This beautiful woman is JoAnn Marshall, my mother-in-law, Mom to my wife Kim and Mom Mom to our four boys. JoAnn, a faithful Catholic with a passionate devotion to Mary, died at her home in the late afternoon on Holy Thursday, with a Rosary being said at her bedside, and right after last rites and the Apostolic Pardon had been administered by her parish pastor. JoAnn was 82. During JoAnn’s last week, Kim was with her regularly, praying with her and helping out her brother Jay and the amazing caregivers. Each of our boys got to spend some time with her, and my last time with her, the night before she passed, Connor, Jay and I said a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at her bedside.
JoAnn was diagnosed with Dementia several years ago, and perhaps the greatest gift of the many, many gifts she gave our family was the ability to take care of her in our home for a period of about 12 months. Even as her body and her mental abilities declined, she was always a happy, peaceful presence and I am confident that the charity and compassion our boys learned by assisting her with meals, getting her around the house, and simply helping and being with her in the evenings and at bedtime, will stay with them forever. Kim and Jay could not have been more loving and devoted to their mother. I watched them care for her in the last few years with gratitude, humility and an amazing sense of humor.
While her dementia defined her last years, I got to know JoAnn as a caring, fun-loving, opinionated woman who was devoted to her family. Perhaps the defining acts of her life were her 39-year marriage to Sam, who passed away in 2001, and their adoptions of Jay and Kim, whom they raised together at their home in East Norriton. While there are too many to list here, some of my favorite memories: JoAnn’s presence in the delivery room at Connor’s birth, her look of surprise/horror as she arrived at our first home in Wayne to see a laughing Kim being put in an ambulance with John, who had just been, in a very unplanned way, born at home. Her clothing creations: JoAnn loved to sew and she was constantly creating fun, colorful home-made pajamas for the boys in their early years. She also made some really patriotic costumes for the boys, including George Washington, Ben Franklin and Uncle Sam. Speaking of patriotic, JoAnn loved the Fourth of July, and there were many parties at her home and parades in her neighborhood to celebrate. JoAnn loved cooking for her family, and she also loved dining out, especially at the William Penn Inn, where we shared a lot of happy family dinners. Even in her final months, JoAnn was committed to enjoying food!
Given the current situation, we’re going to have a private family funeral on Thursday and JoAnn will be buried next to Sam at the Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine in Doylestown. After things improve, probably in the summertime, we’ll have a memorial Mass and a reception to celebrate her beautiful life.
If you knew JoAnn and have a memory you would like to share, please do, and I’ll share them with Kim, Jay and the boys.
It’s probably by design that JoAnn was called home during the Triduum. Kim and I hope you have a beautiful, blessed Easter. (from Dave Savage, JoAnn's son-in-law)