For Jo

10:45 AM Elizabeth Seckman 25 Comments

I'm not talking about any insecurities today because today is a day to honor a lady (I will pause for a chuckle and will explain later) who never dwelled on an insecurity. Of course, she had them. In private emails, she would relay her worries and concerns, but at the end of it all there would be the Meh. The "it is what it is" approach to life that kept her active until she passed.

I always told Jo she was who I wanted to be when I grew up. All but the asparagus. I have no love for asparagus, a flaw to my character she never let me live down (that will also be explained in a bit). Jo was considerate and thoughtful. She'd read and re-read a manuscript just because she loved us- her group of wayward, often bitchy, always insecure muddle of writers. She was content editor, line editor, and proof reader. As writers, we know how hard it is to get a family member to read your story once, but Jo would read our crap at every stage of development. For nothing. 

Like I said, she loved us. We were her grands, she was our Grandmother Dragon. 

And personally, she was my friend. She never missed a birthday or a holiday. Nor did she fail to check in. She had maternal radar, though she'd never given birth. She knew exactly when to check in and say...hey, haven't heard from you lately...are things okay? She listened during hard times, offering advice, love, and virtual hugs.  

I will miss her story notes. Raw, honest Jo-ness. Above, I called Jo a lady. She'd have kicked my ass for that. Any time I called a woman a lady, she'd get in a fluster...what is it with you Americans? A lady is a title. To which, I would reply that 'merica defines a lady by her actions, not her birth. She'd remind herself and me that I was STILL an incorrigible philistine. 

Jo always wrote about asparagus. A vegetable I hate. I commented once that when I moved into my house, there was an asparagus patch in my back yard and it took me three seasons of mowing to finally be rid of it. Mortified, Jo's response was to call me a philistine. 

An insult that absolutely made my day. 

I was so tickled by her indignation, I emailed her and that started our years-long friendship. 

Over the years, she tried her best to culture me up, but I'd remind her I prefer Ramen noodles to steak. Then she'd write back-- oh yes, that's right, you're still a philistine. 

It only took me a few years to wear her down and accept that I was never going to be at home in the kitchen. I knew I'd won when she sent me a recipe with a note, "Dear Liz, here's a recipe I don't think even you could mess up."

Oh, how I miss that. How I miss her. Thoughtful, caring, sassy, and smart. That was Jo. She was a lady through and through and this philistine misses her every day. 

*This blog hop is supposed to be about sharing recipes since Jo loved to cook, but there will be no recipe here. Jo would never expect one from me and I will not disappoint her. 

Many thanks to founder Alex J. Cavanaugh and all of our co-hosts this month: Louise - Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!


  1. Interesting that you posted this today. The recipe list that I shared with Jo had a parmesan asparagus recipe. I sent it on to Sue.....

    She would have object to the timing since she truly believed it was only good in the springtime, fresh and local. Except for her pickled jars.

    Asparagus with Parmesan

    1 1/2 - 2 lbs (675 - 900 g) fresh asparagus, trimmed
    4 Tbs (60 ml) butter
    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    1 cup (250 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    Boil or steam the asparagus until tender but still a little
    under cooked. Plunge into ice water and drain. Place the
    asparagus in a lightly greased baking dish and dot with the
    butter. Season with salt and pepper and top with the
    Parmesan. Bake in a preheated 450F (230C) oven just until
    the Parmesan begins to turn light brown, about 10 to 12
    minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

    1. Jo was a lady of high standards. She expected quality from her asparagus most of all.

      Thank you for the recipe. I will replace the asparagus with broccoli. :)

  2. Hi Elizabeth - yes I can imagine the risque comments back and forth ... excellent to know about. She certainly battered us with her asparagus recipes ... I love asparagus - preferably simply served - not Jo. Your story reminds me of my uncle who 'had a wonderful garden with lots of goodies in it - one time I asked him if he had rhubarb ... I was horrified' when he said the compost heap was on top of it - he couldn't stand the stuff!! I rue that early decision in his life ... !!! Wonderful stories you've told us about Jo - all the best as you write on - stay safe too - Hilary

    1. I do love rhubarb, so I cringe with you on that one.

      Thank you, Hilary. I will write on eventually.

  3. I can hear her calling you that! Sorry Jo, I always hated asparagus as well. But she was the grandmother of all and never forgot birthdays. A super lady.

  4. I'm sharing something chocolate. Very few people hate that.

  5. What a wonderful post for a wonderful Lady...Oops...I mean woman!

    Ps. I love asparagus...philistine...

  6. I do love asparagus. Lovely tribute for Jo!

  7. A recipe even you couldn't mess up - LOL! That sounds like Jo.

  8. I've been reading lovely tributes to Jo, Elizabeth. She sounds like a remarkable person, and I'm sorry that you have lost a true and supportive friend. I don't like asparagus either. Enjoy IWSG Day!

  9. I have just moved from asparagus country, and I miss it so much.... I'm sorry I missed Jo, but I'm getting to know her through all your posts.

  10. Wonderful tribute. ( I don't like asparagus either.)

  11. What a lovely tribute to Jo. She sounds like she was a wonderful lady (see how I threw that "lady" in there) with a great sense of humor. And she loved asparagus - me too :)

  12. Your tribute made me shiver with a turmoil of feelings and emotions. You made me smile, chuckle and feel heart ache. I remember I was also dumbfounded when I read you did that to the asparagus. I, like Grandma Dragon, love them too. And I love you, philistine Liz, for that last line.

  13. What a fun story of how you met Jo. That's great that you became such good friends.

  14. What a wonderful tribute, Liz. Jo would be pleased. I'm really sorry for your loss. You guys were more than just blogging buddies.

    By the way, you recommended Frankl's book "man's Search for Meaning" a while back. Well, I bought it and read it. And loved it. So much so, I ordered copies for each of my kids, and I plan to re-read it... this time, with a highlighter pen nearby. Thank you so much.

    Take care, kiddo. And be safe.

  15. That was a lovely tribute. I'm with you on the dislike of asparagus, lol.

  16. haha sometimes insults are just better than platitudes or compliments. Sure sounds like a great person and friend.

  17. Speaking of messing up something in the kitchen, Jo ribbed me hard once for my inability to frost a cake in a presentable fashion. I couldn't fuss about it; she was absolutely correct. I always love reading your words. You have a way of making me feel like I'm sitting beside you at the fireplace enjoying a cup of hot cocoa and s'mores watching the evening wane and waiting for the sandman to drop by for his good night dusting. Your words about Jo, well, ratchet up the feels another dozen notches. Do take care!

  18. Jo was clearly a very special lady (sorry....woman lol) and you had a wonderful friendship. I absolutely loved reading this post, I think I would have liked her a lot.
    PS I love asparagus
    Suzy xxx

  19. You nailed her right on the head. She was all of those things and I feel blessed to have known her and to have been counted among her friends, as I do with you. Thanks for sharing... I miss her.

  20. This is a great tribute! Thanks for sharing.

  21. I'm sure she forgave all asparagus haters.


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