I fully expected that she would no longer be with us by the time I arrived. I was upset that I'd never had the chance to show her the dedication to Best Served Cold - it was dedicated to her. She didn't do the eBook thing, so I was waiting to see her in person and show her a the dedication in the front of a hard copy of the book.
I was surprised to find her in good spirits when we arrived at the emergency room. She was admitted to the hospital and spent the next day visiting with her nieces, nephews, and friends and receiving phone calls from concerned friends and relatives. Not to mention giving her nurses a hard time. I even got to show her the book dedication. She was very touched. All indications were that she would make a recovery, but we lost her due to complications during a routine procedure that evening.
Joyce had no biological children, though plenty of nieces and nephews and adopted nieces and nephews. Since I was the one trusted with taking care of her estate, and most importantly, finding a home for her beloved cat, I've been busy.
My aunt was an incredibly cook. I've got my hand on her recipe box and I plan on sharing her recipes with the world. At the least, in blog form. If I follow through on my ambition, in the form of a cook book.
But other things were going on as well. Something Red, the third book in the Goode-Grace series, was released.
And the day before her funeral, American Goth jumped to #9 on the Kindle best-seller list in the Women Sleuths category. One of the high points of my life happening right at the same time as one of the lows. Life is very strange sometimes.
But I've found a great home for the cat. And the recipes are secure. Life will go on, but it won't be nearly as interesting as it was before.
Below is the obituary I wrote for her. It gives a few details of her life, but it doesn't come close to describing the funny, cranky, stubborn, loving person who was my Aunt Joyce. Some day I hope to get around to doing her justice. It's just a little too hard right now.
Joyce Ratcliff Imes, 78, of New Boston, Ohio went home to be with her savior on April 7, 2017. She died peacefully at SOMC, surrounded by her loved ones.
She was born July 23, 1938 in Portsmouth Ohio and attended Portsmouth City Schools. She spent many years as a devoted caretaker to her late mother, Grace Skaggs. She worked for many years at the Fashion Bug in New Boston and then worked at Jade East restaurant until she retired. Joyce loved animals, cooking for her friends and family, and was a renowned amateur food critic.
Joyce married Walter Imes in 1982. He preceded her in death along with sister, Alma Constantino, brother Bill Ratcliff, sister-in-law Virginia Ratcliff, and nephews Gary and Larry Ratcliff.
She is survived by her nephews Dan (Debbie) Ratcliff, David (Retha) Ratcliff, Bill (Patti) Ratcliff, and Ralph Imes, Jr. along with her nieces Debra (Butch) Keene, Pamela Ratcliff, Carolyn Ratcliff, Carolyn Jenkins Ratcliff, Cynthia (Tim) Mackley, Jennifer Imes, and Holly Imes, numerous great and great-great nieces and nephews, plus a host of other "adopted" nieces and nephews who were glad to call her "Auntie Joyce," brother and sister-in-law Roy and Pat Imes, and sister-in-law Margaret Imes.
Her special neighbors Rob, Barbie, and Mia Wright were a loving support to her.
If you'd like to remember her, consider a donation to the American Heart Association 's Go Red For Women Campaign or to the organization of your choice that helps care for animals. Or just turn on The Ten Commandments when it airs next Saturday at 7 p.m. and raise a glass of sparkling grape juice.
*note - by the time you read this, it will be too late to watch The Ten Commandments on ABC this year. You can watch it next year or enjoy via streaming or DVD.