Notes on Granny Jo's passing,  April 12, 2006

Greg Porter

 

 

Sunday, April 9, 2006 
I visited Jo early in the morning, about 7:30am. I was there about 40 minutes. Rachael Degerman was in town and visited Jo in the afternoon. I wanted to get some pictures of her with Jo and so returned that afternoon with Bryce. We found her in the dining room, at a center table having dinner with Rachael, Daisy and Carol, Rachael's mother in law. I stopped to say hello to Bea, Neddie, and Bill - Jo's usual dinner companions, and waved to Rance. We arrived at about 5pm and took pictures of Jo with Bryce at 5:04pm and then with Rachael and Daisy . Bryce left about 5:15 and then Rachael about 5:30, as she was to meet Saundra at my home at 5:50. I escorted Jo into her apartment, where she stood next to the curio cabinet and assured me she was ok from there. She thanked me for coming, as always, and expressed how happy she was to see Bryce. I told her I loved her, reminded her I'd be traveling to St Louis the next day and through Friday, and told her I'd call her each day from there. This was the last time I would see her before she passed away. I closed the door at about 5:40. How I'd love to have another moment to talk with her knowing she'd be gone. How grateful I am for being able to spend time with her twice that day, and for having Bryce there with me.

Monday, April 10, 2006.
I was on a business trip at the Boeing Leadership Center in St Louis. This Monday was a travel day. Bryce called me at 11:45am Arizona time, just 15 minutes after my plane arrived in St Louis. He was unaware of my trip, I talked with him from the limo that was transporting me from the airport to the Leadership Center. We talked for about 2 minutes. After arriving at the Leadership Center I took a walk along the nature trail they have that borders the Missouri River. Here's a shot looking back from the start of the nature trail at the Meramec wing and top balcony where the nature trail picture was taken from and from where I'd talk with Jo for the last time the next evening at 8:19pm. The trail turned North through the woods, then curved West to the river where it turned South along the riverbank. I stopped at the first of two rock Jetty's extending into the river near the path. This Jetty was the Northernmost of the two. The jetty extends westward into the river about 40 yards and then normally turns North to parallel the shore for another 60 yards or so. The river was high enough that I had to stop at the West end of the 40 yard portion because the North section was submerged. From that westerly tip I took some self portrait pictures with the river and jetty in the background at 1:50 and 1:51pm , then called Jo at her apartment on Arbor in Mesa at 1:51pm Arizona time (3:51p in St Louis) and talked with her for 5 minutes. I told her of the trip and the beauty of the river. I wish I could remember all we talked about. As soon as we hung up Rachel called me at 1:56p and we talked for 4 minutes until the cell phone broke away. I called her right back for another 2 minutes. She's pregnant with her first baby and due in July. She calls me and Lisa frequently. The jetty tip location, if Google Earth is accurate, is 38deg 51'08.90" N and 90deg 20'26.79" W. I talked with Jo again the next evening from the balcony of the Meramec Wing overlooking this river spot at 6:19pm Az time for 6 minutes . The next cell call I received was the following night at 7:28pm Arizona time from Lisa on her cell to tell me Jo had passed away that morning, the 12th. After walking the river I returned to my room to find a 9:29am Az time email from Bryce - the first he'd sent me since starting work at Boeing on March 24th. I typed a reply to him, told him of the pictures I'd taken at the river and sent him 3 pictures; one of me with the Jetty in background taken at 2:23pm , one along the nature trail at 2:51pm and another of the mirror image building next to the Meramec Wing , taken from Meramec's balcony at 12:57pm just before I started the hike.. I sent the email at 4:00pm, just 2 hours after my chat with Jo from the Jetty.

