Today, I am Honoring My Lady and My Best Friend. Every time I see this picture, my goodness this Lady is GORGEOUS in red! That was my favorite color on her. She is smiling because it was her 81st birthday and her “boyfriend,” aka Big Daddy, was taking her on a fish date. I was the third wheel because all best friends are great third wheels.
How She Loved Bart
She loved him so much. Even during a very trying time in our marriage, where she could have just said: “Leave him,” but she did not say that. What she did was carry my weary body into her home, place her beautiful hand on my hand and the other on my head, and prayed.
Then, she picked up the phone and called a trusted and amazing human. She briefly (and discreetly) said a few things and then hung up the phone. As she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, she said: “It is going to be okay.”
It was, but during that “it time” part, she held me accountable in my words and actions. She also had another man work with Bart. Together, they walked with us through the mud. Our marriage is stronger because of the prayers and the advice that we received.
I miss her so much that I physically ache. Everyone should have a Ms. Jo. I mean everyone. Someone strong, not afraid to speak her mind, and loves so completely. I never doubted that she loved me. She never doubted that I loved her.
I Wish We Had More Time
We had little time, ten years maybe, not long enough. It is as simple as that. What started as me admiring grace and beauty (and her voice) moved onto noticing her beautifully crooked finger. Then it matriculated into me timidly requesting her to be my mentor. Quickly, followed by me sitting on her porch and squalling. I cried so bad that she said we were making the neighbors talk, and for the love of all to get in the house.
Next, it moved to me helping out here and there. Going to lunch and running errands. Lastly, it moved more into caregiving and sitting with my Lady. Many nights of me making supper and us eating it together while watching Jag. Cleaning. Oh my goodness, I cleaned things out. We looked at her billions of pictures, and I soaked up all her memories.
Find a Mentor
Talk to your church and see if you can set up a mentor/mentee program. It is so worth every moment! “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-5).
You will not regret it. I miss you, Lady. More than I can even describe. My best friend, person, mentor, accountability partner, teacher. I am so excited to see you again! Until we see each other again, in heaven, I love your face off!
Welp, 2 Years Have Passed since my beautiful Lady saw Jesus (and Jerome) face to face. Somedays, it feels like an eternity. Then, there are days that the stinging pain is fresh.
Grief is a beast.
I have never been one that has been okay with the loss. Like never have I been okay in the history of ever. Never. I try to be all mature and stoic. Then, that moment when I am alone, it hits.
Overwhelming sadness and tears. When I am alone, I can let my guard down and just mourn. Boo says that I can’t cry because that would be like Superman with a broken arm. It isn’t the norm and, to him, it isn’t okay. He does not like to see me upset at all.
Frankly, none of my kids do and when I do get emotional, Big Daddy buys me something LOL. I guess that is their way of “fixing” the giant hole in my heart that she left. In a creepy way, I drive by her house. I’m sickened with how they have let the yard go. One day, there were mattresses on her front lawn.
She would have NEVER allowed that. Honestly, she would have strapped those things on my back like a pack mule and I would have hauled them out. Or, in her fashion, she’d call her ‘boyfriend’ (Big Daddy) to come and get them. In his true fashion, he would hop at her command.
Oh, she had a hold on him. I loved how she loved him. One day, she called me, in a panic. I thought something was wrong. She says get over there and I stop everything and go. That was our thing.
Walked in on a Disturbed Lady
She was standing in the kitchen when I flew in and this was the conversation that we had:
L: Look what was on my front porch and back porch!
**Holds up 2 baggies that had a letter and a mint in each baggie. I get the baggie and pull out the letter. It was an invitation to the KKK.**
Me: Josephine…what on earth! Did you hear anyone?
L: No but I don’t have a gun anymore either so what am I supposed to do? They must have seen your kids out here working in the yard. Those **insert dirty words**.
Me: What would you like me to do?
L: Take that filth home with you. Get it out of my house.
