Remembering Joyce Griffin

June 28, 2013
August 11th 1950 - June 28th 2013

August 11th 1950 – June 28th 2013

Most everyone I know had that one relative who had a big impact in their life. It was either an uncle at the farm or a grandmother in an apartment. It may have been a cousin who was a few years older and took them under their wing. For me it was my Aunt Joyce, my father’s sister.

This morning my Aunt Joyce went to be with her Lord, Jesus. It’s been just over twenty years since her only (at the time) son, Jason, went to be with Jesus. Today a great reunion took place in heaven. A mother and her son were reunited, undoubtedly embracing and shrouded in new bodies, something they both needed desperately, something we all need desperately.

I’m thankful that I have deep and vivid memories of my Aunt Joyce. She was my English Comp teacher in high school my senior year. I vividly remember her looking into my eyes and telling me, “You should go to college and become a teacher. You would be good at it.” It felt kind of funny for her to tell me that. I always saw myself as a cabinet guy. I grew up around kitchen cabinets, and I just assumed that was what I would do with my life. My aunt saw much more. She saw a spiritual leader. She saw a teacher, and she saw a writer. These were all things she told me more than once.

My Aunt Joyce had been in and out of the hospital quite a bit over the last few years. A couple of weeks ago she took a turn for the worse. She ended up on a ventilator and was unconscious for about a week. During that week I commented to Julie that I had not gotten a chance to share with her how much she had influenced me. Thankfully, last Thursday she got strong enough to be taken off of the ventilator, and she was able to communicate just a little. Julie and I stopped by to visit her this last Tuesday evening, and we got to have what would be our final conversation.

“You saw something in me nobody else ever saw”, I told her. “Twenty-four years ago you told me that I should be a teacher. I have found that calling now. Every Sunday for the last year I have been teaching a men’s Sunday school class at my church. You spoke prophetically to me. You were the only one who saw what I could be, not where I thought I was headed.”

She nodded her head knowingly and asked me, “What have you been learning from Andy Stanley?” She had to repeat it several times before I could understand what she was saying. She was quite familiar with how big an impact Andy has had on my spirituality. I shared a few details from the current series I am teaching on Sunday mornings, and she nodded in approval. In the forty years I have known my aunt she has turned every conversation we have ever had towards our relationship with Christ. She was a deeply spiritual woman.

I have barely scratched the surface of how special she was to me, but I can hardly see through the tears pouring from my eyes, so I will leave you with the scripture verse that best describes her.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

James Dibben


10 responses to Remembering Joyce Griffin

  1. James, you did so well putting into words what Joyce’s life was all about. I don’t know of anyone that came in contact with Joyce that wasn’t affected in a positive way. She brought out the best in others and always left you feeling encouraged. She will be greatly missed.

  2. James you said it so well and John’s reply is perfect. I spoke to her on 11-24-12 and our last words were “I love you” “I love you, too.” That’s going to have to do until I see her again.

  3. Great tribute, my friend. She was right. You’ve made a good writer.

  4. She was an amazing mother too. We had our ups and downs, but she always saw the best in me. She did help my relationship with Christ grow; as that bloomed over the last several years, so did our relationship. She taught me how to be still and calm in Christ. She kept telling me how proud I have made her by becoming a woman in Christ and also a mother. As I visited her just last week I had to tell her, “Mom, I am a good mother because I had one!” I will always carry her wisdom with me. I love you mom and miss you already! There isn’t enough time or paper to tell you how great you impacted people’s lives.

    • Probably what made Aunt Joyce an amazing teacher was her ability to speak hope and possibility into the lives of her students. She was a master at it and didn’t save it just for her students or just for her family.

      She saw everyone the same. That, above all else, is what made her unique.

  5. Perfectly said James!