This Month, my Mother Passed Away.
(What follows is an edited version of her obituary, written by my sister. )
Joan Alice, or “Joanie” (as everyone called her), 88, died on December 11, 2020.
Joanie was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Frank and Lillian Olejnicki Fijolek, and was a true city girl until moving with her husband, Ted, to Lindenhurst, Illinois, in 1956. Ted and Joanie were among the pioneers of the village, and their early years were chronicled in her book Love, Joanie: Letters from the Suburban Frontier.
Joanie was a career homemaker. A devoted wife and mother, she was an excellent cook and slapdash housekeeper who preferred digging ditches, hauling dirt, gardening, listening to opera and reading to such drab chores as washing dishes and/or ironing. She enjoyed camping, and made even the most primitive campsite into a true home.
She was also a talented artist in woodcarving, clay sculpture and painting. Her earliest works were displayed at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. In later years, she made small toys for her children, and contributed her artistic gifts to her CCD class at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Lake Villa, Illinois.
In 1989, Joanie moved to North Carolina with her younger daughter, where she continued to be a full-time mama, grandma and great-grandma. An avid reader, she was an active patron of the local libraries until her disability and vision loss. She joined the NC Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in 1998, and had enjoyed over 5,000 audio books prior to her death.
Joanie is survived by her two daughters, five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, four nieces and one nephew. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ted, in 1978; her beloved brothers, Raymond “Raymie” Fijolek in 1938 and Norbert Fijolek in 2005, and her sister, Irene in 2017.
In accordance with her wishes, there were no services. In memoriam donations may be made to Friends of the North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (FNCLBPH), 1841 Capital Blvd., Raleigh NC 27635 (so that others may read), or to an animal rescue of your choice (so that others, like her cherished Tuffy and Kiki, may live).
“Though her life was long and productive, she looked back on it with less than satisfaction, dismissing her many accomplishments as mere accidents in an otherwise unremarkable existence… when I asked her what she would like as her epitaph, she thought for a moment, and said wistfully, ‘She meant well.’” (Love, Joanie, p. 274.)