Me: Yes, Ma’am.
L: When are you bringing supper?
Me: When I get it fixed.
L: Are you eating with me?
Me: I always do!
L: Are the mints safe to eat or are they tainted with hate?
Me: I vote tainted with hate.
L: Shame, I love those mints. See you soon. Love you.
Me: I love you more.
L: That is not possible.
So, now, recounting that…I’m going to have to go and cry now. I’m alone, licked the cheese off a 1/2 a bag of Doritos, no one will see me…it’s all good.
Lady…until I see you again. We are gonna make some Poke Salad, Cornbread, and fry some fish. Plus, as a bonus, I can finally meet your Jerome.
I love your face off and I miss you every single day.
Once upon a time, there was a Boss, Professional, and Judgy People. Well, there were a couple of more people in that group, but I shall refrain from speaking on that. This past week has been riddled with my frustration with the human race. I have zero tolerance right now and I really don’t know why.
Normally, I can look past things. I can chalk it up to immaturity, triggers that are mine that was activated by an action of another. Normally, I can regroup and then be done and okay. I try hard not to let it affect me, emotionally.
As my Lady said, “your emotions are yours. No one can control them but you. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move on!” That statement would make me cry every time but now, it is my mantra.
Kindness Goes a Long Way
When you follow the rules, talk to the person in charge, clear the issue and then the second in charge scares your child. Uhm…not okay. That has been one little issue that we have had. It is not okay to scare a child or to use your authority to force an issue. Especially when that issue was resolved by the said person’s boss.
Luckily, I have a friend on the inside that was able to run as a buffer for this little moment. Once she knew of the problem, she had it resolved immediately. However, I did make sure that my voice was heard as well. I opted to show kindness but to be firm in that what happened was not okay. Hopefully, this is resolved.
Mistake of One Leads to Misfortune for the Other
At a time when money is tight (as in always), this is not the time to go without a paycheck. Yet, I have for the last 3 weeks. When I was told that I would not be paid until a certain thing was done, I had a hard time using my words. My son was in the car. I was not going to let the actions of another trigger the intense emotion of anger that I was feeling. There were so many words that I wanted to use. Yet, I refrained.
In saying that, my tone was quite evident by my son and the person I was speaking to. He quickly got off the phone with me. My son never said a word. Smart on both parts. My fingers, however, did a lot of speaking when I translated the news to my husband. All I have gotten was a haphazard “sorry.”
Judginess of Others
Oh. My. Goodness. The rate people judge others is TREMENDOUS! Disgusting actually. I have to be really careful with how I phrase things. We have been unable to do some things with one of our children. It isn’t for lack of wanting to go and do. The fact of the matter is, we have been limited because of Hunter’s illness.
Unless you live in my house 24/7, you have absolutely NO idea what has gone on and happened here. I don’t feel like I have to send notice to people or go to a place and make a statement in regards to why I can’t be there. It isn’t necessary.
Recently, we have had more chance to be able to go and see my child do the thing that he enjoys. I love being there supporting him. What I don’t love is the looks I get. Completely and totally ignored by most. The comments I do get are “haven’t seen you in a long time someone else usually does this activity.” “Doesn’t (insert name) usually do this? Thought you fell off the planet.”
Then there are the sweet people who know the situation and ask how my son is doing. How I am fairing? How is Hunter? Just kindness. Those little moments, though are few and far between, touch my heart. Yet there are still the other group of people who are isolated, by the judgy people, as well. These people do not fall into the “click” of others. They found me and they were sincere in questions. That was a sweet moment too.
In the End
I have to just move on. That phrase from my Lady needs to permeate more through my body and mind. I need to quit looking to others for understanding, kindness, and maturity. It is what it is.
I need not the approval of man but to remember who I am in Christ. Trying to figure out if someone likes me, doesn’t like me, is mad at me, why they are mad at me…I’m just over it. There have been a few moments of questioning who I am as a person because of the actions/words of another. I am over it.
