Over the summer, a dear friend passed away. She was a mother, grandmother, entrepreneur, and the world's most inspirational volunteer.

Her name was Joan Parcewski, and although she was old enough to be my mom, she became my friend.

How We Met

I met Joan when I joined a women's networking group, Polka Dot Powerhouse. She was the first person to request a "connect" with me. I was surprised because I couldn't figure out what we'd possibly have in common.

She was a real estate agent, and I was a memoirist. How could I possibly help her and make her time with me worthwhile?

We met for over an hour that first time, and for several hours multiple times throughout the next two years.

We talked about business and family and our own personal histories. We introduced each other to new organizations, ideas, and contacts.

And we talked often about Joan's philanthropic works of service.

Our Passions

In addition to her work with the Lion's Club, Joan was a passionate advocate for seniors. She loved helping seniors downsize and find new homes. She helped their families learn how to live with a dementia diagnosis, and she was an evangelist for the Purple Table project. Joan's goal was to let seniors know she could see them and that their lives mattered.

Ahhh . . . Now, I understood why God had called us together.

Having a passion for helping people realize that their lives matter was what we had in common.

Having a passion for helping people
realize that their lives mater
was what we had in common.

And Then She Got Sick

When Joan got sick last year, I was honored that she told me. She didn't tell many people. She didn't want to be a burden. She was a humble, modest, and private person.

I checked in on her, encouraged her (especially when she got her new wig), brought her gifts of comfort, and prayed for her. And then, Joan got better. She was back to her packed work and volunteer schedule. The world was right again.

Until July 2, when I opened my Facebook newsfeed. Inside, I saw a message posted on Joan's wall. Her son informed her Facebook friends that she had passed away the day before. I was confused and sad and angry.

Why didn't I know she was sick again? Why didn't I ask her if I could capture her Words of Wisdom? Why hadn't I checked in with her more often?

As it turns out, Joan got sick relatively quickly, and many of her close friends didn't even know. At her memorial service this weekend, all of her friends talked about her gifts of service, her unceasing energy, and her laugh. Everyone missed her laugh.

This is one of the main reasons I believe that you need to record your voice for your family and friends. Your voice, your laugh, your accent . . . they cannot be replicated, but they will be missed.

Everyone missed her laugh.

So, why am I telling you all of this today?

Well, first, I feel it's fitting to honor Joan on Grandparents Day (Edit: This was originally sent to our email list on September 8, 2019). She was a grandparent, and I haven't been able to bring myself to write about her until today.

But I also want to remind you (and myself) that life can be short. We don't always get a chance to say goodbye, but we do have a chance to live a Legacy of Love. That legacy—our legacies—will live on forever.

One of Joan's last requests was to establish a foundation in her name to continue her volunteer work as her legacy. I will contribute to this foundation. But Joan's Legacy of Love is much more to me than the foundation. Her legacy lives on in the kindness she spread, in the people she touched, and . . . to be honest, in her laugh.

As many of the speakers said at her memorial service, "If we could all be a little more like Joan, the world would be a better place." I couldn't have said it better.

Join me today—let your grandparents know their lives matter to you and be a little more like Joan.

Your Legacy of Love
will live on forever.

Want to create a Life Story Heirloom™?
Check out the workshops offered in
my Life Story School today.


This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!


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6 thoughts on “We Should All Be a Little More Like Joan”

  1. Thank you for sharing your friend’s life with us. Joan seems like an amazing woman.

    This line – “Your voice, your laugh, your accent . . . they cannot be replicated, but they will be missed.” – struck a chord because it’s one of the things I miss most about my dad. His laugh. His voice. It’s been nearly 15 years too long.

    This is a great reminder to me to do this often for my own kids.

    • Hi Jess, So many people tell me that they miss their loved one’s voice. It really is something that’s irreplaceable. Yes, please do save your voice, not only for your own children, but for the generations of children that will never have the opportunity to meet you.

  2. What a beautiful tribute for your friend and an important reminder to us about the variety of ways we want others to remember us by.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  3. It’s so valuable to leave a recording of your voice, a video, something for your loved ones.

    My dad passed when I was 6 and I don’t remember what he sounded like. How he walked, smiled. Then recently I finally had an opportunity to go through some audiotapes my mom had kept from when I was a baby. I thought it was all recordings of old radio programs, and some of me babbling as a baby.

    Then, on one of the tapes, I heard my dad’s voice. What a gift.

    • Oh, Wendy, that must have been so awesome to hear his voice after so long! I’m so sorry that you lost your dad at such a young age. The tape must have been a life-changing find for you. Now, I have to add my “Memoir Mom” voice and remind you to make sure the tape gets transferred to digital. The tape will continue to deteriorate over time, and I would hate for you to lose such a valuable heirloom. Thanks for sharing your story with me.


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