The family of Joy Anderson, one of the 20 who died in the Flight 823 crash on Rikers island Feb. 1, 1957, held a 50th anniversary memorial that was also a celebration of her life. It took place on Feb. 4, 2007 in Georgetown, Ontario at the Hillcrest United Church and at the Ashgrove Cemetery where she is buried. Joy Anderson grew up a couple of miles up the road from the church and a couple of hundred yards from the cemetery. After the memorial celebration, the group gathered for refreshments that included a "Celebrate Our Joy" cake (above). Jean Anderson, one of Joy’s three daughters, has asked this web site to post the poem she wrote that was read at the memorial services attended by more than 35 people.
We are honored and pleased to accede to her request.
By Jean Anderson
By a quiet knoll on Ashgrove Hill,
beats faithfully a heart that was never stilled.
Fifty years have come and gone,
and yet this loving heart beats on.
On the first day of February’s blast,
a mother’s dreams died; night fall’s crash.
On an isolated island off
Her plane ascended but more quickly - plunged down
Fire and smoke and screams of panic,
filled the fuselage as passengers scrambled,
to flee for their lives, a prayer in hand,
each clutching the other as they leapt to the ground.
Cold and furious blew the ice packing winds that night,
disabling the efforts of those who might –
have normally rescued the helpless there –
but here intervenes the mercy of prayer!
The prison Warden of Riker’s Isle,
Makes the decision to open his jail.
Outpour some very brave and selfless heroes,
who tackle the impossible mission of rescue.
Gathering the shocked and burnt and bleeding,
into their arms and gently leading
those who could walk or talk or cry
to the shelter spontaneously provided nearby.
Dad is blown away as the fuselage explodes
into the ice and the blowing snow.
Quickly comes a Hercules of Angelic compassion
and swings Dad over his shoulder in an effortless fashion.
Mom died mercifully, unconscious at the last,
as her sweet earthly essence was to the fiery furnace cast.
For Dad, months of hospital and surgery to rebuild,
not only the flesh but the rawest wound still –
Joy had flown to another realm,
Would she ever return to her grieving clan?
Fifty years later the community has gathered
to shed their tears over this tragedy that happened.
Yet, now much more importantly to proclaim,
that Joy does indeed grace her grateful domain.
Yes, thanksgiving for Dad who struggled on
and then met and married our present day Mom,
who is owed a debt of loving praise yet unpaid.
She accepted the tear stained reins, from
Dad’s hands where they lay,
and guided five, then six and yes seven
children to maturity today!
Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles endearing
Cousins and friends who expressed
their love through sharing.
Today the grandchildren anticipate with daring
to love in another generation broad in their sharing.
So welcome to one and welcome all,
to the celebration of Joy in us all!