It’s over now. And what a battle it was. With Aubrey and your children at your side on and       on you fought. This pill, that pill, more chemo, another chemo, and all along – you never lost your spirits. No matter how ill or weak you felt, there was always tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a better day.

It’s winter now. Soon the wild flowers will be out – anemones, cyclamen, tulips, irises. We’d promised each other we’d go and see them again this year. When you had to miss yet another concert, yet another dance performance – you who never wanted to miss anything in life, I’d remind you of the wild flowers. “Yes! We’ll go and see the flowers!” your voice, sometimes weak these days, would perk up cheerfully.

Throughout, you never lost your warm caring or your interest in life and others. You went on collecting articles you’d read and thought would be of interest to me. You never forgot to ask after the little ailments of others. Too weak to stand, you would be in the kitchen making Bolognaise for your little granddaughter whose hemoglobin was low and this was the only meat she loves. You never ceased to enjoy the family gatherings. Giddy’s visit with Michel a couple of weeks ago gave you such pleasure. Aub and the children always came first. You are a devoted family.

On better days you’d be out in your garden. Stella, my dear, I’ve been to some of the most celebrated gardens in the world, but nowhere have I seen the likes of your torrent of purple fuchsias, your spilling bushes of pink begonia, the scores of huge crimson amaryllis, “it’s almost obscene”, you’d say, the gardenias and camellias and red roses and more and more. It was as if the plants could feel all that joy of life of yours pouring into them and responded in kind.

The little I know about plants and flowers I’ve learnt from you. “When a flower in a bouquet wilts, cut it under water”, you taught me. I do and it almost never fails. The dying flower revives. But nothing could revive you, the rarest flower of them all. The disease was relentless – I am married to the mob” you’d say, “once they get you they don’t let go…”

It’s Chanukah now. When a few days ago we talked of the possibility of your coming to our traditional Chanukah party, you said: “Perhaps a miracle will happen!”

It’s over now. I have lost a dear beloved friend. “Each that we lose takes part of us” wrote Emily Dickinson. What a heritage you leave to your children and grandchildren, what an example for all of us. With Aub and the family and all the many who loved you I grieve and miss you sorely. Thank you, my dear Stella, for having been with us.

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Victoria Mclemore
I lived with the Joffe's as a nanny for around 2 years in 1973/5, Stella was a most wonderful person as was her husband Aubrey and all 4 of her children. I was googling their names to see if I could find any of them. I'm from the UK but I now live in the USA. The family had a profound impact on my life and I will always be grateful to them for the security they offered me. I'm now a grandmother myself.

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