What a very busy last week and a half that we have had. I posted a few post ago that my Memaw passed away, so we packed up and headed to north Alabama for her funeral. I asked my mom several months ago if I could speak at her funeral, so I have posted below what I prepared. I was so nervous about speaking, because I thought I would start to cry and not be able to finish what I wanted to say. But the good Lord looked after me and I think I did really well. I loved my Memaw, she was a dear friend to me, and I will miss her so much, but I know she is in a better place and she feels so much better now.
I have a lot to post about our trip to Alabama and then our trip to the beach. Look for pictures this week. And next week I will have to catch my blog up on our Anniversary Trip to Savanna. I can’t believe that Ryan and I have been married for 10 wonderful years.
Remembering Emma Jean Johnson:
What an honor it is to be here with you today sharing in the life legacy of Emma Jean Johnson. Emma Jean was the mother to four living children, one child who she has now reunite with in haven, she was Memaw to 12 grandchildren, the great-grandmother to 21 great-grand children, and a friend to countless.
I imagine that many of you are here today because Ms. Jean touched your life in some very personal way.
She might have cared for you while you were sick, cooked for you while you were in need, been a friend you could count on, or it could have just been that magnetic Red Hair that pulled you towards her!
What an amazing testimony to Ms. Jean’s life, just by looking around at the numerous people in attendance today who have been touch by this loving lady.
Emma Jean, also known as Memaw was not only my Maternal Grandmother, but also friend, my role model, and a hero to me. It is not just a coincidence that my oldest daughter’s name is “Emma”. She was named after the strongest, most caring, most hardworking, women I know.
I have witnessed and I have been told that there are countless accounts of Ms. Jean taking off and helping family and friends in need. I have been told that she would put her life on hold to go care for her dying father, her brother who was sick with cancer, her sister Dean, and the list goes on and on.
When I was young there were several months in my family’s life that we needed the support of family, and Memaw did not hesitate to hop in her car and drive 10 hours to Northwest Arkansas, and it was there that once again she put her life on hold for months while she cared for me and my two young sisters, while my dad transitioned into a new job and our mother recovered from surgery.
During this time I had the privilege to share a bed with Memaw every night. There I got to spend countless hours at night learning at the feet of this beloved woman. I learned that when she was a little girl her own mother passed away when she was only 9 years old, I learned that she helped her father raise 8 of her own brothers and sisters. I learned that she was expected to not succeed in school, but that her fate was planned for her in the cotton fields by her father’s side. She was a child of the Great Depression where she was discouraged from doing homework by her own father. She was encouraged to take her place in the kitchen and to care for her family.
It was through these late night stories that I learned that my grandmother was not one for conventional thinking or rules. While she certainly filled the roll of oldest daughter and cared for her father’s children, Ms. Jean/My grandmother use to sneak up at night and do her homework by candle light so that she could keep up in school. She would tell me that she was never the smartest one in her class, so she had to work extra hard just to keep up with the other children, but she never let that slow her down.
However, this type of work was never encouraged or accepted by her father, and certainly a college education and career in the field of nursing was not accepted by her father. But Ms. Jean wanted more in life, and wanted more for her future, and her dream for her family’s future. It was this tenacity and might that gave Ms. Jean the strength to leave home at 16 years old and attend nursing college.
Where she would graduate in 1950 with her Registered Nursing degree and licenses, and who would work at the Athens hospital for 60 years caring for more people than we will ever know. She would buy a dresser with her first paycheck, and merry the love of her life Bill Johnson 4 years later. This same determination would allow her to raise 4 beautiful children, who would all have her same caring heart. Who have all spent the past 3 years caring for their aging parents, who have not left their mothers side as she prepared to enter the pearly gates of heaven for the past many months.
One attribute that made Ms. Jean so incredible, and how she will be remembered by so many was her giving heart and ability to care for others. When I was young I remember visiting Memaw in the summer time to spend my annual week with her and Bill Bill. I can remember for a couple of years in a row while on my annual visit, that a man who I did not recognize would be up having coffee with both Memaw and Bill Bill when I awoke in the mornings. And I can remember many occasions where memeow would send this gentleman home with some of her fresh jarred fruits and vegetables, and a mason jar of sweet tea, and sometimes I would see her reach up into the old tea cup in the top of her kitchen cabinet where she kept her emergency money. I would watch her fold up a 10 or $20 bill or whatever she had on hand, pass it to the man, and send him on his way. I don’t remember this man’s name because Memaw always referred to him as “The Tent Man”, you see he actually lived a few hundred yards away from Ms. Jean’s house in a tent. He stayed there for several years, and visited with Memaw and Bill Bill frequently.
I know there are a hundreds more examples like this that many of you could also give. But it is these small acts of kindness and generosity that I have been able to witness from my grandmother that have always stood out in my mind, and caused me personally to want to be a more accepting and giving person.
For every time I read the “The Sheep and the Goats” from Matthew 25:31-46 I am reminded of all of these random acts of kindness that my grandmother passed on throughout her years, and I know she has found much favor in the Lords eyes.
Let me read these verses aloud:
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”
I want to conclude by sharing one last story:
One time when I was in the fourth grade Memaw and Bill Bill joined me at school for Grandparents Day. As they walked into the door they drew a question out of the “grandparent question box”.
The question they drew was “how many grandchildren do you have?” Memaw proudly said “eleven” with the biggest smile on her face. I will never forget the oos and ahhs that arose from my classroom of peers, and the honor that I felt to be standing beside my grandmother at that very moment. And it is that same great honor that I feel standing beside her now. Knowing that she has found much favor in God’s, and that WE will be one day be reunited in the kingdom of heaven.