Sunday, June 29, 2008

Memories of Mary Joyce--A Grand Lady!!

Mary Joyce
August 21, 1915 -- June 21, 2008

On Friday, Yaya and I flew over to Los Angeles to attend the funeral of our long time family friend, Mary Joyce. My cousin, Marion, from Turlock took the train and the bus to LA to meet us. We all stayed in Long Beach on Friday night. We got in late and went directly to the hotel and joined Dennis and Janet and Jerry and Marilyn and their cousins, Debra and Darrel, in the hotel restaurant. Jerry spoke of how he tried to explain at work the family connection to Mary. Mary is actually his second cousin, but she was truly his "aunt."

I remember attending Mary's 80th birthday celebration put on by her "niece," Cornella 13 years ago. My mom, Teresa, Patrick and I went out to Los Angeles for this event. Mary attended so many of our family functions through the years
. I always enjoyed visiting with her, hearing her laugh, and seeing the sparkle in her eyes.

The Reidys, the Joyces, and the Scotts have been friends since the early days of Arizona statehood in Douglas. The friendship goes all the way back to our grandparents. This strong friendship has lasted for over 90 years making the Reidys and Joyces see
m more like family. They attend all of our family functions and we attend theirs. It is absolutely amazing that this connection has gone on for so many years!! The Scott Family was well represented and our Aunt Teresa was very proud!!

Saturday morning we went to the Funeral Mass which was held in the chapel of the Nazareth House where Mary lived for the last several years. We were joined by our cousins, Jean and Tom, from San Jose. They had left San Jose in the middle of the night and had driven in to Los Angeles Saturday morning.

The priest who said the Mass is the chaplain of the Nazareth House. When he talked about Mary, he talked from his heart and you could tell that he truly knew this wonderful lady. He spoke of Mary's incredible faith, of her wisdom, and of how she made him feel welcome when he moved to Los Angeles from New Orleans.

At the end of the Mass, Dennis went up to eulogize Mary. You could tell how difficult this was for him, but he did a great job!! He told about Mary being born in the 800 block on 14th Street in Douglas, Arizona and of the many wonderful people who came from that block. He told about her attending Loretto School with her buddy, Tom Scott. He told of her being the editor of the Loretto School newspaper that she and Tom named the "Lorimac" which was a combination of Loretto and Immaculate Conception. Before she graduated from Loretto, her family moved to California because of the closing of the copper company in Douglas at that time.

Mary's story is
an amazing journey, especially for those times. After she graduated from high school, Mary attended UCLA majoring in business. She went to work for the Internal Revenue Service and when she retired, she was the chief of office audit for the IRS with over 400 employees working for her.

Dennis spoke of her devotion to her own mother and how she took such great care of her mother in her final days. He then talked about how she became a surrogate mother to Cornella, Jerry, and himself. He talked about her laugh that could fill a room.

He ended with a poem that he had found that he felt suited Mary completely.

You can shed tears that she is gone

Or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

There was a reception held for all of us at the Nazareth House. Everyone sang "My Wild Irish Rose" led by the son of Joe Feeney from the Lawrence Welk Show. Mary would have loved this.

After the reception, we all went "around the corner" to Mary's favorite Irish Pub, the Irish Times. Mary loved to go there. Dennis and Jerry ordered old fashions for everyone and we drank a toast to Mary. It was a fitting way to say good-bye to this wonderful Irish Lady!!

I know how much she loved, Cornella, Dennis, and Jerry. They took such loving care of her through the years and returned that love.

Mary will live on in all of our hearts. "Those we love are never really gone, as long as their stories are told." We will continue to tell Mary's story to our children and grandchildren. I know that the world is a better place because of Mary Joyce and I feel fortunate to have had her in my life!! I know that I will "smile, open my eyes, love, and go on!"

4 remarks:

velvet brick said...

..... what a beautiful, tender tribute to this lady, Sheila. The poem that Dennis read is not one that I've heard...and yet, does it not say it all? It sounds like this woderful woman's life was so celebrated!! We should all be so lucky to be remembered with such love. Thank you for sharing this with us.


Cheela said...

It does say it all, Carol. It is by a poet named David Harkins, who is British, not Irish as Dennis pointed out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much, Sheila, for sharing the beautiful tribute to Mary Joyce with us. The last time Tom and I saw this lovely lady was the day before our daughter's wedding two years ago in Santa Monica. Just the way our dear Dennis treated her you could feel the love and devotion he had for this special woman. After reading your blog I could see why she held such a special place in his heart.
Thank you for the pictures and just sharing your memories of this beautiful woman.
Tom and Sandra

Cheela said...


Thanks for always making a comment!! It was a beautiful service and Dennis did such a great job!!