That was Joan’s High School Motto …our High School Motto …me and the alumni standing to acknowledge words that once armed us for the day- but prepared us for life.

Today, we say an earthly goodbye to Mary Joan Marjorie Broomes, who wore her tri-name combination with the air of posh elegance that became part of her signature.

Joan, we learned, was supposed to be the first child of her parents, Malva Roberts and Gary Broomes, when she was born on November 5th 1955…but she came with a brother, Philip, announcing from birth that she had an affinity for company and demonstrated that over the years, by the scores of friends she made and kept for decades.

I’m told that she was the last of the twins to enter this world. I believe that. She made being late another part of her signature.

But let’s not forget its other parts … and when being late was not an impediment but her superpower.

Miss Broomes was a financial analyst, whose dexterity defied the time that was specified for task completion. She was late to work, she admits, but was first to complete, with absolute accuracy, her clients’ statements.

She was so reliably error-free that she would be assigned, at least, two other statements which she completed in the same time it took others to do one… making her ratio of completion a phenomenal 3 – 1 for the volume of pages, those statements comprised.

And of course, with her other signature being critical thinking, her rationale was that being late meant nothing, if the job she was expected to complete in X hours was being done TIMES THREE.

Her lateness was aggravating, though. The last time she accompanied me to Guyana, to one of my former job’s reunions, we went to Arrow Point Resort, via several water falls and other stops. We were slated to fly from OGLE airport at 8.30 am. I DELIBERATELY told Joan to be there at 7.30 am. Those of us who know her would know even an hour, is no buffer zone. But I took the chance, thinking that a ride from BV to Ogle ain’t that far. At 9.15, the pilot was still negotiating for more take off time because Joanhad not yet shown.

Then she arrived… as in the movies…taxi man speeding to where we were assembled, screeching halt and everything, scrambling out of the car as if she was always in a hurry…

I exchanged NO PLEASANTRIES… not immediately, at least.

But that was Joan …that was vintage Joan.

Many of us who loved her, and now ache from her sudden exit would recall this ‘late but gregarious’ person as one of enduring intellectual curiosity. But that never predisposed her to an overabundance of pomp and circumstances. She had amazing grace and the capacity to mingle where mingling was happening.

And it was this dexterous balancing act that made Joan popular up and down the social spectrum – beloved from the lunch room to the boardroom -in her employment capacities…and from the least to the grandest in social circles.

Within her family, she aimed high, striving to be amongst those who formed its beacon, always extending a helping arm to those who would come along.

She celebrated every birthday and wedding, cried and mourned at every funeral and never forgot to broadcast the happy achievements in between.

She was soft of heart but fierce and combative of spirit. She was accommodating of differences but steadfast in purpose. She was guarded, yet embracing. She was emboldened by challenge. She was singular in character. She was our sister, our relative, our friend. 

We’ve come today to rain blossoms down on Joan’s memory and as selfish as us not wanting to have seen this day is, we know that she is back where she started, with parents who predeceased her, with her twin who left before her, with her Grandmother whom she fashioned her morals after and with her husband who left way too soon.

We’re promised the three score and ten but that’s just a measure of years. We were also promised talents, wisdom, drive, curiosity – and Joan was imbued with these gifts in amounts that surpassed the measure of her years.

So, as we bid physical farewell to JB, Miss Broomes and Mary Joan Marjorie today, let’s count our blessings that for all she represented, it’ll be hard for our goodbye to be more than merely a physical gesture …for she will remain etched, burnished in our memories. 

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