The Love You Make
Dedicated to Joan Yingst, 1967 - 2013
I grew up not knowing my extended family very well. It was an enormous extended family (I had almost 20 uncles and aunts, and that's just counting the blood relations). But half of them lived in Japan and the other half lived across the country from where I grew up in New Mexico, and my immediate family was slightly estranged from them anyway. So I just didn't know my cousins very well, if at all. Most of them were older than me and frankly I don't remember them now except by name. But one cousin I do remember was Joan. She was about my age. On the couple of times that we traveled to Illinois to visit with my father's family, she and her sister Emily were the ones I would play with. I distinctly remember that she used to call my Aunt Willa, "Mother" in a sing-songy voice and I thought that was odd and kind of endearing because of the way she said it and the fact that I and all my friends called our mothers "Mom". I never really had any contact with Joan after we got to be teenagers and then adults, but I understand that she grew into a wonderful woman, wife, and mother. She was apparently a fan of classic horror movies, which is unusual and I suspect that we likely would have gotten along well as adults because I really love unusual people. I wonder if her kids called her "Mother" in a sing-songy voice? Unfortunately, I received news this weekend that Joan died on Friday. It was a shock to me and clearly devastating to the extended family in Illinois. She was well-loved. And I wish I'd known her better.