I almost had to drag it out of them. Even so, advice came more in the form of suggestions, or sharing what worked for them.

In 1978 when I was going through a painful breakup during my freshman year of college, my mom wrote:

AMY read: “You are going through a period when you have to rethink certain aspects of your life and your relations with others. It is difficult, sometimes painful yet a certain amount of this is necessary for personal growth. In the process of examining things one often has a clearer picture of oneself, one’s goals and interests. It helps one to realize that either the status quo is best or if change seems better one sees the direction one wishes to go. I have had several such periods in my life and in retrospect I am thankful for them even though they were difficult and sometimes downright unpleasant at the time. I hope you realize that we care a great deal about you and are at the other end of the phone if you feel like talking to us.”

Years later, in 1995 when my family was preparing to move from Buffalo, NY back to Wisconsin I wrote to my parents, venting about the stress and the challenges of a baby (Amy) and a strong-willed toddler (Sara). Mom replied:

AMY read: “Yes, Nanci, a good cry does help to relieve the tension. It is best when one can have a good cry in private. Men don’t realize how therapeutic it can be. Somehow, if you can see the funny side of things from time to time itwill help. Tomorrow David will be home and you can each take one little girl at least on the airplane and give her lots of TLC (tender loving care). Now, if you only had two people to give you and David TLC, you would be fine. I think you and David will have to take care of each other, which really is the best solution.”

(My apologies to any men in the room who might disagree with Mom’s comments about men and crying - remember this was almost 25 years ago). Mom never wavered from her beliefs, her commitment to her family or her thirst for knowledge and self-improvement. When I was pregnant with Sara, I remember mom sharing how she firmly stood her ground on breastfeeding both me and George even though bottle feeding was all the rage in the late 50’s. Mom created a protective environment for her beloved husband, teaching us boundaries at a very early age. George and I were taught to never, ever knock on the door, or walk into my parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night because it would trigger flashbacks for my Dad of soldiers breaking into his family’s apartment in the middle of the night during World War II. It worked. Once I became a parent myself and understood how kids rob us of our privacy I had to wonder if there might have been an ulterior motivation for mom and dad in keeping their bedroom off-limits.

Although Mom quit working when George and I were in elementary school, she stayed committed to her career, maintaining her Dietician license through continuing education classes and staying current with the latest research. It took me years to appreciate our dubious distinction of being one of the most nutritionally healthy families in Hyde Park. Although she did allow a few scandalous deviations (ask me or my Dad about Sunday lunches with ‘liquor concoction’ a variation of a Latvian treat – a sinful mixture of whipped raw egg yolks, sugar and a choice of after dinner cordials).

Mom was not content to coast. Under that calm, even temperament was a steadfast desire, a true passion for learning. After Mom’s diagnosis, Dad became even more her protector and advocate, cooking, shopping, supporting and fighting for Mom as if he’d done these things his entire life. When mom fell 5 years ago and broke her shoulder, arm and hip, Dad was right by her side in the hospital and then in rehab from breakfast until after dinner, day in and day out. This continued when Mom broke her leg a year or two later, and last year when Mom spent 7 months in the Laurel Wing.

Using his scientific research and education skills, Dad set up brain exercises on Mom’s computer to combat the impact of Alzheimer’s on her memory. He patiently and tirelessly encouraged Mom and was always her biggest cheerleader. In hindsight, Mom had been doing brain exercises her entire life, learning German, French, preparing cuisines to delight the palates of family and friends alike. Mom could regrout bathroom tile, install a linoleum floor (in collaboration with her husband) and knock out the income taxes year after year, audit free.A few years ago I tackled (successfully) repairing an electrical malfunction in my kitchen microwave. Facebook recently reminded me of this memory and what I wrote: “Thanks Dad for teaching me some basic repair skills and instilling in me the confidence (and frugality) to tackle the unknown. And Mom, for leading by example back in the 60’s doing home repairs like a pro!”

Hindsight is 20/20. As a typical, egocentric teen, I thought I knew what was best for mom. She should go back to work and quit being so present for us. She should embrace women’s lib and be less catering to my Dad (this was before I learned about compersion). How very blessed I am to have been able to watch ‘the rest of the story’ to see how beautifully my parents’ synergy is intertwined. As difficult as the past 8 years have been, there have been many silver linings. I have spent far more time with my parents than I might have otherwise. Not only have I gained precious memories of Mom, I have had a front row seat for the most heartwarming love story I’ve ever known. I saw how very balanced my parent’s love has been for over 65 years. There was NEVER an element of keeping score. They both simply did what felt right to support the person they loved the most. It was so effortless and constant that I took it for granted. Thankfully, their love story continued to grow and blossom until I finally saw it in its full beauty,

The love between my mom and dad didn’t end on March 1st. I feel my parents love every time I look at pictures of them together, every time my dad emails me with another message from someone who cares, every time we share a memory, every time we talk about Mom. The connection they have transcends our 3 dimensions. It keeps my mom’s presence right here with all of us. 