What a pointless way to spend my time.
If you ever wondered WHO you are in CHRIST, then look no further! Head on over to The Alliance and print out this PDF. It is who we are, in Christ and Scripture to back up that fantastic knowledge.
Live your life in order to bring joy and honor to our King. If You (me) continue to look to others for approval, we will constantly be in a state of depression and despair. As I tell my kids, look for the kid that no one wants to sit by or talk to. The one that is different from the others. Go say “hi” and get to know that person. Don’t point out differences. Be mindful of judging others. Most importantly, BE KIND!
As my Oak says, “In the end, if you do not see it, taste, touch it, or hear it, do not speak on an issue. Keep your mouth shut.”
Forever my mentor. She is forever my best friend. Forever my person.
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her and miss her. Just the other day, I told my son-in-law that he needed to call her. She could get stains out like magic. Sigh. I miss her. My Lady was my mentor, my best friend, my confidante, and my encourager. There will never be another person like her.
Honestly, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. I found myself telling my kids her sayings and repeating so much of what she said to me. She was loved by so many and treasured in our community. What a human. Loved her husband, Jerome, so very much. Oh, how she loved her boys and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. An inspiration.
Here is a Wordless Wednesday Lady Edition for you. One day, soon, I will be able to not go to bed at 3:30 am. One day. Insomnia is hard. So. Very. Hard. It can strike out of nowhere and take you captive. I have found myself trying to fall asleep in a chair, the floor, the closet, the living room. Maybe a different environment can trick my body into sleep. In this Wordless Wednesday Lady Edition, her couch was not necessarily my friend. However, her chair was my bestie.
Nothing Has Worked
Nothing has worked and insomnia has ruled my life, at times. I have tried Melatonin, Ambien, and Oils. Sadly, each time, they work for a bit and then they stop. I get one night of rest and that one night is fleeting. However, this was the story of my life for a very long time. I wish I could show her this Wordless Wednesday Lady Edition. First, she knows her name is Lady. Secondly, she finds joy in knowing my peace is found in her presence (and my green chair).
Amazingly, my Lady would let me sleep at her house and I would sleep like a baby. Granted, it was only a 15-20 minute power nap. Amazingly though, I felt like I could conquer the world after those afternoons. It was, quite possibly, the peace that I would feel when I would walk into her home.
This is a bit different. For instance, I would meld into her green chair, not her sofa. Finally, I would lull off to sleep with the sounds of her eating and Jag on the television. Many moments, I would wake up with drool running down my face. I would look at her, startled, and she would sit there smiling at me. I miss her.
Uhm, What the Heck Just Happened?? This is my Lady…..my Josephine…..Ms. Jo…….Faithie……….she is my person. She is my mentor. She is one of my most favorite people who ever walked the Earth.
My Lady is not well. She has a lot going on, medically. She has had to be placed in a nursing home because we, as her family, cannot keep up with all her needs at home anymore. It has broken my heart. She is beginning to go in and out of lucidness.
I know she knows me because when she sees me walking down the hall, she smiles and waves. She knows I am someone that she loves. For a while there, I was Ramona….whoever Ramona is…I don’t know. She knows my husband’s name is Bart. She says that his name is Bart and he is her boyfriend and she loves him. All of this is true LOL
She Knows Me
The other day, I went to visit my sweet Lady and her son and daughter in law were there. We sat outside, getting some fresh air. She waved at me when I walked up to her. I came up, and I kissed her on the cheek and I asked her if she knew who I was today. She just smiled, never said my name, but she said she knew me.
She is My Joy
After a bit, I got up in her space again…..she was wearing the same shirt that I love. It is my favorite shirt on her. I told her that and then I said “oh, Lady, I love you so much. You are my favorite.” She came too, patted my cheeks, and said “oh, Brandi, I love you. What would I do without you.” My heart nearly exploded.
