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Tony sent this to me last night, made me smile and cry!
Joanna’s Memorial Service
Who would have known …..? Danny Keane and I would be here together 45 years later. Some of you may not know this but in 1969 we went to college together in the DC area. Dan Keane offered me a ride home to CT. He paid for the gas and I bought the beer. (I think that was before all the laws, right Dan?) Danny was on the golf team at Georgetown as was my former husband and they became roommates in their senior year. Danny was a dear friend to the both of us. In 1977, he called to say his sister and brother in law were transferring to Jacksonville and could we help them with information on different places to live. Andy and I had Tony and Joanna and 7 year old Carter for dinner in Atlantic Beach and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
You’ve heard the saying “it takes a village” just consider me “the village’s voice”. Tony has sent me all of the posts from the “cruising family of friends” and I have asked her “home” friends to give their input to develop this memorial to Joanna.
Joanna was a friend who transcended all age groups and social groups. She could befriend a young 8 y.o. Vietnamese girl as well as a 90 year old women. Joanna is as close with my daughters and some of yours too, as she is with us. My Kate told me the best thing about Mrs. Mondae is she listens. She was a great listener. As both the “home friends” and the “cruising family” know, she loved to find out “your story”. She delved into people asking all the right questions and pretty soon you were telling her more than you ever may have wanted to share! She truly was interested in you and remembered your details …. She loved people and pulled all different kinds into her circle. Her loyalty to friends was “a strength” of hers. If you were hurt in some way she tried to empower you and came to your defense in public leaving others very uncomfortable in her path. She was a great advisor, full of wisdom and took an interest in your issue. The amazing thing was she kept your story to herself. Your secret was ALWAYS safe with her.
Joanna enjoyed authentic people. Our girl suffered no fools. She could dismiss people as quickly as she could engage others. She would explain later that “they were not her cup of tea” so if she liked you ….. YOU ARE HERE TODAY!
When I think of Joanna, I smell Shalimar, I see outfits in lime greens with shocking pinks or bright yellows and oranges against her sun tanned skin with shocking gray hair and pink gloss lipstick; Joanna always looked wonderful. She had three maternal aunts: Mary, Helen and Gertrude who taught her to take pride in your appearance. They laid out her clothes before she went out and she continued that practice thru life. Joanna could ask her aunts to sew any outfit and they would comply. She dressed to the nines with her make-up perfect and she prided herself on this. She used to tell a story on herself about a dinner in a dim lite restaurant in St Augustine. She and Tony were with the Revs Milton Murray and Jim Cooper and their spouses. Joanna after dinner quickly opened her purse to freshen her lipstick but by mistake put mascara on her lips. She began to tell the group a funny story and couldn’t understand why they were looking at her so horrified! Until Tony said “What the hell is on your lips”? You could never be vain telling that story.
Joanna was an avid reader of books; she also read three papers daily: the New York Times, the Boston Herald and the Washington Post, always interested in the Irish Sports pages. She had an eye for colors, loved to decorate and could see what worked and what didn’t in a room. Her opinions were strong in both decorating and life’s choices. She made no apologies for her choices. Joanna was a very private person. She lost her oldest son, Bay, and was diagnosed with cancer within two weeks of each other……. I had forgotten that. Just one of those hard blows would put any person down, but not Joanna. Her strength and courage in the most difficult time of her life was beyond belief. She got up every day and went to work. She was surrounded by the Christ Church community that she loved so much.
Joanna was strongly influenced by her mother and her aunts. They taught her what the important skills of life were for a young lady: proper etiquette, proper dress and how to be a gracious entertainer. Joanna had great etiquette. She wrote the most beautiful thank you notes or just a note to tell you something kind. She tried to follow the entertaining rules adding a bit of “mischievous fun” to her dinner parties. Years ago Joanna had a dinner party. We arrived, and had cocktails on the back porch. We moved to the dinner table, set up on the patio by the pool. The table was dressed beautifully in linens, crystal and silver. But the centerpiece, that was a little disconcerting. It was a group of Barbies in questionable poses! But by the end of the night, the dinner party guests were contributing to possible “new positions” for those poor Barbies!
Her entertaining has to include a story about her infamous special Irish Coffees. She made great Irish Coffees. She served a deadly Irish Coffee at the end of the night to an unsuspecting person at the table. Her choice could be because you said something she didn’t like or because she didn’t like you by the end of the night but many a new guest went home not remembering much of anything. Our girl had a little bit of an evil twin sister in her!
Joanna always looking so elegant could come up with wild capers or just be the major ringleader for them. Her PV circles of friends were just as ingenious. She would “pool hop” late at night at McWilliams pool on LeMaster, bringing her children and their friends. Heck, she even brought Aunt Helen with her one night when she was visiting from CT. Another night after a black tie New Year’s Eve dinner party, they stole the Fire Truck and all the wives were hanging on to the back of the truck as it raced down the road to a fake fire at Pa Bissell’s house. They reserved the Reynolds mansion on Sapelo Island as the Beaches Hysterical Society, no really they needed to be a nonprofit to rent it. It was great, they played Doo wop music all night long, as loud as they wanted because they were the only ones on the island. The staff went home on the ferry every night.
