It’s been 3 years since our friend Joanne Mackay passed away. This is a revision of a blog entry I composed right after I received news of her death.
Why, Why, Why?
I ask myself this all the time when I get the news of someone from the neighborhood that has passed away.
When that person is 43 years of age, I shake my head; 43 is way too young to die.
You still have half of your life to live.
One of the sweetest girls I knew growing up in Windsor Terrace left us 3 years ago this week. She is gone but not forgotten.
(Thanks to Helen Cole for these images)
I first met Joanne Mackay when we were both 12 years old. I used to hang out on Windsor Place between 9th and 10th avenue with the Cullen’s who lived right down the street from her.
Joanne and I both had Mr. Civello as our sixth grade teacher at Holy Name; it was the first year the catholic school went co-ed.
Joanne was always laughing and always smiling. Her cheeks would turn beat-red when she was laughing. She had a glowing personality.
If you knew Joanne, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’m not sure if I should reveal this bit of information…but what the heck!
I had a crush on Joanne at the age of 12.
We used to talk to each other during school, out in the schoolyard or on the street. I’d see her around the neighborhood and always say hello. To be honest, I was intimidated by her.
I always became nervous when talking to her.
I’d walk away thinking to myself, ‘way to go schmuck, you really screwed that up’!
In the 8th grade we went on our annual class trip to Great Adventure in New Jersey. All four classes boarded charter buses in the morning and to my surprise, Joanne sat in the open seat next to me.
It turned out to be a great day.
I’d often see Joanne sitting on her stoop petting a small dog. If I was coming or going from the Cullen’s I’d always say hi. Some nights I’d stop and chat with her for a bit.
One day while we were talking a guy pulled up in a nice car and Joanne said she had to go. I watched her jump off the stoop and jog over to the car. I later found out it was her boyfriend.
I was both jealous and crushed, I chalked it up in the loss column. To be honest, Joanne was out of my league.
Throughout my teen years my friends and I hung out in Prospect Park. I recall in the summertime for a few consecutive nights Joanne hung out with us; she was classmates with some of the O.L.P.H. girls that hung out with us. It was great seeing her; I really thought all along she belonged in our circle of friends, she was just like us.
After a couple of hours of hanging out and it was time to go home, Joanne and I would walk across 9th avenue together; she’d hang a left down Windsor and I’d cross the avenue and head upstairs.
One night we were hanging out and Joanne didn’t show up. I never did know why Joanne stopped hanging out with us.
Oftentimes coming out of the Subway on Windsor Place I’d peek down towards her stoop to see if she was outside. Or to be honest, I’d walk down Windsor to see if I’d run into her. I never told Joanne how I felt about her. So I’ll take this time now, and maybe, just maybe she is reading Container Diaries.
“Joanne, you were one of the nicest people I ever met. Your smile was infectious and your laugh was heard all over the neighborhood. You touched a lot of people. You had so much vigor, so much enthusiasm. I wish you would’ve kept hanging out with us in the park as teenagers. Joanne, I miss you.”
I composed a blog entry about the small, black, 8th grade autograph books with the zipper and all. I was lucky enough to have Joanne write something very nice inside my book.
The Mackay’s were a very nice family. I played basketball with Billy. There was also John, James and Joanne’s twin brother Michael who passed away from cancer at an early age. Michael was the salt of the earth. I remember in the second grade I didn’t know the answer to a question on a test, Michael sat across from me and I looked over at his paper to copy off of him.
This week as we look back at a wonderful girl, a girl who used to tease me because she was 4 days older than me; thoughts and prayers go out to Joanne’s family.
Joanne, I will never forget you; you were a very special friend.
Joanne Mackay, R.I.P.
June 3, 1964 – April 3, 2008.