I knew her as Grandma, but she was Joan for 50 years before I burst into the world and changed her name forever. During the two decades we shared each other's lives, I never saw her as Joan. Only in the 11 years since her death have I really gotten to know her as a woman. When she died, I was nineteen and barely a woman myself. Since then, I've inherited so many of her photo albums, books, letters, treasures and memories. Through them, I've learned more about the real Joan Fay Stroup Portillo-Shaffer...
She loved to laugh...
She loved picking my mom up from the airport.
She loved nature and short-shorts.
She loved animals.
Her greatest love, Sid.
He died when they were only 50 years old, almost exactly one year after I was born. She said I was the one bright spot in her very dark world.
Our family lived on opposite sides of the world, and later, on opposite sides of the country. When we were together, we made every moment count.
We always waited together until the plane left the terminal. The last time she waited with us was August 2001, one month 9/11. Two years later, I took myself to the airport because my mom couldn't leave her. She died one day later, less than one month before her 70th birthday.
She was always there. I still can't go to the airport without thinking of her.
Thank goodness for memories.