Joyce Mikkelson was my neighbor for just about 30 years. Not just a neighbor though, Joyce was my friend. A neighbor is a nearby dweller; a friend is someone you love.
In the late 70s – early 80s a bunch of us descended upon Joyce and her husband Henry’s quiet, end of Grant Road life. I imagine they felt some apprehension suddenly surrounded by hairy, boisterous youth, but as we grew up around them, building our homes, gardens and families Henry and Joyce became true friends to all of us.
We were fortunate to have their wisdom and experience to help us build our lives on the road. Whether it was potato and fishing lore, or battling bears, bugs and high water, Joyce and Henry became mentors, step-parents and grandparents to us newcomers.
In time, Joyce’s daughter Catherine became a close friend of mine which brought me even closer to the family, becoming a daughter of sorts. Dropping by for tea or one of Henry’s stiff G&T’s around the big oak table was a weekly pleasure. Talk ran from politics, how to stuff and tutorage on local family trees, gardening, books and Coronation Street. Like true neighbours, dropping by was encouraged; no invitation needed.
At the end of a busy day, Joyce, like myself loved to unwind with a walk down the road. Like clockwork I’d reach her house and we’d stroll together. That time spent is memorable to me, quietly with a friend enjoying the cooling air of a day almost done. Years later, when Henry passed those walks seemed even more important.
Joyce petite, charming and classy, from a generation of women living through a depression, a world war and dramatic shifts in economic and social forces was a determined and resilient woman. A war bride from England with a passion for theatre, she plunged into life in the wilderness of Bella Coola with her stiff upper lip. To me Joyce was the smell of warm buns out the oven, a lover of asparagus and roses, a reader of British mysteries, a strong steady voice, a welcoming smile. She was a good neighbor and loving friend. It is hard to say goodbye but her tenacious and gentle spirit will always remain on the road, in the neighbourhood and in my heart.
All My Love, Monica