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.
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.