I wanted to break away from wishing a happy birthday on this Mother’s Day to recognize a woman, who should probably have her photo next to the word “Mom” in the dictionary. She was certainly one of the most remarkable Mom’s in the history of Amsterdam.
My first real exposure to her Mom skills occurred in the late 1970’s when I was still the father of only two and I used to walk them down to the playground equipment that was then located at the Sirchia Park on Guy Park Avenue. I’d be working up a sweat alternating between pushing my five year old on a swing and making sure my crazy three-year-old hung onto the merry-go-round-thing and suddenly her station wagon would pull up. Out would pop about eight or nine kids and Joanne Davey. It reminded me of a mini D-Day invasion. Each little Davey knew exactly where they were headed in the playground and which other little Davey they were responsible for, while Joanne would take a seat on a nearby bench, from where she’d supervise them all, perhaps holding an infant and every once in a while calling out some sort of warning or instruction. She never yelled in anger or seemed flustered in any way. When it was time to go, she’d give some sort of verbal signal and magically, they’d all stop what they were doing, run up the steps back to Guy Park Ave, get back in their station wagon and disappear.
Joanne’s husband was Jack Davey, an Amsterdam native who had been a high school sports star for St. Mary’s Institute before becoming a teacher. Their union produced sixteen children, and since my four kids went to the same schools as her’s, I got to see many of them grow up. Her parenting skills were legendary. I remember the daily morning pandemonium in our household, getting just four kids through the bathroom, dressing, breakfast, don’t forget your lunch, homework check and get to school routines. Yet each Davey child showed up for school every morning looking like they stepped out of a Gap for Kids catalog. If you asked any of their teachers what sorts of students they were, you’d always hear you’d always hear the term respectful included in the description.
My sister-in-law taught many of Joanne’s sons and daughters and told me the staff at Bacon School eagerly looked forward to having “a Davey kid” in their class. She would often remark how involved Joanne was in each of her children’s educations. You know what’s even more amazing? Joanne Davey was a full-time registered nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital here in Amsterdam. Those who worked with her have told me she was one of the very best at her profession and the fact that she was made Supervisor of Nursing there underscores the accuracy of their praises.
I still remember the shock that swept through this community eleven years ago when the news of Joanne’s sudden and unexpected death became public. She was only 61 years old. It was just impossible to believe that this beautiful, talented, energetic soul was gone.
I’m sure every Mother’s Day since has been difficult for Joanne’s family. My own Mom has been gone for 29 years and I still miss her every single day. So on this Mother’s Day, I send my best wishes to the Davey family and remind them that their dear Mom was truly an inspiration to an entire community.
I also wish every Amsterdam Mom past and present a glorious Mother’s Day. Some of my best memories growing up in this place involved not just my own Mom but also the wonderful Moms of so many of my friends. Their great cooking, their rides to wherever we had to go, their wise advice, their warm hearts… where would we be without our Mom’s?