She was not lucid there for a little bit after that.
Uhm, What the Hey Ho was that?
Then, the strangest thing happened. This young man pulled up and he walked behind her patting her shoulders. She turned to see who was touching her and then she began speaking FLUENT French. Now, bear in mind, she lived in France when her boys were young. He spoke French back to her. Then he would ask her something in French and she would answer him in FLUENT German. This went on for quite a while. They began discussing quadratic equations and the periodic table. She never missed a beat.
She. Never. Missed. A. Beat. People.
I asked her son if she knew German. He said no. I called and asked her granddaughter if she knew German. She said no. I asked the gentleman if she was speaking it correctly because she does not know that language….he said every answer was appropriate and correct.
I am shocked.
Seriously………she thinks the year is 1917 (17 years BEFORE she was born). She thinks my name is Ramona and my husband is her boyfriend….yet she speaks 2 languages and can dissect equations like nobody’s business.
This is my FAVORITE picture of My Lady. It was taken 2 years ago after she made a miraculous recovery from her TIAs and her stroke. She is wearing my absolutely favorite shirt that she owns. I love her in the color red.
Happy 83rd Birthday to My Lady
My Lady captured my heart so many years ago. Her presence is one that demands acknowledgment, in my opinion. She is tall, regal, beautiful, honest, and she has a smile that lights up any dark spots. Little did I know that underneath all those worldly attributes was a deep love for her Jesus, her hero (Jerome), her children, her grandchildren, her church, and her community. Also, she knows everyone. In addition to that, she knows who is related to whom and how to get to, not only their childhood homes but to every home, every person has ever lived in and what job that they held.
Master of All Things
She is a master cook of things like Poke Salad, Cornbread, white beans, and ham…she knows everything to know about everything in the kitchen and how it relates to health. She has taught me how to love more deeply. How to sacrifice without complaining.
Furthermore, she has taught me how to make decisions when I am confused. She has held my head in her hands as I have cried over my marriage, my children, and my family.
She prays for me faithfully. I cannot fully put into words what she means to me and how she has affected me and my life.
I am better for knowing her and being loved by her. She is my dearest friend, mentor, and confidante.
I wish her circumstances, today, were different than what they are, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she *feels* the love and prayers from everyone around her.
My Lady Go Big or Go Home. Flashing back to June 2, 2017, I went to check on my Lady. When I got to her house, she was nowhere to be found. I walked around, gathered laundry, and straightened her house. Then, I called her son and granddaughter to see where she might be. I knew she had not felt well. What I didn’t know was that she had gotten significantly worse since I was there a few days earlier.
In They Walk
While I was on the phone with her youngest son, her granddaughter was walking in the door with her. My Lady’s belly was huge, tight…her legs were so swollen. She could hardly breathe and all she wanted to do was to lay down in her bed. She rarely does this when I am there. We got her in the bed and I spoke with her granddaughter.
The doctors thought that she needed her gallbladder taken out. So, they had scheduled an appointment for the following morning to consult with a surgeon. However, upon more discussion, it was decided that if they happened to keep her, she needed to be at a hospital that her neurologist was in. This is because of her stroke a couple of years ago. So, her son took her to the ER. I was going to run to a baseball game for one of my kids. Then head to the hospital to spend the night.
Once at the hospital…we realized how severe this was.
Doctors were coming in right and left and they were throwing out terms like “cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, congestive heart failure, UTI…” We must have looked like we were from a different planet cause we were not prepared for all of that. UTI, sure…she has those a lot. The rest, we had NO CLUE on. We were constantly asked how we didn’t know and who her doctor was. We kindly told all the professionals that she is always at the doctor and no one had even begun to mention any of these things…only that she needed her gallbladder removed.
