To most of you, the title of this post is the title of a song that you’re probably getting pretty tired of hearing right about now. But to me, it has a different meaning. When I think of Joy, I think of my beloved grandmother, Joy McInnes, who passed away in my arms on December 23rd.

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past few days thinking about what’s really important in life, and being thankful for those volunteers, donors, and charitable organizations who have either directly, or indirectly touched my family through their good works.

My grandmother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in late 2009, just before the whole family was due to head to Las Vegas to celebrate her 90th birthday (she picked the location and 10 of us tagged along).  Before that, she’d never been to a hospital in her life, nor had she ever been very sick.

Small cell lung cancer is very aggressive and it can’t be cured. The outlook was grim.

My grandmother’s treatment began the moment we arrived home from our trip. She had x-rays and CT scans, blood work and bronchoscopes, and months of chemo to top it all off. Through it all she never once complained. In fact, at one point she said to me “I don’t know why I’m not depressed about all of this. I actually feel quite happy!”  An optimist to the end, just 10 days ago she was talking about her plans for next Christmas.

Our job as family was to provide love and support, protect her from bad news (she preferred it that way), and act as calendar-keepers and appointment schedulers. We made sure she got lots of rest, was able to continue to do the things that gave her pleasure, and got the most out of life during her last months.

There are so many people and groups that helped smooth the way on this rough journey of ours. I’m particularly grateful to the following: The Canadian Cancer Society; Look Good Feel Better; Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation; The Ottawa Hospital; Bruyère Continuing Care; First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa; STRIDE Wheelchairs Plus; and The Hospice at May Court.

Some are clients, some are not. But all are doing good works, and in honour of my grandmother, and in appreciation for all they’ve done for my family, I’ve made a special donation to each of them.

Whose good works have personally touched you this year? How have you honoured them? I challenge you to look beyond your own clients (if you’re a consultant or agency) and beyond your own organization (if you work in the non-profit sector).  There are many, many people and charities doing good works out there and they deserve our thanks and support.

Grandma, may you rest in peace.

This post was written by Leah Eustace, ACFRE, former Principal and Chief Idea Goddess at Good Works.