The Story of Jo
This is the story of Joretta, or “Jo”. Her story is a pendulum, swinging in vast arcs from joy and laughter to tears and pain.
Most of her story involves her family. She had two daughters with her first husband. He wasn't the best of men. He ran off and was later found dead in a cat house (bordello if you aren’t familiar with the term). Jo then married a struggling mechanic, Jack Rogers, who had two daughters of his own. Together, they had an additional six children.
Jo worked as an emergency paramedic and later, the sheriff’s office. In addition to being a mechanic, Jack was an alcoholic. He enjoyed beating on his family, broke a few bones, even tried to strangle Jo. Two of the children had to jump on him and pull him off before he managed to kill her. Jo grabbed her children and ran. She divorced Jack. Then they reconciled and remarried. He carried a broken spirit and a darkness within him that shadowed the lives of his family. Eventually, Jack took his own life.
The children were grown and living their own lives. Jo met a man and for a time she was happy. Alan seemed kind. Unfortunately, Alan carried some of the same darkness that had resided in Jack. Alan became abusive. They would fight and Jo found herself lost, unsure what to do. Fate entered her life again and took Alan. A car of teens ran him over, killing him instantly.
Jo became a grandmother, many, many times over. It seemed as if fate was finally dealing her a good hand. She met her soul mate, Bill. He was a retired Canadian Mounty. He cared for her; he protected her; he loved her. Jo’s children were happy that she could finally experience true joy. One night, they went out to have dinner at a restaurant. Halfway through a bout of laughter, Bill experienced a heart attack and died right there, next to the dinner table.
It seemed fate had not yet finished toying with her life. Her baby, Michael, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He fought valiantly and viewed his upcoming death with humor. When he died the family mourned deeply, but also took comfort in how he had experienced life.
Time passed and Jo became a great-grandmother, many, many times over. She met a man who had lost his wife from cancer, Joe. Together they were “Jo and Joe Rhude”. Her children didn’t care for Joe, but they saw she was happy and that she enjoyed his company. For a time, life was peaceful and life was good. Jo rejoiced at her children’s lives, and her grandchildren’s lives, and her great-grandchildren.
When she was diagnosed with multiple Myeloma cancer the children were devastated. She died on September 17th, 2001. Nine of her children surrounded her deathbed as she slipped away. But, her story was not over. Her dying wish instructed her children to spread her ashes to rest with her beloved Bill. Jo was cremated and for one year, the ashes remained with her first born. After that year, the children, many of the grandchildren and several of the greats gathered to celebrate with a memorial. A huge bonfire lit the sky and the family shared memories, funny stories, and hardships.
The next morning a caravan of vehicles drove to a specific golf course. Two of the daughters carried with them small bags filled with ashes. While the family members began to play nine holes, the two daughters snuck away. Careful to avoid the golf course watch guards. They snuck to the 18th hole and released the ashes.
Here’s to you grandma.
Note: Yes, this is a true story… It would take me an entire book to write the true life of my grandmother. My mother’s family has some of the most unusual and entertaining stories I’ve ever heard, remind me sometime to share the story of the Weeping Willow. I love sitting with my aunts and uncles and hearing them talk about their lives growing up. I wrote this today because someone was talking about golf courses recently and I just needed to get it out.