Monday, July 23


Weeping, I go down the street Grotesque, without solution With the sadness of Cyrano And Quixote. Redeeming Infinite impossiblities With the rhythm of the clock.
~Federico García Lorca

Sunday, July 15

The Brock Family Eulogy ~ prepared by Veronica, Robert & Thom ~ Spoken by John Mayberry

Those of you expecting a standard run-of-the-mill eulogy might want fasten your seatbelts; Jo really enjoyed a good roller coaster.

Born in Freeport, TX, on February 27, 1951, Joyce Elaine Parker was the daughter of James C. Parker and Mary Howell Renshaw.  We had all come to know her well as Jo Brock of Roan Mountain, TN, who passed on June 26, 2012 at the age of 61.  Biological mother to surviving children Robert James Alva Brock and Veronica Toys Brock, Jo tirelessly assumed the role of mother, caretaker and advisor to everyone she met.  Stunned at the situation surrounding her passing, we are taking solace in that she is now finally able to rest in peace.

In addition to Veronica & son-in-law Damon Steele of Richmond, VA, as well as Robert, daughter-in-law Codi Taylor Brock & Jo’s only grand-daughter Sydnie Hellane Brock of Elizabethton, TN, Jo is also survived by her former spouse, Thomas Van Brock of Newland, NC; her sisters and their husbands Ceci & John Mayberry of Pigeon Forge, TN, Carol & Larry Maechler of Mena, AR, as well as Bonnie & Jack McPeck of Spokane, WA.  Jo has gone to meet her maker along with her parents, mother Mary Howell of Gatlinburg, TN, father & step-mother James & Isabell Parker of San Antonio, TX, as well as her sister Marty Farwell of Austin, TX.

If anyone here is in the wrong room, now is the time to tell us.  We will pause for a moment, while you clear the room.  Any takers?

No? Moving-on then…

Although Jo shared almost four decades of her life within Roan Mountain, she always considered herself a Texan.  She maintained this home-state pride, even though she was in Sarasota, Florida when she and her husband-to-be, Thom, met on December 21, 1967. Thom and his two best friends, who were home from college, were invited to a Christmas party at Jo’s mother and stepfather’s home.  At that time, meeting Jo also meant that you had to meet all of her sisters as well, Ceci, Marty, Carol and Bonnie.

Jo was set to return to San Antonio, Texas, after the holidays.  She lived there with her father, Jim, and her stepmother, Mama Belle. She helped her dad in San Antonio in his landscape maintenance business.

Her sister, Ceci, was working at a Burger King in Sarasota during this era.  When Thom stopped there one day after classes to say hello, he was pleasantly surprised as Ceci informed him that Jo was returning to the area to live with her mom and finish school. 

As Thom attended the University of South Florida, he and Jo saw each other whenever they could.  After high school, Jo attended Bauder Fashion and Merchandising College in Miami.  Jo’s graduation from Bauder on May 30th of 1970 briefly preceded another ceremony in the celebration of Jo’s life.

Less than two weeks later, Thom and Jo married on June 12, 1970 in Sarasota, FL, at the Pine Shores Presbyterian Church.  They lived briefly in Tampa, where Jo worked for Zayre department stores and Thom finished his degree. The “still newlyweds” returned to Sarasota in 1971 to operate Thom’s father’s landscaping and garden center business. 

When the opportunity to buy a farm in Roan Mountain, TN, presented itself, they jumped at the chance.  Thom’s folks had moved to Newland, NC, previously.  Thom’s father found the farm on Hampton Creek, which was bought, site unseen.

Jo worked hard when they moved to the farm.  The mobile home they had purchased in Florida was totally destroyed by the trip.  They were forced to live in a big barn when they arrived.  She helped turn a barely livable situation into a very viable one.  With time, ingenuity, help from friends and family, that old barn became a house and then a home.  It was perhaps as much of a one-of-a-kind original as Jo.

She endured taking baths in an oak barrel with water heated on a wood stove.  She endured taking showers outside the barn with a black plastic pipe laid across the pasture to heat up the water during the day.  She used a portable chemical commode until the plumbing was installed the following year.  Thom and she had to sleep on the bales of hay in the barn.  The moonlight beamed through the barn boards and they could see the mice dancing all around.  She endured, much to her credit, a great deal more than many people would ever even consider: No electricity, no bathroom, living out of coolers, kerosene lamps… the list was seemingly endless.

