We got a new computer for family use Christmas 1996, a nice Micron that we could all use for school work, family newsletters and things… Shortly after my boys, all three of them, started bugging me to get the internet. Well I knew better, the internet was an evil thing and there was nothing on the internet that we needed in our home, I said no way. In April 1997 the evil internet came to our home, and my whole world changed.
One day before the kids went to school Jonathon sat me down at the computer and put it on the internet. He told me to type in http (what?) semicolon (two dots or dot and comma?) something else then Yahoo.com which I did. Then he said to type in quilt in the empty space at the top of the page and then he ran out the door to catch the bus. There were several million choices that came up, and I think I was still sitting there when they came home from school that afternoon.
One place I found almost that first day (it might have even been that first day) was a fabric store called Fabric Stash. While looking at the web page and trying to figure out why in the world someone would buy fabric on line, I noticed on the left hand side of the page something called CHAT….
I knew better than to reveal any personal information, and I knew I should not use my “real” name, so I went in as a pet name John had given me the day we met. I was amazed to find some very friendly people (or so they seemed) in there who immediately started asking me personal questions, like where was I from, etc. I didn’t answer any of those questions, so they stopped asking, and went back to quilt talk. I tried not to say anything, but they asked me about my quilting, and … and…. well I was hooked.
After a week or so of this chatting thing I started noticing the same people were in there often, and I kept a log so I would remember things about each person. T from NY, Dee was from NY, CraftyLady lived in WI Fab was in Washington, Fas was in Colorado and many more. Pansey, Peachy and Wizard, I could go on and on. One such person was Irishga who I learned was from Yukon, and I admitted I had no idea where that was. She helped me open a map (right in line while I was still chatting with her, imagine that) and showed me where she lived. I asked her if she was Irish and she said lol and I had to ask what that meant and said no and explained her name…. sorry I forget what it was now, but her “real” name was JoAnne. I think she may have been the first person to actually tell me her “real” name.
I stopped chatting a few years later and started conversations in some group site, which eventually became Yahoo. Irishga showed up in a couple of the groups I was in and we continued our on line friendship. She joined the Mysteries For Relay group and our friendship grew and grew. Recently JoAnne was sick a lot, and they discovered what they thought was cancer in her stomach and lungs. Her battle inspired me to work harder to find the cure, and gave me a whole new way of thinking about cancer treatments.
In my part of the world people drive to the local cancer center, get their treatments and drive (or are driven) home. I’ve heard people complain how hard it is, and have seen the misery in person when my sister-in-law Cheri was fighting it. JoAnne lived thousands of miles from her cancer treatment center. She had to catch a small plane to a larger airport, then get on another plane, arriving at her cancer center at least 24 hours before her treatment, then had to stay 24 hours or more after the treatments and then flew home, one plane then another and then the long ride home.
Sadly JoAnne has just lost her battle with cancer. No more long plane rides, no more suffering, but sadly, no more emails or chats with JoAnne. I can’t even begin to say how much I will miss her.