Joy A. Stevens
Tuesday 11th of October 1932 - Wednesday 5th of August 2020
Mom was born in the town of Colmar, a coal mining town which no longer exists. Grandma told the story that when Grandpa saw her for the first time, he said she looked just like a little bundle of joy. And that became her name.
There were 5 girls, Geneva, Mom, Trula, Bea and Brenda, and mom was the second oldest. The family attended church regularly at Clearfork Baptist where Grandpa was a deacon. Grandma led the choir for a time there. They formed a musical group called “The Arnett Family” and traveled to nearby towns singing at church services and revivals. Later Trula joined them and they became “The Arnett Sisters.”
Mom graduated from Middlesboro High School in 1950. She attended Lincoln Memorial University for a few semesters.
After meeting our dad, they married in 1952. Dad was in the army, and they lived in California for a time, then Massachusetts where Julie was born in 1958. After moving to Lexington, Susan came along in 1960.
Mom held part time jobs during the early years so she could be home with us as much as possible. We particularly loved the years she worked in the lunch room at our elementary school. During junior high, she was the secretary at our church. And in our high school years, she was an active band parent, sewing uniforms for the color guard and even chaperoning us at band camp.
We spent our early summers at lake Cumberland, camping with family. Later summers at lake Herrington. Mom was also our Brownie leader and did the best arts and crafts projects with us.
Mom and dad were very involved in the Oleika shrine temple. They spent many Friday and Saturday nights at shrine activities. The best part for us was that we got anything we wanted for dinner that night. We usually picked pancakes. They’d get home at midnight, sometimes with a big crowd. And she would make her famous sausage gravy for all.
After mom and dad divorced, she married Steve. She left her job at U.K. and they bought a motor home and traveled all over the U.S. and Canada. They particularly loved Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. She began a lifelong affair with lighthouses, visiting as many as she could. Anyone who’s been in her house has seen her collection. From lighted tabletop versions to clothing to notecards to everything in between, the lighthouse became her beloved symbol. They also loved house boating on Lake Cumberland, and spent many summers on their boat “The Fifth Amendment.”
After Steve’s passing, mom was alone for a couple years until Tim and Susan provided her with the most perfect companion, her grandson Logan. She was entirely dedicated to him. In the first few weeks, she would come over every single day and watch him while Susan napped. She would then take all the dirty clothes home, wash and iron them, only to return the next day and do it all again. This went on for months. When Logan got old enough to talk, she decided she wanted to be called Mom-Joy. His interpretation of that came out “Dojji”, and she’s been Doj ever since.
Her later years were filled with church where she sang in the senior choir and sewed with a group of ladies making banners for the Christmas program. Once her health began to deteriorate and she moved to assisted living, she was very involved there. From singing (she always sat on the couch next to the leader Keith so she could start each song), to working puzzles (she sorted the pieces by color.) She took drawing classes and loved to color. She especially loved playing bingo. She made strung bead jewelry and gave it to everyone. She made friends there, especially Miss Robey. They always blew each other a kiss when they passed in the hallway. She hugged each and every employee every day and was the unofficial mayor of The Willows.
Things to really love about Mom
-She was a great cook, especially country foods and baked goods. She was known for her red velvet cake and especially her pound cakes. Logan has learned to master those. Doj would be proud.
-She could sew anything. Pleated draperies, perfectly recovered cushions piping and all, appliqué, cross stitch, knitting. You name it she could sew it.
-She was a great practical joker. You never knew what she was going to do on April fools day. Dead ants in the sugar bowl, unsweetened coffee in your ice tea glass. She glued little rubber frogs in the bottom of our milk glasses one time when Julie had a sleepover. Once she tied our bedroom door knobs together and left for work. We had to climb out the windows.
-She could figure out how to do any home repair task. Electrical, woodworking, she’d cobble (her words) a way to get it done.
-She could play the piano by ear. Name any song, give her a second, and she’d figure it out.
-She taught by example that a house needs to be clean. And to make your bed every day.
-She taught us to properly set the dinner table. We still do to this day.
-She knew that family history was important. She spent hundreds of hours traveling and researching our family name.
-She made us stick with piano lessons, and we are both grateful.
-She went home to Middlesboro on Memorial Day weekend and helped clean the family cemetery.
-She loved to send cards for every occasion. With confetti in them. Usually angels.
-She loved the color yellow.
-She made Christmas really special. Every year dad would take us girls shopping for the tree. When we came home, there were always freshly baked cookies waiting. Her job was to put the lights on the tree. We opened stockings last, and she really worked to make the little prizes in them special for each of us.
-Julie and I went with dad on a work day trip to Somerset. It was the 1960’s, and we’d been in a hot car with no air conditioning for hours. We finally got home, pulled in the driveway- there was our little pop up swimming pool filled to the brim just waiting for us.
-Easter Sunday when we were little, Mom made matching periwinkle blue dresses with polka dot sleeves for the three of us. She also made Barbie clothes, an entire wardrobe for them.
-There was a creek behind our house, and every winter, we would bundle up and walk the frozen creek at night when it snowed.
These last few years have been hard on mom. These last few weeks, and days are too hard to talk about. COVID stole her last months from us. But in them have been blessings too. Employees at the Willows sharing stories about how she sewed buttons on for them or hemmed their pants. How she always sang “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” She colored coloring book sheets and delivered them to other residents who were feeling a little down.
As seizures began a more rapid decline in her, her love of music began to rise above the illness. She would sing her sentences, and the songs flowed seemingly subconsciously. One song in particular kept coming out- one we’d never heard her sing before. Trula confirmed that they had sung it as young girls.
How beautiful heaven must be,
Sweet home of the happy and free,
Safe haven of rest for the weary,
How beautiful heaven must be.
In her Bible, she had written many notes. Inside the front cover, she wrote that when she gets to heaven, she’s going to kiss Steve on the cheek, right after she kisses Jesus’ feet. Well done good and faithful servant. And thank you Grandpa, for giving her the most perfect name.
I am your cousin, daughter of Jeanette. Your memories of your mom were so beautiful and described the cousin that I knew exactly as she was. Time and distance have separated us but my memories of her visits to NC are much as you said. She was so special. I still have some of the angels that she included in her notes. I will be praying for you and know that she is part of the Heavenly Choir singing Joy, Joy, Joy.
I live in Nova Scotia - near Peggy’s Cove. An online Local paper did an article about your mom ( https://www.halifaxexaminer.ca/featured/you-are-responsible-for-your-own-safety/ The article about your mom is the last one and explains how it happened upon her story) After reading the article and then your wonderful dedication to her I just wanted to send my condolences and to let you know that hundreds of Nova Scotians reading this article were probably like me. Thankful she loved the beauty of our area but sorry we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her! She sounds like an amazing person. I’m so sorry for your loss. She certainly is someone who lived a rich and meaningful life and is a true definition of “ Well done My good and faithful servant”. Thank you for sharing so many of your memories of such a wonderful mom.
No words can erase the sadness you all feel, but I hope it helps to know there are others who understand and care.
Karen and Norrissays
Sincere condolences to Susan, Tim, Logan and family. Sorry for your loss. Thinking of you at this time. God bless from Karen & Norris xx
John A. Martinsays
Julie and Suzie, my sincere condolences in the loss of your Mother. Aunt Joy was always very sweet and loving towards us when we were growing up. Thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved mother. That was a wonderful dedication to her of stories & memories that you will always have.❤️ Much love & prayers to Julie & Susan & all the family & friends that remember Joy as a blessing in their lives.❤️