Be a Gift

one of Joi's doilies

One of Joi’s Doilies

Joi and her husband were poor. He was a sacker in a small grocery while she raised their four children in a two-bedroom house and they both worked on college degrees at the same time.

Although we were good friends, Joi was a constant source of inadequacy in me. Her scratch cooking, home canning, crocheted doilies, and hand-sewn quilts, all worked on my sense of accomplishment. She would even blend soy beans in her blender for soy milk.

And then turned it into ice cream.

How did she always fill the gaps among their possessions with cheer? How did she know all about healthful eating before the age of computers? How did she know about herbal healing before the herbal renaissance? How play piano beautifully? I would never catch up!

The day came when Joi and her husband completed their degrees and moved to the land of employment. I lost touch with her, but not exactly; I still can feel Joi’s cheer in my life.

One time, for my birthday, she brought me a huge surprise. Simple and cherishable, just like Joi, the gift brought me happiness, that day. Enveloped in kitchen linens was an enormous steaming loaf of bread. You’ve never seen one that big. I was so excited. With it was a bag of spinach from her own garden, immaculately cleaned.

What fun we had loving that sweet gift to pieces, literally! These delicious additions to my birthday supper may seem like an odd gift to you, but Joi knew what it would mean to us, and we saw the love in it.

If I had washed and washed a big bag of spinach and then given it away I’d be missing it. But Joi just smiled her cheery best. If I’d had the aromas of homemade bread floating through my house, for naught, if I’d known that bread was going to someone else’s house, I’d have handed it over very longingly, not cheerily like Joi.

In a way, you could say Joi was the gift.

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12 thoughts on “Be a Gift

    • Katharine Trauger says:

      Oh, Ruth! I’ve often thought that. She was/is smiling and has a higher pitched, singing voice, like Goldie Hawn, but not comedic; just cheery and graceful. She always brought glimmers of a happier way to be, when I was around her.

  1. Ray's Mom says:

    Joi is the kind of person that could have been my mother, even the hand crocheted doily. I often wish I had paid more attention as she made quilts for our beds, dresses for my sister and me and canned the bounty from the huge garden. What a life. It taught my sister, brother, and me to be self-sufficient and an appreciation for the ‘things’ that make life special. Joi is truly a joy for all her talents and good will. We need more Jois in our world.

  2. brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR) says:

    I do hope you are able to find Joi … what a beautiful person, simple, and a teacher! It’s those people who are never forgotten, but yet they rarely remember the simple gestures that are so natural. She taught you, and you are like her! You focus on what truly is important in life. Take care and stay safe.

    • Katharine Trauger says:

      Thanks for all your kind words, here, Edie! Guess what — I found her! I am so excited and waiting for her to respond to my message to her. I KNOW it is her because of the lifestyle, history, and kids’ names. I am really happy you ALL encouraged me to do this! 🙂

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