Blood Thinner = Trouble
Little could be done because she is on a blood thinner and that had to be out of her system for 5 days before any invasion testing could be done. Lots of tests, lots of sharing her info, lots of little sleep, and being watchful ended up with one of the doctors saying call the family in. It was one of those moments that seems like the person talking is talking in slow motion and that all you see are their lips moving but you hear no words coming out of their mouths. I stayed with her until that following Monday. We took turns sitting with her and watching her. It was a struggle for her to breathe because of the 2 gallons of fluid on her belly…she had little energy…and she was simply tired.
Calling the Family
I knew on Tuesday that her oldest son was coming to town. Also, some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren flying in. What a legacy this woman has and she is SO well-loved by her family. I decided that I would not come to the hospital that day. Simply because I wanted to be respectful of her family and their precious time together. I played catch up around here and ran some errands.
Nothing out of the ordinary until I got a call. My Lady Go Big or Go Home. She is never in between.
This is Our Story My Lady and Me. Mentoring….something that has piqued my interest for a long time. I never knew where to begin, so I just pushed that thought on the back burner. I am too busy, I have too many kids, life gets in the way. Honestly, I’m too screwed up, no one will understand me, and closed off emotionally. All these thoughts filtered through my mind.
New Church. New Friend.
When my family and I decided to start looking for a new church, I went into it looking to fly under the radar. I’m loud and outspoken. I can be misunderstood easily. Sadly, I certainly do not get along well with pastors. We found a church. One of the first people I saw, sitting in the pew, was a TALL, white-haired woman. She looked to be in her 70s. Her presence was commanding.
She was faithful to attend morning, evening, and Wednesday night services. I could hear her sing above everyone else. One could almost read her story in the wrinkles of her beautiful face. She is captivating. Honestly, I watched her for about 2 years. Yet, I never spoke to her. I would hear people say someday, you need to ask Ms. Jo about her love story. From that moment, I was determined to ask her…but fear of rejection would pound in my head. I would not ever ask.
Candyland Coming to Life
One year we were doing a type of trunk or treat for Halloween. The ladies of the church transformed our fellowship hall. Our downstairs children’s area was turned into a giant Candyland game. I went to help out and to bring my children. As we walked downstairs, I saw this tall precious woman sitting in a rocking chair. The children would come and sit out her feet and listen to her tell the story of how much Jesus loves them.
I went in without my children (they were in another area). There, I sat at her feet. I was captivated by her ability to quietly and strongly tell this story. There was not one child who did not have their eyes on her. I sat, right by her, entranced by this woman. When the children left I asked her if someday, she would share her love story with me. This smile that could light a thousand Christmas trees flashed across her face. She simply replied with my Jerome. You could feel that love that she had for him. She told me that she would be glad to tell me sometime.
Another Year Passes
Another year or so went by. I got up the courage to always hug my Lady’s neck when I saw her. Her smile is so inviting and welcoming. I knew, though she did not know me and my scars, that she loved me. She loved me completely and unconditionally. Ms. Jo, well she was my peace. She was correcting my words towards my children. Yet only did that if she had the feeling my words were out of line. Also, she would talk to me about how I spoke to my husband at times. However, she is bold but never condemning.
Hitting Me Between the Eyes
There was a particular moment that I had been in the pit of depression for over a month. I mustered up enough courage to go to Wednesday night ministry, and I saw her come through the door. I walked up to her and hugged her. She asked me how I had been, and I just looked at her, fighting back the tears, and said I haven’t been well. I’m struggling with depression and I can’t seem to shake it.” She stood as straight as I had ever seen her and she said “well get over it. You are loved by our Jesus, your family, and me.” Her boldness took me back and I thought…well, she is right. I am loved. God is bigger than this depression.
That moment, I knew what I had been praying for so long, my prayers had been answered. That next Sunday, I went to get my hug and I sat by her. Her sweet aged hands, with that one crooked index finger (I seriously love that crooked finger) held my hand and I put my head on her shoulder. At that moment, there was no one else in the sanctuary. It was like the Lord had blacked out all the chaos around me and allowed me to focus on her and me, at that particular time.
