As a part of the top ten percent of my graduating high school class, I had the privilege of recognizing a faculty member of the school district for being “most influential in my life.” Of course, I had plenty of teachers that I could easily have nominated. But I wanted to nominate someone who would probably never be nominated if I didn’t do it, someone who deserved recognition for her hard work. Of course, that was not an easy task because, well, how do you look for someone who is always overlooked?
So, during my spring break, I was helping to paint the set for our spring musical, and Joy was there, doing her work. I had to find her to open a closet so that we could wash our brushes. After a very excited greeting, she hobbled all the way back across the school with me just to unlock the closet. As I was rinsing brushes, I thought, what if I nominated Joy – a janitor?
So I did. I had to admit to the secretary that I had no idea what her last name was! Everyone just called her Joy.
Our nominees couldn’t find out who nominated them until they were recognized at the banquet. I remember rehearsing for the musical and overhearing some of the adults talking about Joy’s nomination and how overjoyed she was at being nominated. I was afraid to talk to her because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. But I was thrilled that she was thrilled.
Being first in my class, I presented my award last. And, of course, Joy knew most of the (nearly) 40 students who presented awards before me. She waited on the edge of her seat for the entire banquet before she found out that her nominator was me.
Joy spent her last Christmas with my family. She didn’t have anyone left at home. She is surely missed, but I am so glad that she has all of her burdens lifted and that she doesn’t have to scrub toilets anymore – although if there were toilets in Heaven, I’m sure they’d be sparkling clean right now 🙂 She always told me that she couldn’t sing and that she loved hearing us “high school kids” sing. But I think she has the better deal right now, as far as music programs go.
I thought of Joy as my fairy godmother. She went out to buy a dress just for that banquet. And she bought another dress for my graduation. She bought me expensive gifts for my graduation, and brought more for my graduation party. For my graduation party, as well as for Christmas, she brought her giant cake that everyone loves – angel food cake with cool whip, topped with Heath bar crumbs. I didn’t even get any at my grad party because it was all gone before I had a chance to grab some!
She always greeted us all with a kiss and always told us how great we looked. She always told me to tell my mom to come over so she could give my mom some of her many hosta plants. And she was always overjoyed to see us and hear how we were doing. She was such a blessing in our lives, and I’m so grateful for the memories I have of her.
If at all possible, I think heaven is just a little bit sweeter because of her presence.