I spent this weekend in San Diego.
When I was a kid, it seemed so far away and hearing from my aunt and her family was a rare treat. While I was a baby and we lived in California for awhile, we spent time with them all, but it was not until my uncle and aunt and two cousins drove across the country that we became close.
While we were geographically distant, we still are, we were drawn to each other. I love my cousins and I loved my uncle and I loved my aunt. We said goodbye to JoAnn Helen Hogan on Saturday.
There was a lovely service in a Catholic Church, even if my aunt was not Catholic. There is a story there, but it is not mine to tell. After the service was a luncheon at the local VFW. My aunt had been an auxiliary member and spent many Sunday mornings there having breakfast. And if you were visiting, well you went along.
Many people came to pay their respects and while my aunt did not understand why people cared so much for her, we all did. It was repeated over and over again.
I spoke, but not eloquently and I did not say what I wanted to say. I'll admit I was crying and speaking was much harder than I had thought it would be.
This is what I wanted to say.
Hi, I am Margaret Fuquea. I am the daughter of JoAnn's only sibling, her sister Jackie. My mom really would have liked to be here, but she does not travel well these days.
Jackie and JoAnn grew up on a small island in the middle of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Jamestown. Their father was born there, their grandfather was born there, and back until I don't really know when.
They were raised, mostly by our cousin, Beanie and a housekeeper, named Ann. My mother was convinced that Ann liked Joey best because there was never any frosting on Jackie's hot cross buns, because Joey got it all. She used to speak of how when they were young she was always being told to let JoAnn tag along and how much she resented that. But then they grew up and married Navy men and went their separate ways, there were many ports of call for all of us but and thru it all there was a bond that was never broken.
When we found out Joey was sick, I was talking to my mom, she was afraid to call. She said, I just don't know what to say. I told her that she just needs to hear your voice, so call. She did and she was so glad she did. On the morning of June 28th she called me and said, I just called your aunts house and there was no answer. Something is wrong. Find out.
So, I called or texted, I can't remember which and learned that my mom had called at the same time JoAnn was drawing her last breath.
My Auntie Jo was a force. She was funny. She could drink you under the table. She always welcomed any one of us Fuquea kids whenever we showed up at her door. Every time I called she would say "Mags, when are coming to visit?" Every time I walked thru the door at Hogan's Hut is was like I was coming home. She was the rock of so many people. She was my rock when I could not talk to my own mother about things, I could talk to her.
She was my mother's rock when life did not go as planned.
They loved each other. They were confidantes. They kept each other's secrets. And my mother knew the moment that JoAnn left this earth.
My mom will miss her. I will miss her.