One day, some people came to the master and asked, “How can you be so happy in a world of such impermanence, where you cannot protect your loved ones from harm, illness and death?” The master held up a glass and said, “Someone gave me this glass, and I really like this glass. It holds my water admirably and it glistens in the sunlight. I touch it and it rings! One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already broken, so I enjoy it immeasurably.”
Thai Buddhist: Achaan Chah Subato
Our glass was Joanie!! She held the water that quenched the thirst, and sustained life.
Because of her usefulness, her compassion, care and love, our lives have been enriched by her immeasurable love.
Joan Augusta Burnett Hall was born July 1, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan at Henry Ford Hospital to Eleanor Louise Burnett and Clarence Burnett. She was the first of seven, “The Burnett’s” as they were known on Franklin Street in Detroit. Each sibling brought special gifts into the world that embodied bravery, boldness and a sense of adventure. Joanie’s gift was creativity, a sense of wonder of this beautiful world and a commitment to champion for the underdog.
As kids, my brothers and I and all of our cousins, would listened to stories of their childhood. Being raised during the Great Depression meant a great deal of challenges. Yet, Mama Lou, as my grandmother was called, created miracle after miracle. She could make a cake out of seemingly thin air. Her sheer determination ensured that each holiday was filled with special memories.
Although they were poor, the family was resilient. Grandma Lou taught all of the children to find the joy in life’s events. She also recounted to each of them, daily, about their Native American heritage and all about Chief Beargrease and their roots with Ojibway tribe from Grand Portage Reservation in Minnesota.
Joanie had many talents. She was artistic, loved to sing and loved to write. She won a singing contest when she was 18 years old and sang on stage for a while. She also joined the Air Force. She taught her own children and grandchildren all of the marching songs.
Joan was strong. She got married to Lacey Hall, had three children, Charmaine and twins, Christopher and Anthony. After her husband died, she went to college to become an art teacher. She did this while lovingly taking care of her kids, cats and dogs, and a house. And she made it look like fun. Joanie taught school in the Detroit Public Schools for 25 years.
Joanie didn’t complain. She tried to see the bright side of each day. She always made life seem like an adventure, with highs and lows, ups and downs. But win or lose, she believed that it was our responsibility to accept the challenges of life, find a mission, and do our best.
Joanie loved to fight the good fight. She showed her grandchildren how to be activist and write letters, go to Lansing or Washington, or march for what was right.
Joanie loved helping. And she would help without reward. She would help unceasingly, quietly. She would help and encourage anyone she thought was in need.
Joanie loved animals. She would feed stray cats and dogs, and even drive around with food in her car, looking for abandon dogs to feed.
Joanie was fun. She showed us, really, how to live. Joanie left a host of family and friends who loved her; along with her own children, her grandchildren, Maya and Christina, Vidal and Jermaine and great grandchildren, Marvin Jr., Milla, and Nicholas; her sister Sally and her brother Jason. Thank you, our Joanie. We will miss you, every day.
Joanie was good. Joanie was love. She was our little Dove.
One day, she came out to play,
And showed us rainbows and wondrous things,
We skipped and jumped,
And climbed the hills,
We marveled at the daffodils.
But more important than all those things,
She taught us how to spread our wings.