It was Joanna’s idea to cruise. Tony was happy to go on an occasional trip to St Bart’s or the Bahamas. She continued to travel between treatments. There is an amazing video that the “cruise family” put together that shows the joy they experienced traveling with friends. The pictures of Joanna and Tony on different cruises were always full of laughter and doing silly things which seemed to support the theory that she was truly the same with everyone. She and Tony have seen the world and kept life extremely interesting. She planned it that way! She was determined to focus on the fun things in life.
Can someone tell me what her problem was with doors and locks? She got locked in our powder room at Sawgrass three times. And Carter you rented a place in SoHo and she couldn’t get the door open so you had to rent a hotel room. And Marci and Tom you all rented a beautiful place in Italy that once the realtor left you couldn’t get out of it. The PV crowd went to Eluethra for the Millennium. We rented a house that had two separate wings with a courtyard connecting them. That morning at breakfast, we noticed Joanna was missing. She was locked in a bathroom on the other wing and had been yelling for an hour. They had to take the door off the hinges to get her out. She had some bad karma with locks. Maybe it was “pay back” for following all those celebrities into the bathrooms to get a better look or strike up a conversation. Heck she is probably in the bathroom with Joan Rivers now!
Joanna was the same great fun to her family that she was to her friends! Her humor was constant. When she was asked by her children what she would like to be called in her new role as grandmother she responded “How about Stephanie. I always liked that name.” HONEY as she became known to the next generation adored her time with her family. She focused on her children and grandchildren with a plan to enjoy every minute with them. She planned her grandchildren’s (Hannah, Carly and Keane) visits using her creative and imaginative storytelling about secret gardens and ponies in the backyard. She took them to “Old Will”, better known as Goodwill, to pick out Barbies and their vast wardrobes. She taught them everything she knew and was a stern teacher if they didn’t practice basic etiquette. Keane, I heard you were the only one on the Bucknell volleyball team who wrote a thank you note after being someone’s guest. Way to stand out! Honey would have been proud.
Sara embodies everything Joanna was taught and passed down, notice I didn’t say practiced. She was a constant moment of joy for Joanna because she did everything right. Joanna use to take her to the mall instead of going to school just to get her to break a rule. Sara, you gave the ultimate gift back to your Mom by taking care of her to the end as Joanna did for her mother. Taking the time out of this busy world to focus on what is important; and sacrificing for someone who sacrificed for you.
And Carter, you are the quiet rock. There are no words to describe the relationship you two had. You were her baby, her boy. All your siblings say you are the favorite. She loved and protected you. She was stern but then would easily forgive you. You were a constant conversation filled with pride. You could always find some way to give back to her and surprise her. She loved it and she loved you very much.
Lara and Amber, she loved your spirit. She loved talking to you because of “your take” on things. The last time she entertained was in honor of Lara and Sara’s birthdays. She wanted to celebrate you. She raved about sweet Amber, always so kind in thought and deed. She so admired you and your parenting. She would brag about you often and of course we all read the letter Adian wrote in support of keeping his long hair.
Oh Tony, what a life! Your relationship with Joanna was something to behold. You were partners in marriage who respected one another. I always loved to watch you two, your “quick witted” banter. It was like a skit from George Burns and Gracie Allen or Ralph and Alice Cramden. But you could look at her across a table and quietly say “I love you” and she would stop mid-sentence and say “Love you too Tone” These last 6 weeks, I have admired your dedication and strength to walk next to her, allowing her to lead in this process and keeping her choices in the forefront. You were her right hand. You were self-less. You made it so much easier on her because you were there.
One of our friends who is an oncologist told me “Her heroic struggle these last fourteen years was not the norm, it was extraordinary”. Her strength and courage in this battle is awe inspiring. Her Mayo doctor stated that she always stayed so positive throughout her treatments. She was such a lady who lived with style and grace and never complained about how she was feeling but rather focused on you with kindness and warmth.
In the end, all we have left are the stories, the nice ones and of course the irreverent. The greatest gift we can give her is to remember her. So continue telling her stories. Then we will keep her alive in our hearts for generations.
So many have posted on this thread, and perhaps to give it an appropriate end, I just wanted to follow up with our visit to Ponte Vedra for Joanna's Memorial Service on Tuesday. I am not on Facebook, but understand the others there have posted some pictures there. So I will post my thoughts to share with everyone our visit of two days and nights.
My daughter Joanna, Marcie and Tom, and Arlene and I all flew into JAX on Monday, and shared a car for the drive to PV, arriving at about 6pm. The Kimmies were already there. Tony met us, and we all shared lots and lots of hugs. Tony was a trooper keeping his composure, hard as it was for him.
