POULTNEY, Vt. (WCAX) Every Wednesday Josephine Williams travels to Perry's Restaurant in Poultney for breakfast. It's a family affair. There's son Terry, grandson Keith, cousins Jemma, Jerry and Pam, along with aunt Cathy.
"Yeah, I have wonderful family," said Josephine, whose friends call her Jo.
Over eggs and coffee they discuss what's happening in their lives. Jo, though, held onto a secret for almost a month.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So Jo, you didn't tell people I was coming?
Josephine Williams: No, I didn't. No, 'cause I knew they wouldn't come and sit with us.
It's not a problem for Keith. He wants his grandmother's story told. "She has such a great story. Everybody knows her around here, she's like a local celebrity," he said.
From longtime town clerk to recent Poultney Citizen of the Year, Jo is loved and respected for what's she done and what she's gone through. As we age it's not uncommon to lose a loved one, but Jo has had to endure far worse. Her husband Bill died 20 years ago and in the last three years, she's lost three of her five children.
"Your supposed to go before your children, that's not what happened with me," Jo said. "I can't believe it, you know, you just can't believe that would happen."
All three died of cancer in their 60s. First to die was Kevin, a longtime firefighter in Burlington. Next, was Joel, a local radio personality, and then came the singer of the family, Missy. Jo's walls are full of pictures. "These are my memories," she said.
Jo finds strenght in her Catholic faith and says attending Mass brings her closer to her children.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Have you questioned your faith at all?
Josephine Williams: Oh yes, doesn't everybody?
There's a quiet dignity to Jo. "I keep on trying, I keep on going," she said. "No, I don't think I'm anything special, I just try to do the best I can."
"Of course, she's had a lot of support, but I don't think she needed that support. She could do it all by herself," Keith said.
"No, I needed everybody. I needed you all," Jo responded.
She says the family has always been close, but their collective grief has made them closer. "I just love them dearly, that's all," she said.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So, obviously you respect your grandmother.
Keith: I love her... She's strong willed, she's a strong willed person.
Finding strength with the help of family and friends.