Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Passages: Joan Kathleen Austin, 1936-2013

Joan Kathleen Austin - 1936-2013
I found out this evening that my mother's oldest sister, Joan Kathleen Austin, had passed away peacefully late this afternoon. Like my mother, she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and her condition took a sudden turn over the past few weeks.

It would be easy to sit here and write about the toll that Alzheimer's has taken on my family. I've written about it several times and the post that best describes the impact of the disease can be found here. I would much rather focus on my aunt's life and how she impacted my own life.

Aunt Joan was someone who I saw on a regular, at least monthly, basis while growing up.  My first memories are visiting her and my Uncle Bill when they lived down in Hackensack, New Jersey. There were many weekends spent at their home - one visit I remember vividly is when Hank Aaron hit his record breaking 715th home run. It was at my aunt and uncle's house that we all watched that historic moment.

Soon she and Uncle Bill moved up to Wurstboro, New York which was much closer, yet they kept their jobs in New Jersey and commuted every day.  I don't know how they did it, but you knew better than to call or visit after 8pm because they were up and on the road each morning by 4:30 am for the long drive to New Jersey!

Aunt Joan was always indulgent - she was like a grandmother who didn't refuse you when you wanted another cookie or wanted to do something fun. She was also crazy - as in wacky - she had no "filter" and was very unpredictable. It was always fun to be around her and she always made you laugh or at least shake your head in amazement.

I will miss her. She was a big part of my family and rather than remember the ravages of a hideous disease, I choose to hold close the best memories I have of her and of her life

© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Dorene from Ohio said...

What wonderful memories!

Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

Sounds like you had great fun with your dear Aunt Joan! I'm glad to hear that she played a special role in your childhood. Peace to you and your family, Thomas, as you say your good-byes to her.