My mother did not want a book written about her after she went but when you're the undertaker there are certain privileges in writing it . . . and sometimes obituaries are written as much to help us grieve as they are to tell a story. Anyway, she won't get a book, but it won't be short either.
Let's get the important stuff out of the way first. She was the best mother in the world. I hear that a lot. And you know what? . . . it's always true for every family that says it.
Dorothy McKenna was born in her grandmother's home in Arlington on January 18, 1926, the third of seven children born to the late Edward L. and Irene A. (O'Keefe) McKenna. Her father was a phone company man and his job brought the McKenna's to Harding Avenue in Waltham when she was an infant.
She went to the Bright School with her sisters and brothers and they'd walk home for lunch every day. She said it was almost always a baked potato and pudding and the way that she described the delicious way that her mother made it, you'd think it was just shy of a roast beef dinner. Dot graduated from Waltham High in 1944, at the height of World War II, and that's the same year that her father, Ed, a WW I Army veteran died of cancer. That was a hard blow for her family. But they were Irish. They were always o.k.
After high school she worked for a time at Cronin's and for the phone company, almost all the McKenna's took their turn at the phone company, before landing a job in the assessor's office at Waltham City Hall.
In the late 40's she started dating Bob Joyce, a year older than her and a Navy corpsman during the war. He started working with his father at their funeral parlor after he got out of the service in 1946. The pair married in Saint Mary's Church on June 10, 1950. They really loved each other and made Waltham their lifelong home where Dot became a full time wife and mother. That was really her calling.
In 1958 the family moved across the street from Saint Jude Church where Dot became active in parish life. She belonged to the Ladies Sodality and attending Mass and Wednesday Novena's were a regular and expected part of family life. Holidays were huge . . . Christmas and Easter at the house created lifelong memories for generations of her family.
The other thing that created cherished memories were Sunday dinners when her kids were young and Tuesday dinners at Grandma's with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In February, 1979 Dot endured tragedy again when her husband Bob died suddenly of a heart attack when the two were on vacation in Florida. Widowed at fifty-three she became president of the funeral home company and held that position until she retired when she was seventy. She met her fate the same way that she'd done it before . . . with strength, courage and a huge dose of faith. Experience can be a hard teacher.
After her grandchildren started arriving she really had a new lease on life. She loved going shopping with her sister Eleanor and any number of the kids who were around. Coupon days at Bradlee's and Filene's not only meant a new outfit but also a trip to Friendly's.
She never missed a birthday party or Christmas show or a Grandparent's Day at Saint Jude's. She loved seeing the kids and the feeling was mutual. Summers meant going 'down the Cape' to her house where it seemed there were always people coming and going. She set herself up on the porch and loved keeping up with all the family news and what was happening 'back home'.
Dot also loved her sisters and brothers and they all got along like in a movie. In later years brother Billy became the driver and Friday nights meant dinner at O'Hara's or at the Chateau followed by a pot of coffee and a penny card game around the dining room table. Her sister Martha was the Christmas Tree expert on the Cape where the crew spent many happy evenings finding another great buy.
Life, love, faith, family and friendships were the hallmarks of her life. She was fiercely loyal and loving but, being an Irish mother, also knew how to hand out advice in a way that made it hard to negotiate. Family, she knew, was just like music . . . some high notes . . . some low notes . . . but always a beautiful song.
Dorothy Irene (McKenna) Joyce died on Monday, December 21, 2020 at Maristhill Nursing Home in Waltham following a period of declining health. She was 94.
In addition to her parents waiting for her in heaven, were her husband, Robert E. Joyce; her grandson, Jeffrey D. O'Neil and her sisters and brothers, Eleanor V. Kavaleski, Margaret A. Coen, William J. McKenna, Edward L. McKenna, Jr., M. Ruth Forster and Martha E. Marinoni.
She leaves her children, Barbara A. MacIntyre of Maynard, Martha M. Cronin of Watertown, Maura E. O'Neil (David) of North Reading, Francis J. Joyce (Kathleen) of Waltham and D. Justine Ryan (Thomas) of Darien, Connecticut; her grandchildren, Anne E. MacIntyre (Elliot Bruce), Maj. Robert P. Cronin, USMC, Meghan J. Wilson (Michael), Peter W. O'Neil, Ashley J. O'Neil, Robert E. Joyce, James M. Joyce, John F. Joyce (Krista), Katelyn M. Joyce, Jacqueline M. Joyce, Connor T. Ryan, Taylor M. Ryan and Casey M. Ryan; her great-grandchildren, Michaela, Garrett and Cameran Wilson and Harper Joyce and many nieces, nephews and their families.
Family and friends will honor and remember Dorothy's life by gathering for calling hours in The Joyce Funeral Home, 245 Main Street (Rte. 20), Waltham on Wednesday, December 30th from 4 to 7 p.m. Her Funeral Mass in Saint Jude Church and burial in Calvary Cemetery, Waltham will be private.
Those who would like to view Dorothy's Mass may do so via this link at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning: https://my.gather.app/remember/dorothy-i-joyce
Memorial donations may be made to The Michael Lisnow Respite Center, 112 Main Street, Hopkinton, MA 01748. www.hopkintonrespite.com
"Keep the faith" . . . and Merry Christmas Mom!
Tuesday, December 22, 2020 – a note from the funeral home pursuant to Governor Baker's recent order:
During times of uncertainty and crisis one might wonder what to do at the loss of a loved one or how to show support to a friend given the limitations that the pandemic continues to present.
Telephone your friend to offer words of love, support and a verbal hug, drop something delicious by the house, leave a condolence on the funeral home website, make a donation to their favored charity, send a card or flowers or have a Mass said, remain in touch, and above all else . . . say prayers for the deceased and their family and the world during this difficult and unprecedented time.
These simple gifts of sympathy and charity are more valuable than you will ever know.
When public wakes are held capacity limits mean that your visit to the funeral home should be brief to allow other guests time to say hello to the family. Only members of the immediate family remain present throughout.
It goes without saying that people who have lost someone are especially sensitive and understanding to the concerns that some of their own family members and friends may have about visiting any public places right now. If this does not feel like the right time for you to venture out please don't.
Space limitations also mean that funeral services inside the funeral home and in many places of worship will also be private. Most services, at the family's request, will also be livestreamed and recorded for future viewing. The link to access the channel is found at the bottom of the obituary notice online.
Cemetery services are included in the current outdoor gathering limit of twenty-five people.
During any events, public or private, common sense precautions prevail. That includes masks covering your nose and mouth, staying with your household group throughout the services and keeping a sensible distance.
Thank you . . . again . . . for your patience and understanding.