The word ‘joy’ brings a sweet memory
of a woman given two names at birth:
… her parents were expecting a boy
… the root of which is ‘sorrow.’

Gene Dolores
… not the greatest of names for a sweet little baby girl
who loved life, loved to laugh and loved to dance.

Raised in poverty, Gene Dolores had to leave school
at twelve to work and help support her family.
Serious health issues brought complications throughout her life.
It would have been easy for her to dwell on her misfortunes
and live life out the fullness of the meaning of her middle name.

she chose to live a life of joy.
A gifted dancer, she appeared on Broadway
and danced with many stars-of-the-day.
Ray Bolger was one of many
but he was the first
to recognize the “joy-within” her.

And so, Ray Bolger named her “Joy.”
When he signed this photo of the two of them in one of their scenes on Broadway
he wrote: “To Joy … “

“Joy does not simply happen to us” wrote Henri Nouwen.
“We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day”

Oh Mr. Nouwen, you are so right!
Joy Renault (her stage name) chose joy.
She made a choice to find joy in some thing, some person, some experience
and she became known as Joy
professionally and personally.

There are times when ‘life’ intervenes
… when happiness may be evasive.

But even in those moments,
joy is there for us
to choose.

Unlike happiness
… a feeling
joy is a choice
… a decision.

Joy Renault
… wonderful teacher
… wonderful mother.
I try to honour her memory
by following her example of
“Choosing Joy!”

This photo of my mother and Ray Bolger
is a treasured memory as are Bolger’s words:
   To “Joy”  
   Here’s hoping I’m not too presumptuous.  Best always.  Ray Bolger”

Photo and Text © June Maffin

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