As much as Jo claimed to be a Texan, her personality traits were very much her own brand.  She never made excuses for herself, rather she made her strong-willed vibrant spirit very much known and never ignored.  Jo was stubborn, obstinate, cantankerous, ornery, and opinionated.  She was also said to have the tact of a water buffalo.   

But she also had a gregarious side.  Over the years, she reached out to help many people.  Her role as earth mother reached-out to everyone she encountered.  Her save-everyone philosophy knew no end.  If you needed the shirt off her back, she would not only offer it, rather she would insist upon sharing it.  Whether the people around her were friends, acquaintances, strangers, or otherwise, every one of them benefited from being around her, in one way or another.  Whether it was food, money, gifts, tough love or whatever was needed.  She did this so often, it was more than second nature.

Thom and Jo bought a service station business in Pineola, NC.  They ran it along with Thom’s sister, Dee, and her husband, Dewayne.  Simultaneously, Thom was also running a newspaper route for the Asheville-Citizen Times.  When Jo was seriously injured in an automobile accident in the fall of 1972, she lost a child she didn’t know she was carrying at the time.  She never fully recovered from her back injuries.  They had to close the service station business.

When Thom started teaching school in Roan Mountain, Jo had even more responsibilities at the farm.  The interaction with the public school system allowed Jo her first ability to meet and make impressions upon the mass of locals.  Jo contributed to a community fund-raising event one evening by setting up a palm-reading booth on the stage in the school gym.  At first the line was minimal, but after a few people had their opportunity to hear someone else elaborate on their private truths, the line quickly filled and formed all the way through the building and out the door into the parking lot.  Afraid that the locals might think Jo a witch, Thom wisely asked that she not do that anymore.   

If she weighs the same as a duck... she's made of wood!
And therefore…

In the following 17-18 years, she helped grow Christmas trees, as well as raised sheep, goats, hogs, cats and St. Bernards.  She always tended a big garden that was planted every year.  Veronica still remembers this garden even today with every fruit and vegetable she is offered.  Understandably, nothing has ever tasted as good as the harvest from the Elm Hollow farm.  Raised with merely hard work, nature, and love, nothing could compare. 

Veronica “Toys” was born in 1976. When Veronica was young, the family returned to Florida to run a landscaping business.  When it was time for Veronica to start school, they returned to Roan Mountain to start an arts and crafts business.  This endeavor had them traveling to a variety of locations and meeting a myriad of interesting people.  Thom started work at the animal hospital in Roan Mountain in 1983.  Jo kept the home fires burning.  Much to everyone’s joy and surprise, Robert  “Bobby” James Alva “Big Al” was born in 1987.  A few years later, he actually grew into all those nicknames.

As the arboreal crop matured, Thom and Jo also began to sell Christmas trees during this time.  Travel then was more focused on the annual trips to Florida just before Christmas each year.  It was during this era that Veronica learned the truth about a certain Jolly Old Elf.  On December 23, 1989, a massive snowstorm settled into Florida.  Previously, Thom had always managed to return home before Christmas, until that year.  The traditional Brock family celebration always began on Christmas Eve, and also lasted well into the New Year.  However, this snowy holiday, highways were closed and Thom did not arrived in time to help Saint Nick deliver his presents.  However, the holiday remained unspoiled for all, as Thom returned shortly thereafter. 

The winter holiday season was always a magical time for the Brock family.   All four of their birthdays were huddled closely around these holidays.  One of the best and most memorable eras was when Veronica turned 14, on November 7, 1990.  Thom followed with his winter solstice eve birthday on December 21 of that same year as he turned 44.  Robert was not far behind with his 4th birthday, January 8th, a day he shares with the late-great-king-of-rock-n-roll.  Jo’s birthday was always saving the best for last, February 27, as she reached the pinnacle age of 40 in early 1991.   14 - 44 - 4 & 40. It was a numerological masterpiece, like it was meant to be, perhaps even made in heaven, so to speak.  