I Have a Question
I leaned into her and I said “Ms. Jo, I have a question. Would you consider being my mentor?” She looked puzzled and she said, “well, I don’t know what I have to offer you, but whatever I have, you can have.” My thoughts started whirling and I know I looked like I could catch a thousand flies with my open mouth. I just looked at her and said “seriously, have you met yourself? How you love your Jerome, how you love your boys, your grandchildren, how you love the Lord. Simply stated, I want that and I want you to teach me that.” We agreed to set a date for that Thursday. The thrill and excitement could overwhelm me!
Our First Meeting
I showed up that first Thursday and we sat on her back porch. I sat in the swing and she sat in her chair. When I say she knew NOTHING about me, other than my name and my family’s name, I mean that. The Lord drew our souls together. She looked at me and said, “how can I help you?” At that moment, time stopped again. In an uncontrollable moment, I started weeping. I could not stop. Rarely do I cry. Usually, I fight it, I suck it up. I couldn’t even get a word out. Then I heard her sweet voice say “well, for goodness sakes, let’s go in the house and work through this.” She tells me, a lot, that I am “almost there but not quite yet.” I wholeheartedly agree! I am teachable and I am learning.
That One Defining Moment
There was a day, recently, that my heart….was shattered. Normally, I would fall into a depression and not get out of bed. This time, my first thought was to get to my person! I vaguely remember driving to her house and I knocked on the door. She opened it and said, “Hey girl, how are you?” I fell into her arms. She wrapped her arms around me, not asking me any questions and she hugged me so tight that I not only felt her love, I felt Jesus’ love through her.
Her Beautiful Hands
We made it to her table and I muttered out, through tears, what had happened. I laid my head in her beautiful hands and she caught every single tear. She made a phone call. After that, she put her sweet hand on my head. Then, prayed for me and for my family. She carried me through such a tough tough time. Also, she never judged, condemned, fussed out, bad-mouthed anyone. She loved, prayed, and encouraged. There are not many people who would do that.
Love and Encouragement
The love, the encouragement, the lessons, the simple joy of being in her presence, and her love story with “her Jerome” has been a staple in my life. There aren’t many days that I don’t either speak with her or see her. I run errands for her, we go to lunch, I take her suppers, she holds my hand, and she has the best ice cubes on the planet.
We run around town, we talk, we pray, she encourages, I have heard a thousand stories and I love each and every one of them. I have learned how to love my husband, my husband LOVES her too!!! My kids WILLINGLY do yardwork because, in moments where we are resting, we all sit on the back porch and we just listen to her wisdom. In the first place, she exudes the Proverbs 31 woman. Now, she is the living example of the Titus 2 command.
He Created Her for Me and Me for Her
The Lord knew I needed her and she needed me. She is my blessing. To help her in any way possible is a joy. I can never repay her for her love and graciousness she has shown me, my husband, and my children. She will forever be a part of my heart and my family. Oh, how I love that woman. Oh, I am thankful that the Lord granted me the desires of my heart and brought forth the most precious mentor and friend a girl could ever have. She’s my Lady. She’s my person.
Find a Mentor
I encourage those who are curious about being a mentor. Honestly, if you need a mentor, pray for the Lord to meet those needs. He will raise up those who can mentor. You don’t have to be 80 to be a mentor. You just need to have a willing spirit to vest in the lives of others.
Passing Down the Wisdom
I had a sweet friend ask me to mentor her. My first thought was I have nothing to teach you. Sound familiar? I went and spoke to my Lady…..she said that I am perfectly equipped to mentor this sweet friend. What I have learned through the trials of my life, what I’m learning through my Lady, I have passed onto this sweet friend. She still has a long way to go, but she is getting there! What I learn from my Lady, I pass onto my friend. My Lady prays for this friend, which is what it is all about. She is my blessing. This is Our Story My Lady and Me.