IN MEMORY: Frances Joyce Brooks

Frances Joyce Brooks October 3, 1942-May 2, 2020

“It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away. Everyone told me it would happen one day but that’s simply not something I wanted to hear, much less experience. Once again I didn’t get things my way! That’s been the story of my life all my life. May 2, 2020: Choice Joyce is off the market, sorry boys, you snooze you lose.

And while on that subject (the story of my life)… on October 3, 1942 my parents and older brother, John Robert (my partner in crime) celebrated my birth and I was introduced to all as Frances Joyce Brooks, the daughter of John Alton and Roberta Brooks from Chewelah, WA. I can’t believe that happened in the first half of the last century but there are records on file in the Court House which can corroborate this claim. Later came my sister Carol and little brother Carmi, and the world was changed forever.

As a child, our family traveled frequently as my father was a Navy man. My claim to fame when we lived on the Pacific Island of Pohnpei, was being the fastest palm tree climber on the island. Hey, if you are going to do anything, be the best you can be.

Dad’s last station was in Waukegan, Illinois, and that is where I started my own family. I was happy being a stay-at-home mom, finally getting my GED, majoring in sewing, much to my children’s’ chagrin.

So many things in my life seemed of little significance at the time they happened but then took on a greater importance as I got older. The memories I’m taking with me now are so precious and have more value than all the gold and silver in my jewelry box.

Memories … where do I begin?

My first marriage gave me Christine Marie and Catherine Jay, who I sadly tortured with Toni permanents for much of their early school years, along with polyester stirrup pants that were cut into shorts when they outgrew them (not ideal in the smoldering heat and humidity in Grayslake, Illinois).

My second marriage gave me Elissa Gaye and William Allan (how did he escape the rhyming middle name, I don’t know). Elissa delighted me with her imagination and unusual hunger to read at an early age..sneaking the book Jaws from my bookshelf, only to innocently ask me ‘what is a fantasy?’..she was 7. William, or Sweet William, was the kindest soul, in a houseful of brash, assertive women. He survived, but our dog Buster could have fared better without Will feeding him a case of Coors beer that his dad had stashed in the camper.

We spent many traditional holidays and vacations with family, always ending the evenings with the kids pig-piled in a cousins bed, and the adults playing pinochle into the wee hours. There were weekly outings to the in-laws farm, where I generously painted the outbuildings and planted pine trees while I was 8 months pregnant with Elissa.
In the late 70s, I was back in Chewelah, near mom and dad, who had a farm on Flowery Trail. 30+ years of treasured family get-togethers on the farm.. That place was magical. I worked for Dr. Boone, and he and all the ladies I worked with remained dear friends til the end. Apparently, I have some unfilled scripts in my dresser from 2013, sorry Boone.

In the 90s I became a certified medical billing coder, and was considered quite good at it, thank you very much. Oh, you all know, I had a passion for excellence in everything I did and always told it like it was, so get over yourself.

The last twenty or so years were lovingly spent with my life partner Greg, or Gregory. Greg you know the way I say your name and I hope you are smiling right now. We fished, hunted (I really loved making Bear soap), camped, went to the cabin for morels (remember when I became allergic and deathly ill? Thanks) and went huckleberry hunting. You brought me so much joy. We hosted many a Chataqua weekend with my kids and grandkids.. each year a terrific story of drunken, or bloody fun… but always a good time… or something we could laugh about at a much later date. My grandson Nicholas named your apartment ‘the Department of Corrections’ and for good reason. Lastly, thank you for caring for Scruffy, my special boy (and yes Chrissy, he is your brother).

Just when I thought I was too old to fall in love again (12 grandkids), I became a great-grandmother, and my seven great-grand-angels stole my heart. Olive and Rowen especially had tickled my last years with their imagination-I had forgotten that unicorns and mermaids were real.

Both my parents and brother John have passed, and I missed them terribly, but was lucky to have Carol and Carmi as best friends. I was blessed with awesome sister and brother in laws, Melissa, Marcie, Lynda, Cliff (I wish we had one last dance), and Bill (Carol, you know there are others, I think I lost track, lol), Judy, Diane, Mary Lou, and Jim. My son-in law Johnny, you know you were my favorite. Kevin, please keep Chrissy in line. I will treasure the artists in my life, my nephew Toby and granddaughter Rhianna. I had special relationships with my nieces Kelly (thanks for sharing your stuff?), Heather, and Traci, nephews Josh (kisses from heaven) and John Scott (so proud of you), and my grandkids Max (Mr. Hello Grandmother), Thomas (that question about God and Angels that you asked – the answer is yes), Nicholas (I guess you can have that black AC/DC t-shirt back), Brianna (a special kindred spirit), and Dana. To my angels back in Illinois, I wished that we could have spent more time..grandkids-Camden, Casey, Mary C, William, Roman, Karolyn-kisses from heaven.

All of you are treasures that are irreplaceable and will go with me wherever my journey takes me.

Speaking of titles…I’ve held a few in my day.

I’ve been a devoted daughter, a spirited sister, a certified medical coder, a loving partner, a comforting mother, a true and loyal friend, and a spoiling grandmother. And if you don’t believe it, just ask me. Oh wait, I’m afraid it’s too late for questions. Sorry.

So … I was born; I blinked; and it was over.

No buildings named after me; no monuments erected in my honor. But I DID have the chance to know and love each and every friend as well as all my family members.
How much more blessed can a person be?

So in the end, remember… do your best, follow your arrow, and make something amazing out of your life. Oh, and never stop smiling.

If you want to, you can look for me in the evening sunset or with the earliest spring daffodils or amongst the flitting and fluttering butterflies and hummingbirds. You know I’ll be there in one form or another.

Of course that will probably comfort some while antagonizing others, but you know me… it’s what I do.

I’ll leave you with this…please don’t cry because I’m gone; instead be happy that I was here. (Or maybe you can cry a little bit. After all, I have passed away).

Today I am happy and I am dancing. Probably naked.

Love you forever.”