My last conversation with Granny Jo. Tuesday, April 11, 2006 6:19 to 6:25pm.

from the West Balcony of the 6th floor of the Meramec wing at 5:32pm Az time, one of the building next door at 5:33 with a reflection of the sunset in the glass , and one of me with the sunset behind at  5:35pm . A classmate then stepped onto the balcony and I talked with him for several minutes about the church though I was anxious to call Granny Jo. After he'd gone inside I opened my cell phone and for the last time, at 6:19pm, I spoke the voiceprompt "Josephine" to dial her number, as I'd done innumerable times before. She answered with her familiar 'Hello' and upon learning it was me she asked how I was with her typical "How are you ?" with the emphasis on the you. This was always immediately followed by 'and how is your family all ?". After assuring her all was well I described to her the beautiful view I had standing on the balcony in a mild breeze and perfect temperature, looking over the tops of 60 foot trees at the Missouri river less than a block away, and the green farmland beyond. She said it sounded beautiful. She asked what kind of trees they were. I told her they were Oaks and Elms and that I'd taken pictures with my digital camera that she would be able to see when I returned. She said she was looking forward to seeing them. She volunteered how much she enjoyed seeing Bryce on Sunday and that he was a 'beautiful man.. '. And, as was typical, she didn't want to take much of my time - she assured me she was fine but mentioned it was hard just knowing I wasn't close by and that she was looking forward to me returning on Friday. I told her "I love you Granny Jo", and our conversation ended. Just 6 minutes of pleasant conversation, like so many hundreds in the past few years. I'll miss her cheerful, complimentary voice and selfless perspective. I'll miss the familiar response to my knock on her door "Come in " in her own sweet tone and sometimes followed by the query "Friend or Foe ?" or the declaration tinged with appreciation " I just knew it was you..."

The next morning I woke up and took a picture of the dawn out my room's window at 5:46am Az time. It was getting light at Jo's at the same instant, with full sunrise occurring at 6:02. I'm sure she noted the dawn as she was typically an early riser. I spent in the day in classes oblivious to Jo's passing later that morning in Arizona. Sally and Hersch had gone to check on Jo at about 9:30 or 10am because Jo hadn't answered their phone calls. They found upon their arrival that she had passed away, probably from striking her head on counter as she fell in the bathroom. What a wonderful blessing that she would be taken so quickly and without suffering, which she certainly deserved. At about the time that Sally and Hersch discovered Jo, I happened to take a picture in the Leadership Center in St Louis that I recorded the following about in my palm pilot:

"Today (4-5-07 9:40am) I noticed something interesting as I was looking through pictures I'd taken in St Louis the day Jo had passed away. I wasn't aware of her passing while taking the pictures, and was taking them primarily for the intent of sharing the trip with her upon my return, as she so enjoyed photographs and hearing about my travels. Now knowing the timeframes of events taking place in her apartment in Mesa that day, I noticed that the 1st picture I happened to take in the St Louis Boeing Leadership Center after her passing was taken (10:01am Az time) at the approximate time that Mom and Hersch were arriving at the apartment to discover Jo had passed away. In finding this image, I wonder if she was then taking a picture for me…. The picture is of an elegant and relaxed indoor seating area high above the surrounding countryside, with a beautiful many-windowed view of the peaceful landscape and blue sky beyond. The last few words of an inscription in the borders of the ceiling seem to communicate more than their original intent. Granny Jo's reunion with Grandad, and our future opportunity to be with them again seems to be the reassuring confirmation whispered in the words "For us, the sky's no limit.""

I also recorded in my palm pilot how and when I learned of Jo's passing:g:

"This evening, Wednesday April 12, 2006 at 7:28pm Arizona time (9:28pm St Louis time) I received a cell phone call from Lisa. I was in my room (6410 Meramec Wing) at the Boeing Leadership Center. Lisa told me Granny Jo passed away this morning in her apartment. They had been trying to reach me all day. I've cut short my trip and have booked an 8am flight in the morning back to Phoenix. ... It's 1:53am here in my St Louis room as I type this note. I can't believe she's really gone…

Below are the pictures I took in her apartment from 10:48 until 11:28am on April 13th. Later that afternoon I visited the cemetery and took the picture of f Darvil's headstone at 5:29pm. I'm happy they're together again.