For that first night, we were all invited to a cookout at a beach house nearby that Tony had rented for some of the family, how very nice of them to include us. We stayed next door to Tony in a condo offered by his neighbor John, for which we were grateful. Tony and Joanna's family could not have been more welcoming to us. We met his daughters, Amber and Lara, who seemed to adore Joanna. Amber is the mom of Aiden, a grandson, who was unable to be there. Both sisters had seen Ray's video, and their hearts were touched at all the condolences and tributes in it. Then we met daughter Sara, her husband Chris (who was the grill chef), and daughter Keane. Sara and I talked both nights, she knew Joanna had her travel friends, most definitely. And she told me her mom popped to attention just 2 days before passing, and wanted Ithaca read at the service. Ray sent that video link with Sean Connery moderating. Such a beautiful poem.
And her other grandaughters Carly and Hannah, and their Mom Maria, who is the widow of J's deceased son Bay, we also met J's son Carter, who is now living in Bali, and her brother Danny who came in from CT. Present as well were Stoney Dvornick, Sara's sorority sister who was such a huge help, and her husband. Joanna and I had realized some years ago that Stoney's in-laws were old close friends to my own sister, who had met J&T.
I met Joanna's dear friend Kathy McWilliams, so happy to, after hearing about her for many years from Joanna. We also had a nice chat.
It was a wonderful night, with lots of story telling and sharing of memories with all of them. After that, we LCT'ers gathered again at Tony's for a nightcap.
The next day, we all arrived together at the church. BettyK jointed us for the service, having driven over 2 hours to be there. What a beautiful church it was, with exposed wood beams, lots of light, and stained glass, and beautiful flowers. As each of her PV friends that we had traveled with before arrived, they came up to our group and welcomed us warmly. Made us all feel so good. They all know how important Joanna and Tony are to us.
The service itself was so well done, I'm sure prepared with lots of thought with a lot of input from both her and her family. There was lots of music (listed below, you can see it all on You Tube, I just don't know how to put in the links, sorry), readings from the Book of Common Prayer, and Remembrances from granddaughter Keane with Hanna and Carly at her back, and a recitation of the poem, Ithaca, requested by Joanna herself just a few days before her passing, and to mark her love of travel to distant destinations, as Sara explained to me. Remembrances from her friend Kathy McWilliams, as well. The homily was delivered by her friend Joan Bryan, who was a retired rector from the church.We then had a beautiful solo, On Eagles Wings, and Holy Communion.
It was then on to a reception in the Parish Center, and a visit to the Memorial Garden with Tony, where her ashes were committed that morning.
That evening, another reception at the beach house for their family and social friends, and we were about the last to leave. Especially wonderful to my daughter and me were seeing their good friends Suzanne and Bob Taylor, and Liz Minor, who had so many good words to us.
We all left on Wednesday morning,so glad to have met the whole family and J's friends to share our goodbyes. First time either of us has had to say goodbye to an lct friend, and a very special one at that to me.
The music: oh how I hope you all will google the songs and listen
The Lord's Prayer
Morning Has Broken
Here I Am Lord
Last, the beautiful solo, my favorite, On Eagles Wings
Lift High the Cross
Thanks so much for posting about our trip to Ponte Vedra for Joanna's service. It was such a special trip to say good bye to such a very dear friend. You did a marvelous job. Her Celebration of Life service was magnificent.
Daughter Sara and S-I-L Chris did such a magnificent job with the 2 Beach House parties. Tony has said over and over that he could never have made it this far without Sara's help the past few months. I nicknamed her St. Sara.
Tom has talked to Tony on the phone, good bonding time for both of them. Tony is staying as strong as can be expected, just imagining how difficult it must be with this next chapter in his life.
Daughter Amber flew home to Oregon today. Tony is considering the April Azamara crossing and we've talked of other travel plans. He doesn't want any of the LCTers to forget about him, as if anyone could ever forget our Tony !
Joanna & Tony have a very special framed collage hanging on the wall in their home office with photos of LCT friends taken on cruises and land trips. It's so special and I meant to take a photo of it and post it but I forgot. Not sure if any of us got a shot of it?
He has his special, beautiful song to Joanna (you may remember this song from Budweiser commercial) Let Her Go I love it !
Thanks again O for doing such a great recap.
Olivia Thanks for posting this. Her service was so beautiful in a very beautiful setting with family and so many friends there. She was so special to so many of us.
Marcie, I did not see the collage in their office as I only peaked in the doorway. I wish I would have seen it. I am so happy that Tom is keeping in contact with him. I have been thinking about him all day today knowing that Amber was leaving today. I hope you and Tom can convince him to go on the Azamara cruise with all of you. I can't wait to be able to cruise with him again….you are right we could never forget our sweet Tony….things would'nt be as fun without him.
From Joanna Mondae