Mary Joan Moutoux

April 19, 1941- February 18, 2006

This is Joni's last school picture, taken in the 2004-2005 school year. She worked at Oldham County High School as an assistant teacher in the Physical Education Department. She loved her job, her co-workers, and the students. An article in the school newspaper praised "Ms. Mo," as the students affectionately called her, as "a kind, caring, selfless individual who always had a positive attitude." Her husband and children could not agree more.
In one of her last pictures, taken about three months before her death, Joni shows her characteristic smile. At this point, her small intestine was completely occluded; she had a tube from her stomach to an external bag, and her only substantial nourishment was intravenous. She accepted her condition without complaint or self-pity.

Joni, we miss you more than words can say.


Here's hoping we meet again in a better place!


The following words appear on the dedication page of my book Diagramming Step by Step:


This book is dedicated to


Mary Joan (Joni) Moutoux,


my wife of 41 years,

who died on February 18, 2006.

Her kindness and optimism inspired those around her.

She was, still is, and always will be

the love of my life.


"Put one foot in front of the other

And soon you´ll be walkin´ ´cross the floor."

- Jules Bass, "Santa Claus is Comin´ to Town"


This is the last sentence of Diagramming Step by Step. The book is dedicated to my wife, Joni.

It is a fact greatly to be wondered at and abundantly to be praised that no man on his wedding day, his mind enraptured by his bride’s beauty and filled with thoughts of love, has ever taken a second to consider that, some years hence, he may be standing at the bedside of his dying wife, whose breathing has become erratic and for whom death is only minutes away, and yet, 41 years after his wedding, a grieving husband watches as his wife, the mother of his three children, the anchor of their family, whose cancer has made it necessary for her to receive all nourishment intravenously for the past five months, takes a final deep breath, after which he waits a minute, two minutes for another breath, knowing that none will follow and that he has lost the greatest treasure he has ever had and can ever expect to have--the woman to whom (you may have guessed) this book has been gratefully and lovingly dedicated.

Holding Hands

On our first date,

I took her hand.

It felt perfect in mine.

We walked that day,

Hand in hand,

Through an ordinary shopping mall.


Hand in hand,

We walked together for 42 years.


On a sidewalk,

Along a beach,

On a country road,

Across a parking lot to a restaurant,

A store, or a school--

Whenever we walked side by side,

Her hand reached for mine

Or mine for hers.


On our dresser we kept an inexpensive statuette--

It is still there today,

A treasure with which I shall not part--

Of characters resembling Linus and Sally

Walking and holding hands.

At the bottom are the words

Love is walking hand in hand.

For me this is a truism.


Two weeks before her death,

We walked hand in hand

From our car to the emergency room.

It was the last time we walked together.


A Wedding Ring

She didn’t want a diamond,

Just a simple wedding band.

And so it was.

She wore the gold ring,


For 41 years.


I wear it now,

On my little finger.

I took it from her hand

When she died.

She knew I would.


The ring will stay on my finger

Until I die

As a reminder

Of her magnificent spirit--

Of her loyalty,



And courage;

Of her kindness,


And gentleness;

Of her love.


I hope that when I die,

My children take the ring

From my hand

And display it proudly.

May it pass to their children

And to their children’s children,

So that generations of descendents

Preserve the memory of the woman

Whom I was blessed to call my wife.



I talk to her each evening, in bed, before I fall asleep.

She does not answer me, nor have I seen her

In the seven months since death took her from me.

I do not expect to see her or hear her again--

Not in this life,

And who knows what happens after that?

Each night I wonder if she hears me.

I tell her what the day has brought,

About my plans for the next.

I thank her for marrying me,

Loving me,

Not leaving me;

For beautiful children and grandchildren.

I tell her news of neighbors, friends, and family.

I reason that,

If she can hear me,

She must know these things already.

Still I tell her.

Sometimes I ask her to forgive me

For the times I was unfaithful--

No, I have no secret scarlet letter,

But lesser infidelities can be as bad.

I open my arms

And enfold them about her,

Or about empty air.

Two evenings ago I danced with her wedding dress--

An exercise I shall repeat

For it was one of the best dances of my life.

When I sit at my desk,

I see her framed picture before me.

How often I have picked it up,

Kissed it,

Held it close to my heart.

In bed I tell her that I love her

And hope to be with her again someday,

In a happy place,


If all goes as planned, our ashes will lie together

On a Colorado mountainside.

But I yearn for a conscious reunion.

Each night I end with simple words

That have more meaning now

Than ever they did when she was alive:

Good night.


The World According to Joni . . .

After 41 years of marriage, I think I can accurately articulate some of Joni's ideas about living:

Within reason, tell children they are what you want them to become. Place children on pedestals and they will try hard to deserve their lofty status.

What is important is not what people believe but what they do. The thought that some people are refused entry into heaven because they don’t profess a particular faith was repulsive to her.

Beyond essentials, money cannot buy happiness. Joni was just as happy living in a small married-student apartment as she was in a much larger house.

Clothes do not make the person, nor does make-up. She bought very few clothes for herself and wore little make-up.

It accomplishes nothing to worry about things over which one has no control. A positive attitude is a large part of happiness.

Choice of friends should be based on character, not on skin color. Two of Joni’s very best friends were black.

We should all respect nature. She loved hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.

Daydreaming may be second best to the real thing, but it beats the heck out of frustration and bitterness. Joni was an ardent daydreamer.

By becoming good listeners, people can help other people work out their problems. Joni was a good listener. She spoke very little about herself.

Generosity begins at home. Parents and grandparents should give generously to their children. Joni loved to look through catalogues for just the right presents. Christmas was her favorite holiday.

If you can help someone even after your death, why not do so? Joni donated her body to the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

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