Friday, January 12, 2007

Dear, Dear Joann

I would like to add my voice to all of yours in celebration of Joann.  Even typing her name just now without the "e" brings sadness.  The unusual spelling of her name is reflective of all her special qualities - and I am bereft I will no longer write emails to her and read her responses, or see her and hug her in the dining room at Haven, or at Smiler's in New York, or most specially propped on "her" green sofa here at my home on Gabriola - talking with me about everything "girlish," outfits, haircuts, the books we enjoyed, our weight, our husbands, our dogs, everything.  She played so many roles in my life - initially as a teacher during my Phase programs...I was present when Joann and Linda Nicholls received their Dip.C.'s, - I remember sitting on the floor watching as Ben and Jock praised them and talked about who they were in the world -  I was totally in awe of these two woman, they were "gods" to me.

Joann was a mentor and then the "boss of me" while I was in the Intern path.  She always remembered I was an early riser and at that last Intern Meeting after Small Group, would encourage me to go first to report about small group knowing I wanted to flee the meeting and crash in bed.  I remember during one Intern Meeting the discussion was about fragile egos that shattered easily.  She turned to me and said something like...I'm always careful how I phrase things when giving you negative feedback because I'm aware how easily you collapse - and I looked at her wide-eyed and said, I'm not aware of you giving me any negative feedback and she retorted...See what I mean? See how careful I am?  In the early 90's I invited her to Portland to co-facilitate, along with Susan Clarke, two Sass family meetings - her generosity of spirit, her calm presence, her humor, her spot on feedback impressed each and every one of us - and each one of us believed she was our own special advocate and each one of us was correct.  Joann "starred" in my video series, COUPLES, adding her special form of facilitating and credibility to the mix.  She was an eager and participatory guest many times on our boat, Eleanor Allen, and was so doggone appreciative to be she KIDDING?  For us, it was a coup that Joann Peterson was sharing vacation time with us!!

I have been house bound here on Gabriola the last four days, dealing with an extended power outage and SNOW.  I've talked on the phone with a few friends about Joann's death, but basically I've been alone, thinking about her.  Yesterday (Thursday) was a startlingly beautiful day and I thought about Joann as I sat on the couch and looked at the ocean, the mountains and the seagulls flying about in the vast sky.  My belief is Joann is here, everywhere, so I talked with her in my mind, then in whispers and finally out loud and applauded her and asked her questions.  How are you?  What's it like to be free of your ailing body?  Have you met your mother?  Have you seen my Mother?  Of course, there were no answers to my questions, but doggone it, I believe she was there with me, smiling her smile, nodding her head, adjusting herself on her black backrest on the green sofa, being as always my teacher, my mentor, my boss, my traveling companion...and most wise and wonderful girlfriend.  I love you so, Joann - fly free!!

Jennifer Bement Sass
(503) 635-7511  Letting Go Foundation, Inc.
(503) 635-9967  Sassy Productions
(503) 635-9727  Fax


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