Betsy (daughter-in-law) reflections of Joan

“Life is good.” That will always be the phrase I associate with Joan. Especially over the past 10 years, she found a way to find the bright side, the good side, of every day. And that is a lesson worth remembering and sharing and continuing to live.

I met Joan—and Ed—in the autumn of 1985. By that time, I had known George for about a year and our friendship had spanned several countries and an ocean or two. By the late autumn, I was living in New York City and working as a fledgling journalist for IEEE Spectrum. George was working for the WSJ, still living in London and studying Japanese because the paper was trying to coax him into moving to Tokyo.

That fall, I had a chance to cover a biomedical engineering conference that would be held in Chicago. And for some reason, both George & I decided it was a great idea for me to go and have dinner with his parents – on my own – at their Hyde Park apartment.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess I figured I’d just continue to play reporter. What I couldn’t anticipate was Joan’s charm and graciousness—and quirky sense of humor.

We had a lovely meal. I remember marveling at how an apartment could be so large – there was the crazy long hallway – and the line of corks on the top of the kitchen cabinets, like dutiful soldiers bearing witness to the Anders’ fondness for good wine. It also seemed both clever and sophisticated to have a bucket of tiny hotel shampoos in the bathroom, collected from all their travels. (And yes, we have had one ever since.)

They listened to my stories with a rapt attention that I had never really experienced in my own family. (We specialized in interruptions and crazy non sequiturs in conversation.)

It was also a more formal meal than those that I grew up with. Later, Joan would giggle and confide that they sometimes had stressed out the dates of George or Nanci by laying out a full table settings of forks and knives. I got lucky and skipped that gentle hazing. Really glad about it too – I’m not quite sure I would pass today!

In the years that followed, I came to associate deep listening and delight in the present with Joan. We were blessed when Joan and Ed decided to leave Europe and settle in northern California. They moved, sight unseen, into an apartment I picked out for them--and celebrated the choice for years.

Joan always made the time to hear a story. She always asked about our work as well as the boys latest antics. We both looked forward to making a run to “Costco” every other month or so. Once in a while we delighted in great finds such as cozy cashmere sweaters (she got one in green and I found one in lavender). Most of the time, we just chuckled over the thousands of things we would never buy.

Joan and Ed’s apartment came with an outdoor pool – not originally a selling point. But Joan and I spent many, many happy summer afternoons sitting poolside as the boys and sometimes their friends or cousins, would splash around. It was the perfect restful moment: Joan always had snacks and juice boxes. It was a lovely time to talk about everything and nothing – Ed’s latest project, her memoir, the delight that she took in planning her college reunion in San Francisco, her pride in the grandchildren, and in Nanci and George.

Joan’s graciousness and calmness was a marvelous counterpoint to everything else in my life.

Of course, sometimes she could be a tad bit too calm. There was one evening when George was traveling and baby Peter couldn’t stop coughing. He coughed too much to eat his dinner. I grew more frantic by the moment and finally decided I had to make one of those crazy dashes to the after-hours clinic. But what to do with Matthew? I called Joan in a panic and asked if she could come by and watch him.

“Ah, well, we’re about to have dinner – so perhaps in about 30 or 40 minutes?” she inquired sweetly.

I convinced her that right now would be a better choice. And, with that clarification, she cheerfully hopped in the car and came over.

Recently I’ve been rereading Joan’s autobiography. Two things stood out for me: First, as her daughter-in-law, I was truly blessed. Joan welcomed me with consistency and love and kindness, making sure I felt a part of the family in a deep way.

And second: that she loved her life. As a young woman, she dreamed of seeing Europe’s great cathedrals—and she not only saw those, but also Egypt’s pyramids, China’s Great Wall and a hundred other remarkable sights. She lived the kind of life she had dreamed of as a young woman—sophisticated, intellectual, international. And she built a loving family, both with Ed, George and Nanci and later with her grandchildren, that is the best legacy that any of us can hope to leave.

So I’d like to echo and maybe amplify Joan’s fitting observation: Life is good. Life is good because Joan chose to make it good. I thank and toast her for that legacy and hope we can all help carry it on.

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