It was not too long after this, the family Jo had helped to hold together, began to go their separate ways.  For good or bad, Jo and Thom separated in early 1992.  Thom moved to North Carolina and Jo remained in Tennessee with Robert and Veronica.  As with any divorce, life became confusing and all felt lost for quite a while.  Eventually the magical Elm Hollow farm was sold and Jo soon re-located to another nearby property that she and Thom had owned.  She remained at that property, the one we have all come to know as Hemlock Lane until this most recent unexpected event. 

The memories and stories continued to build on Hemlock Lane as time marched along.  Jo was occasionally challenged by certain domestic mysteries.  The rather inventive way she used cleaning products was the source of more than a few familial tales.  One of the most prominent of these involved young Master Robert in 2004.  It seems Jo felt that aerosol engine degreaser would make an exemplary oven cleaner.  Later in the day, Robert attempted to cook a pizza within that self same oven.  The air and the pizza became saturated with the fumes of overheated chemicals.  This was the first time both Jo and Veronica ever heard Robert curse. 

The moral of this story:  Don’t get between a boy and his pizza.

Jo never stopped caring about her daughter and son.  She and Thom inevitably came to talk and correspond again.  Most of the conversations revolved around the children.  Each member of the family had to move on with their lives, but none of them could ever leave behind the most precious concerns of their hearts, one another.  When Sydnie Hellane, Jo’s granddaughter, came into their lives, they had yet another common gift which re-enlivened communication.

Jo loved her mom and dad, her sisters, and all of her family from Washington State to New Jersey, with a healthy dose of Texas, Arkansas and Florida in between.  She loved to work and be outside.  She loved to mow; it seemed to be therapeutic for her.  Perhaps the only thing she loved more than Roan Mountain, itself, were the people she encountered living on it. 

The fact that she was taken from us cannot be understood.  We can only join together here as those who love her, miss her, and will always remember her.  May she have lasting peace.  We all wish her God speed.  Bless her memory. 

John, at this point we want to invite everyone to listen (and perhaps sing along) to Aaron Neville’s rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.”  By the way, John, you should not be reading this part aloud and if you are ... now would be a good time to shut up. 

MY SISTER JO ~ as spoken by Ceci

I dearly loved my sister, Jo. 

Her sudden and tragic death left me shocked, stunned, sad, mad, confused and hopefully, ultimately at peace - much like the life of my sister Jo. For Jo was unique, unconventional and always seemed most comfortable choosing her own path in life.

Jo was always a true and loving sister, no matter what the turmoil in our lives as young children or through various life situations in our adult lives.

In the last few years since the passing of our beloved Daddy, Jo seemed to have more inner peace within her and wished that for others.

Jo was a giver and would gladly stop to help anyone who had a need. Jo’s spiritual strength seemed to come from the many selfless acts she did for others. But, Jo also had an amazing physical strength as well. If you were walking along the beach with her and collecting shells and hurt your foot, she would take the bag of shells out of your hand, throw it over her shoulder. Then, without missing a beat, she would bend down, pick you up and throw you over her other shoulder. 

Even as Jo’s physical strength faded a little in the last couple of years - her spiritual strength grew stronger to fill that void.

Those of you who have small children or grandchildren are probably familiar with the words and works of Hermie and Wormie. Hermie and Wormie is one of my favorite books to read to my grandchildren about two common little worms - who didn’t understand why GOD had made them so common. As they struggle through the many obstacles in their daily lives, they finally realize one day that “GOD wasn’t through with them yet”. 

Jo had so many obstacles in her life that would have broken most people but, Jo just seemed to take it all in stride. “It’s all in GOD’S hands,” she would say.

Today I feel a deep personal sadness, and that is my own selfish feelings showing. Not just because Jo is gone but also because I have lost another sister.  Jo was a true sister, who always remembered my birthday, ands would always call or text me with a wish for a “Happy_____ (day) whatever the special day was, no matter how insignificant the special day was. I personally will miss those texts and those phone calls from her. But, I will also always remember her especially on all those special days too!

Jo so dearly loved my son, Ryan. She understood more completely than anyone else just how special Ryan is. He was her ring bearer at her wedding to Thom Brock. Jo always kept a special place in her heart for Ryan and never missed a chance to ask about him or to send her love to him.

A few years ago I was relating to someone how thankful I am that even though Ryan survived a head injury, he is almost always happy, positive and helpful to others. As, most often persons with head injuries tend to be left with belligerent, difficult, and trying personalities.

