Thursday, June 30, 2011

In memory of Jerrie Sue...

I started attending church with my husband just before we were married in 1994. At the time, I went to church, went to service, then left. I was overwhelmed by all of the new faces, my new mother and father inlaw, his grandparents, his first, second and third cousins. I felt like everyone knew me – and I knew no one.

Shortly after we had my daughter in 1996, I found myself taking her to the nursery. That nursery on the second floor of the church was where EVERYTHING happened! And I mean EVERYTHING! And everyone who attends that church knows it. If a new initiative didn’t make it past the nursery, it didn’t make it for the church as a whole. Within those walls, holding those sweet tender babies were the strongest women I have ever known.

Of course, it wasn't long after sitting in that room for the first time when I heard a voice that I pray today I will never EVER forget. It was loud. It, too, was strong. And I knew that whomever it was directed at was going to abide by the short forceful command, “STOP RUNNING!” I reached down and covered Isi with what I suddenly wished was a soundproof blanket.

I waited for David to come get us in the nursery that morning … In part because I was afraid… As I left, I peered into every single room up there on the second floor. Across the hall was this sweet looking grandmother, talking to what looked like the Pastor's sons. Surely it wasn’t her. Too sweet. Too grandmotherly.

It wasn’t long before I learned that IT WAS HER! If the nursery and the second floor was command central at that church, I quickly learned that Jerrie Sue was commander in chief … Well, honestly ... Jerrie Sue was second in command behind her mother, Doris, whom I also loved very very dearly. Those two women MADE.IT.HAPPEN.

By the time I had Colton, 15 months after Isabella, I quickly discovered I needed help. My parents and David’s parents were busy. I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising what suddenly felt like a family of 10. Jerrie Sue had already grabbed Isi from me plenty of times DESPITE my quiet request that she wash her hands first - and my follow up 20 questions about ALL exposures to ANY illness. I stood in amazement as she ignored all of my requests and inquiries. And I was even more amazed as Isi laughed and cooed at the Commander in Chief. By the time she grabbed Colton for the 25th time and worked her charm, I KNEW that Jerrie Sue was going to be a HUGE part of our lives. She loved my kids. She LOVED them. And they loved her, despite her sometimes loud barking commands that made ME want to run and hide. When we needed her most, Jerrie Sue made herself busy with us. I will never, ever forget that.

I remember asking the kids one day if Jerrie Sue ever scared them with her sometimes loud and forceful direction. They they looked rather puzzled and laughed at me; “NO! Why would we be afraid??"

After all, who can be scared of Mother Goose and her bag of movies and M&Ms? Who can be afraid of a Grandma who watched them whenever we called for however long we needed her, without hesitation? When we came home, we knew our kids had probably had more fun that evening than we ever had. And we knew that whatever note we had left about feeding them their green vegetables and NO M&Ms had been ignored … especially as we found Dixie cups of M&Ms all around the house. She ignored us – but she never ONE TIME ignored them.

I will close with this. Mother Goose wasn’t all just fun and games - and M&Ms. Also stuffed in her bag was all kinds of educational activities from word searches to math problems. She sat those kids down at some point during her stay and taught them to love learning. Any academic success my kids have today came because Jerrie Sue planted and watered that seed time and time again. Jerrie Sue was a teacher – sometimes whether she realized it or not. Jerrie Sue taught me how to be a better mother. Her long talks with me after everyone else went to bed taught me how to be a better friend. She taught me that sometimes – gloriously – the bark is so much bigger than the bite. That when your heart is in the right spot, nothing else matters. Jerrie Sue’s heart was so in the right spot.

This family will never be the same without Jerrie Sue. She is a part of us now even though she is gone. She is deep in our hearts and every single thought and memory is a treasure.

Rest in peace, Jerrie Sue... You were truly loved