Jo Stuart, “Butterfly in the City” died this week in San Jose, Costa Rica.
She was the first person I met in Costa Rica when I moved there, who became my friend. I still see her sitting at a table outside a coffee shop, near the theater waiting for me. I would wear blue so she would know me, but she seemed to see me right away. I told her that i always thought it would be fun to meet someone wearing the wrong color the first time just to see what would happen.
She laughed at that, and she laughed a lot. The online newspaper, www.amcostarica.com was launched just before I left the U.S. to live near Heredia. I saw Jo’s column and sent her a message. She agreed to meet with me and gave me directions from the bus stop to the coffee shop. She gave me lots of help and encouragement in the beginning of my time in Costa Rica…it was a lonely time for me, and she knew that.
Later, I also wrote once in awhile for that paper and also began a writer’s club, which Jo had joined along with other people. I stayed in touch with Jo, mostly through her column, but once in awhile, I’d send a little note, or something I thought she’d enjoy. She always encouraged me with the book I wrote, “Two Close to the Sun” – a Dutch boy becomes a man during WWII.
Jo, to help with her finances, made chocolate sauce that was delicious. It was packaged in a little jar with her photo and logo.
Jo did something very nice for me. She introduced me to the man who owned a wonderful artist colony in the mountains. The colony was low on guests and so the one writer who was there, wouldn’t be alone, he allowed me to stay there one month for free. He even allowed my two cats to live there with me.
We had a once a month gathering that was open to the public, where each guest was featured with either their artwork on display or an opportunity to read from their writing.
Jo congratulated me after she had heard from the owner of the colony that I had read and it went over very well with the audience. She took every opportunity to be a good friend and encourager.
One time she called me to tell me she had met a man through her column who wanted to meet both of us, so she made an appointment with him and we were to meet at the same coffee shop. I laughed and told her I sure hoped he wasn’t an axe murderer.
We both had to laugh when he stood us up, and neither of us heard from him again.
Jo was active in spite of a heart condition; she acted in the community theater, was president of the Democratic Club, belonged to the Newcomer’s club, the woman’s club and kept up with her friendships.
Her columns were always a joy to read.
I’ll miss her.