FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WDVM) — Jo Draper Grante has what her husband calls a “servant heart.”
A natural-born caregiver, Jo has taken care of her husband, Jullian — who has had multiple bouts with cancer — for almost the entirety of their marriage.
Jo has her daily routine down pat — giving Jullian his medication at the same time every day, checking his blood pressure, and driving her husband to frequent doctor’s appointments. It’s been this way for nearly 20 of their 32 years of marriage.
“When you get married, you say the vow, ‘For better or for worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,'” said Jo. “You have no clue what that might entail. Our lives have taken the route of some of the more difficult parts.”
Jullian is a warrior himself, battling multiple episodes of cancer and open heart surgery. Though the days were tough, through it all, Jo never left his side.
“When I got sick, she didn’t run off or take a vacation, or have somebody come in and take care of me,” said Jullian. “She took care of me.”
A former EMT, her love for her husband put her dreams on hold. Jo’s”servant heart” called her to pursue a career even further in medicine but was unable to do both.
“Had I not gotten sick, she’d be a physician’s assistant somewhere right now, but she had to give up that career to take care of me,” said her husband.
Through the long hours of doctor’s appointments and long nights of worry for Jullian, Grante says her Christian faith has kept her going — and kept her hopeful and grateful through the dark times.
“It’s such a blessing to have him. Even though the day is going to mean that I have a lot on my to-do list, I sure am glad he’s on that list,” said Jo.
Somehow, Jo still finds time to keep giving to others outside of her family. The Grantes created an organization called FOCUS (From Opportunity Comes Ultimate Success,” assisting teens transition from “welfare to work.”
The program taught the teens various work skills, and by the end of their twelve months of training, they were employed.
“We were able to help young people learn how to own and operate their own food service, whether it was catering or working in a restaurant as a waiter or waitress,” said Jo.
Jo’s work led to receiving a letter from the White House, asking her to speak about welfare in America at a congressional hearing.
“Jo spoke, talked about our program, and it was televised around the world on BBC,” her husband said proudly.
It was in that moment Grante realized the impact she could have on people and her community.
“It wasn’t until later that we talked about it and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what just happened?'” said Jo.
From there, Jo continued to serve, fostering children born with HIV/AIDS during the epidemic in the 1980’s. Jo and her husband would frequently visit the hospitals to visit the newborn babies.
The Grantes recall one instance where the children couldn’t visit the circus. So, the Grantes made a quick phone call to the Ringling Brother’s Circus.
“They brought the circus to the house, to the group home they were in. The smiles, the joy, the excitement, the laughter…,” recalls Jullian.
These acts of community service are just the beginning for Jo, and while Jullian insists it’s all his wife’s doing, she says it wouldn’t be possible without the support of her husband.
“He has all the big ideas. I just figure out how to make it work,” Jo said with a laugh.