It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our Mom, Joy Janssens (Anderson), on November 16, 2021, at the age of 78.
Joy was born in Winnipeg, MB to Helen Pauline Linnell and Thomas Victory Cole, both of Elkhorn, MB. After some consideration and through the financial support of Joy’s father, her mother chose to give her up for adoption. Edward and Anne Anderson, who lived just down the road in Virden, adopted her and brought her home to her beloved brother Eddie.
The two of them grew up with ample freedom and summers at the lake cottage, which fuelled a sense of adventure in Joy that would take her all over western Canada in her lifetime. She had little fear as evidenced by her habit of climbing pump jacks to ride them just for fun.
Her family later moved to Victoria, BC, where Joy attended high school. She was beautiful and adventurous, and she drew the attention of many love-struck would-be suitors. The attention was a welcome change from her very proper and often unaffectionate upbringing, and at 19 she discovered she was pregnant with her first daughter – sired by a dead-beat brother of a friend. Joy was ecstatic to be having a baby of her own to love. She took a nanny position in New Westminster to try to set things up for life with her daughter, Belinda.
While living in the Vancouver area, Joy met one of her dearest lifelong friends, Audrey. They shared an independent streak, coupled with a whole lot of stubbornness. She and Audrey, newly divorced with a young son, became roommates, which led to life-changing adventures. One fateful day Audrey, unhappy at work and tired of her malicious ex-husband, came home from work and said, “That’s it! I’m moving to the Yukon!” to which Joy replied, “OK!”. They packed up a little Cortina with their two children, pets, and any belongings they could fit and headed up the Alaska Highway. Joy got to the Yukon in 1969. From the moment she arrived, she knew she was home.
A few years later, through her job at the Whitehorse Copper Mine she met a “good man” who enjoyed the outdoors, 4x4ing, fishing as much as she did and who loved her deeply; so, they tied the knot. Joe Janssens was the father of “her second litter”: Tanya, Meghan, Amanda and Michael, who were all born in the span of 7 years.
On weekends, mom would pack up the whole family and we would l head to Atlin to go fishing, roam free and visit friends at the Rec Centre. Later mom and dad divorced and weekend adventures with Mom would shift to Yukon campgrounds, mostly focusing on Kusawa Lake.
Mom was an excellent seamstress and prided herself in her meticulous creations. She was exceptionally talented and creative. Staying up all night to meet deadlines, making costumes for skating carnivals and competitions, Halloween, and dance recitals.
Later in life mom told us that her life purpose was to be a mother. She was deeply involved in the raising of three generations, including her granddaughter Alicia and great-granddaughters Cheyenne and Keauna. She worked for the City of Whitehorse for over 30 years in the Building Department, into her 70’s to be able to provide for them. She had a sense of pride in how independent all her children turned out.
Mom was an appreciator of fine goods and shopping was her happy place. As she got older and less mobile, online shopping became her Mecca. She subscribed to numerous mailing lists and catalogues. Spending hours looking for perfect gifts or excellent scores on the Buy and Sell.
Christmas was one of her favourite times of the year, because it brought two of her loves together, shopping and children. Presenting gifts was her love language. She would stay up most of the night on Christmas Eve wrapping every gift, including all the little stocking trinkets individually for all her children. On Christmas morning, it would be tough to get her up, but if the coffee was on, she would throw on her robe and come to revel in all the excitement.
In 2017, one night she stopped for her favourite Chinese food. Leaving with her coveted meal, she slipped on the ice and broke her hip. She was medevacked to Edmonton, where three of her daughters descended upon her to rally for her health. It was a long road to recovery, but in true Joy fashion, with sheer will and stubbornness, she was up and walking within months.
Late in life, mom discovered her biological family, thanks to a membership to Ancestry and some key DNA matches. Shortly afterwards, at 76 years of age, despite cataracts, floods, and good judgment, she headed out for a 7000 km round trip journey to meet her new-found siblings and cousins on both her biological father’s and mother’s side. She was so thankful that she took that trip right before world travel shut down and her health took a turn.
In 2020, mom was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that she had most likely unknowingly been battling for many years. Despite her family’s attempts to line up care, mom’s fierce independence and desire to remain in her own home prevailed and she managed to stay on her own, with her fur babies to the end. Just weeks before her passing, she bought a motorhome intending to travel to all the Yukon campgrounds and enjoy more adventures. Mom passed away at her home with her independence intact. She would not have had it any other way.
Left to mourn are her children Belinda Janssens, Tanya Brewster (Jeff), Meghan Woytenko (Darren) Amanda Janssens (Keir Hyde), Michael Janssens; her grandchildren Alicia Kirby, Brianna, Katelyn, Andrea, Makenna, Tia Brewster, Reid, Nathan, Gavin, Morgan Woytenko, Jo, Dottie, Millie Hyde, Ryder, Lily Janssens; and great Grandchildren Cheyenne and Keauna Kirby.
Joy was predeceased by her dear brother Eddie; adoptive father and mother Edward and Anne Anderson; birth parents Hellen Linnell and Thomas Cole; and dear friends Audrey Taylor and Joanne Lechmann.
We would like to thank the doctors and nurses who cared for mom over the last few years. Your care, respect and compassion for mom made all the difference in her journey and we are forever grateful.
In accordance with mom’s wishes, we will have a small, family-based celebration of life next summer.
We love you, momma.