My very dear friend and mentor, Joan Bramsch, author, teacher speaker, motivator, romance writer, miniaturist, Pluto collector, and photographer of beautiful things like the day lily above, left us on Sunday for her next adventure.
I first got to "know" her back in the 1970's when I sent for a book advertised in Mother Earth News, called Teach Me I'm Yours. A wonderful resource for a young Mom of four, written by an experienced Mom of five, it had activity ideas interspersed with bits of wisdom. The book came in handy with my own kids and then with various Cub Scout dens. I made the mistake of lending it to someone who managed to lose it just before I moved to Cheyenne.
Twenty years later, I was designing and selling dollhouse miniatures to collectors on line. I mentioned on a group digest one very hot July day, that I had just finished making decorations for Christmas trees that were only 1 3/4 inches high. Joan emailed me asking how on earth I'd managed that and insisting she wanted to buy the first one.
When we agreed on a price and I sent her my real name so she could write me a check, she asked if I'd ever lived in El Paso. It turns out that she had remembered me from the check I'd sent her years before for her book! She'd never known another Marceleine.
That began a nearly ten year friendship. Joan became my official butt kicker and made me finally get my first book written. She wouldn't let me make excuses and she critiqued many of the short stories I wrote. Later she began to work her magic on one of my sons and she was delighted to hear recently that he'd nearly completed his first book.
When she began her popular e-zine, Empowered Parenting, in 1999, she asked me to become a contributing writer. I sharpened my skills writing craft ideas for children and reviewing family friendly Web sites. Later she asked me to write a few stories for the e-zine and gave me a valuable credit.
Together we began a project which included only 16 people across the nation but we managed to collect more than 3,000 hand made or donated hats for children in shelters in one six month period.
Over the all too short a time we were to have, we both had heartbreaks and triumphs to get through. We emailed, wrote letters, called each other and shared our best and worst moments. We cried together in the middle of the night on more than one occasion and we laughed like school girls on others.
Joan knew I didn't put any credence to the horoscopes she insisted on sending me each month . Since we were both Pisces she felt we were cosmically connected. I humored her. I knew she wouldn't watch most of the movies or read some of the books I recommended to her but so what? She humored me. All that was important was that we cared enough to share them. She also knew just the right moment to interrupt my writing by sending me a terrible pun or a joke (groaner) so bad it made me cringe.
Last November we were able to share one more wonderful thing. We shared a hug when for the first time in all those years, Joan and I finally met face to face when Jim and I visited her in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Joan had moved to a nursing facility after suffering a massive stroke and was making a strong comeback. Jim and I were Workamping in Coffeeville, Kansas and we drove down to bring her a little golden leaf to remind her of the O' Henry story The Last Leaf. She loved the connection.
When Joan lost her dear Bill a couple of years after we became friends, I mentioned perhaps he'd simply gone on to his next adventure and that he'd have plenty to tell her someday. She liked that idea and referred to it several times. Now it is her turn and I wish her well on her journey. Joan has always felt there was much more to life than simply taking up space on the planet. Now she's part of the lives of moms and children around the world and that won't fade away.
I love you, Joan. I'll miss you.
See ya up the road,