Posted October 16, 2015:
Josephine and the Kitten

by Carol Ann Gieske.

There is an old saying "Still waters run deep". For me, that describes Josephine. Beneath a very private and sometimes aloof exterior were a compassionate heart, a keen intellect, and a quick wit.

JoJo and I lived together for twenty one years in Madonna House Toronto, and my friendship with her began with the care of a tiny orphaned kitten.

It was so young that its eyes were not yet open, and JoJo gave it a warm fuzzy blanket and a gently ticking alarm clock to sleep with. And I watched her feed it with an eye dropper and massage its belly to help it pee.

We were both delighted when our director Trudi allowed us keep him. A Russian blue-Persian mix, JJ (as I named him), turned out to be gentle and quiet and content to live as a house cat.

As we enjoyed the kitten together, I began to appreciate Josephine’s compassionate heart. She was for the poor, the lonely, the underdog. And since she was a baseball fan, that included the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a championship since 1908!

Josephine had a scientific mind and an artisan’s heart. And she had a stick-to-itiveness that helped her master the bookkeeping and, along with Trudi, work through the innumerable forms and reports required of non-profit organizations.

One day when I was nattering to her about something, she said, "Carol Ann, you see everything as a problem." That was a moment of revelation for me. She whom I saw dealing with some pretty daunting problems taught me that challenges can be adventures.

When ill health necessitated Josephine’s return to Combermere after twenty-six plus years away, I was in Combermere, and I was privileged to visit her regularly. She trusted me, and our friendship helped ease the transition for her. She began to relax and her quick wit resurfaced.

The best example occurred just days before she died, when she could scarcely speak. One of the nurses asked her, "Josephine, can I have your arm?"

JoJo answered, "Only if you give it back!"


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