That thought reminded me of an incident that happened to Jo early in her life. I am not sure if even her own family members know this. One day as my mother was driving the car, Martha and I were sitting in the back seat. As mother turned the corner close to our home in Freeport, Texas the doors on the old Lincoln were suddenly flung open. Mother exclaimed, “Oh my purse just fell out of the car!” I said, “No, mother, it was the baby”. Baby Joyce had been thrown out of the moving car unto the pavement. Head injuries weren’t taken as serious 60 years ago as they are now. I have often wondered if that accident so many years ago may have contributed to some of my sister Jo’s many obstacles in her life.

In closing, I would like to read a poem that to me is the essence of what I believe Jo would want us to come away with today. - Not to be sad at her passing but, to look into yourselves to seek a better you!

Somebody Has To Go Polish The Stars

Somebody has to go polish the stars,
They’re looking a little bit dull.
Somebody has to go polish the stars,
For the eagles and starlings and gulls
Have all been complaining they’re tarnished and worn,
They say they want new ones we cannot afford.
So please get your rags
And your polishing jars,
Somebody has to go polish the stars.

~Shel Silverstein

Words from Rev. Robertha Klauder, Spoken by Damon Steele

we gather here in the protective shelter of God's healing love.
We are free to pour out our grief,
release our anger, face our emptiness,
and know that God cares.
We gather here as God's people,
conscious of others who have died
and of the frailty of our own existence on earth.
We come to comfort and to support one another
in our common loss.
We gather to hear God's word of hope
that can drive away our despair
and move us to offer God our praise.
We gather to commend to God with thanksgiving
the life of Joyce Elaine Parker Brock
as we celebrate the good news of Christ's resurrection.
For whether we live or whether we die,
we belong to Christ who is Lord
both of the dead and of the living.

From Psalm 46
 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in time of trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.
Though its waters roar and foam
though the mountains tremble with tumult.
The Lord of hosts is with us. 

O God, our strength and our redeemer, giver of life and conqueror of death, we praise you with humble hearts.
With faith in your great mercy and wisdom, we entrust Joyce Parker Brock to your eternal care.
We praise you for your steadfast love for her  all the days of her earthly life.
We thank you for all that she was by nature and grace to those who loved her.
We thank you that for Joyce all sorrow is ended and death itself is past and that she has entered the rest where all your people gather in peace.
Keep us all in communion with your faithful people in every time and place, that at last we may rejoice together in the heavenly family where Jesus Christ reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.

Tuesday, July 3

La Luna y La Rosa

En el silencio estrellado la Luna daba a la rosa y el aroma de la noche le henchía —sedienta boca— el paladar del espíritu, que adurmiendo su congoja se abría al cielo nocturno de Dios y su Madre toda… Toda cabellos tranquilos, la Luna, tranquila y sola, acariciaba a la Tierra con sus cabellos de rosa silvestre, blanca, escondida… La Tierra, desde sus rocas, exhalaba sus entrañas fundidas de amor, su aroma… Entre las zarzas, su nido, era otra luna la rosa, toda cabellos cuajados en la cuna, su corola; las cabelleras mejidas de la Luna y de la rosa y en el crisol de la noche fundidas en una sola… En el silencio estrellado la Luna daba a la rosa mientras la rosa se daba a la Luna, quieta y sola.
~Miguel de Unamuno

Monday, July 2

At Times To Be Silent Is To Lie

At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right.
~Miguel de Unamuno

Tuesday, June 26

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning's hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.
~Mary Elizabeth Frye

Monday, June 25

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 The Gift of Love

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Wednesday, June 20

Throw Yourself Like Seed

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit; Sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate That brushes your heel as it turns going by, The man who wants to live is the man in whom life is abundant. Now you are only giving food to that final pain Which is slowly winding you in the nets of death, But to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts Is the work; start there, turn to the work. Throw yourself like seed as you walk, and into your own field, Don’t turn your face for that would be to turn it to death, And do not let the past weigh down your motion. Leave what’s alive in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself, For life does not move in the same way as a group of clouds; From your work you will be able one day to gather yourself.
~Miguel de Unamuno

Wednesday, June 6

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on that sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
~Dylan Thomas