I met Jeanne three years ago. She was a shy, quiet little woman who sat 2 or 3 seats from me in Sunday school at our church in Rockwall, Texas.
It didn’t take long to realize how wrong I was. Yes she was a little woman, but definitely not quiet or shy. Jeanne was funny, lively and had a gleam of mischief – all while being kind and thoughtful.
What started out as a casual greeting, turned out to be a friendship few know. Jeanne turned out to be one of the dearest friends I have ever had.
Jeanne and I had grown up in the 50’s and 60’s – Jeanne in NY, and I in Texas. Kids were the same in both places. Jeanne and I had a lot in common. We played the same games, watched the same TV shows and movies and listened to the same music. We both loved horses and dogs. Once when we were reminiscing, we talked about string games. When “Cat-in-the-Cradle” was mentioned, we took some string and began playing string games. Jeanne was as fun-loving a person as I had ever known. Our time together was spent goofing off and laughing constantly. It was like we were in our second childhood.
We would do silly things like decorating pumpkins with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head parts. We decided to make orange rice Krispy Treat pumpkins. That didn’t work very well and we had to eat all the pumpkins that didn’t turn out.
Jeanne and I both loved NCIS. When I would say something really stupid, Jeanne would lightly slap the back of my head and say “Ya Think?”
One day we decided to name the 7 dwarfs in Snow White, between the two of us, we were able to name them all. We then tried to name Jesus’ Disciples. Oh were we shocked. We couldn’t do it. We named some who were disciples and named some who weren’t! We spent a lot of time memorizing the correct 12.
Jeanne once asked, “Why in the world would God make a hippopotamus?” Neither of us could come up with an answer. She said she would ask God when she got to heaven. She had a list of 4 or 5 things she was going to ask.
When Michelle came to visit in Texas, Jeanne and I wondered how long it would take for Michelle to say, “Ma, I have to get you away from this crazy place!” It didn’t take long. (and in my defense – it was because you two were going to get into a lot of trouble with your silliness! But I was so very happy that she was happy and laughing and found such a great sister friend.)
Jeanne and I went to Arizona for a week. She loved Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and even talked me into a hot air balloon ride. She found beauty in everything wherever she was.
Jeanne did have a serious side – when it came to her health. Her treatments for her cancer were tough. Everyone in our Sunday school class rallied around Jeanne. Our “sistas”, as we refer to each other, volunteered to driver her to her radiation and chemo treatments.
Jeanne told me that her cancer was a blessing. Without it she wouldn’t have been able to really know and love each of the “girls”.
I am representing each of them today. They wanted Jeanne’s family and her friends to know how much they loved her and how they are better people for knowing her.
Jeanne would say, “I’m not dying from cancer, I’m living with cancer.”
Some other health issues were serious, too. Whenever she was scared she would recite the 23rdPsalm – one of her favorite Bible passages.
I was with Jeanne when the doctor used the word “terminal”. After leaving the doctor’s office, we sat in the car and cried and talked. We decided all of us are “terminal”.
Our Sunday School class gave our teacher a Bible 2 years ago. The teacher asked each of us if we would find our favorite verse or verses, underline them and put our initials next to it. Jeanne marked Matthew 25:34-40. Not only did Jeanne like these, she lived them.
I learned from her friend Grace, that even years ago if Jeanne saw a homeless person and it was cold she would buy a coat and gloves for him/her. In Rockwall, she would buy $5 gift cards from McDonalds. Whenever she saw a homeless man she would have me drop her off and circle around the block. She would give the person a hug and talk to him. One man said he hadn’t had a hug in years. Jeanne would give some gift cards to him and tell him that God loved him.
At church, Jeanne started a group (she wanted to call them the “Knit-wits”). Several ladies met each week and knitted or crocheted lap blankets for shut-ins and nursing homes.
Our church had an auction last year for missions. Jeanne made a beautiful quilt. It made more money than any 1 item ever.
Once Jeanne re-united with George, she would talk about him like a giddy teenager. She had finally found true happiness.
Jeanne loved her children and grandchildren so much. Even though I hadn’t met all her family until today, I felt like I knew them well. She was so proud and bragged on all their academic and sports achievements.
Now Jeanne knows the answer to “Why did God make an ugly Hippopotamus?