Pre-script: Don't freak out, Mom. It's just Shan's writing assignment.
"And you want to travel with her
You want to travel blind
And you know she will find you
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind"
- Leonard Cohen, 'Suzanne'
We are gathered here to remember Jo and to celebrate her life.
People knew her as a person full of contradictions. Most notably, she thrived on excitement and adventure, but yet was a devoted homebody who loved nothing more than a comfy spot on the sofa, knitting project in her lap, and a Baileys on the rocks within reach.
A precocious child, she was an old woman even as a little girl. Her paternal grandmother gave her a leather bound copy of Louisa May Alcott's _Little Women_ as a young child because she was such a 'little woman', all prim and proper. This gift sparked a love of long books and from that point forward Jo was rarely found without her nose in a book. This was not always a good thing; on a number of occasions her mother accused her of being anti-social because Jo would rather read alone in her room than interact with her family.
A competitive athlete who always played to win, she participated on many sports teams, including field hockey, soccer, volleyball, and softball. Through these adventures she sustained a number of injuries, including multiple concussions, a cracked pelvic bone, and most regrettably, torn cartilage in her knee which barred her from further competition. Later in life she grew to enjoy less competitive (and equally less injury-prone) sports such as cycling and swimming. Despite this love of sport, Jo struggled with her weight her entire life and became a firm believer in health and strength at any size.
She was a person who loved school and took joy in learning something new everyday. After graduating from high school, Jo had her pick of universities across Canada and the US, and chose the University of Victoria for its programs and location. She began her post-secondary career in Pre-Med but later changed majors and graduated with a degree in Applied Linguistics. During her sojourn at UVic, Jo wrote a great deal and had many pieces published in local publications and anthologies.
Her first job after university took her across the Pacific Ocean to live and work in Japan. She lived there for three years and it was then that she met (and married) her husband, Andrew. The two of them loved living in Japan and always dreamed of returning. They had their only child, Willow, a few years later after they had returned to the US and Andrew had graduated from law school. Willow was the brightest spark in Jo's heart and she loved her daughter more than all the stars in the sky.
In the late 90s Jo left her career in education to work for a biotech company. She thrived in her new job - the combination of detective work, political wranglings, and math made for exciting work. She always wanted her experience to be a lesson to other people - to not put your eggs in one basket when it comes to your education - because you never know where you will end up!
Jo was many things: a fierce competitor yet someone who learned to not wear her heart on her sleeve, a loving wife who occasionally threw writing instruments at her husband in frustration, an over-protective mama yet one who always urged her daughter to stand up for herself, someone who knew reason and still, inexplicably, would not heed it. She liked being a book not easily read.