Today marks 1 year since the passing of my dear mother-in-law Jeanne.
She has been greatly missed by all of us over the past 365 days.
In fact, I’ve found my sadness growing as time passes.
Each month and holiday and family party that goes by without her reveals just how great the void she left really is.
We miss you Jeanne.
The words from this post I wrote last year are every bit as true today…
You went home to be with Jesus one week ago today, and when Andy called me in tears just moments after you died, I realized what a profound loss your death would be for all of us.
You know the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”?
You are gone, and I’m now feeling the gravity of what a special woman you have always been.
Oh how I wish we would have had more time together!
Time not tainted with cancer’s theft. The brain tumor you battled for over a decade robbed you of your fullest life and it robbed us of the whole of who you were.
I want you to know that I’m sorry that I misunderstood you so much of the time.
You and I were probably about as different as two people can be.
You were quiet, selfless, and demure.
I am loud, selfish, and brazen.
So many times I’d watch you bite your tongue when people would bowl you over.
I’d get agitated and wish that you would fight back…put them in their place and stand your ground.
Regrettably, I often saw your response (or lack thereof) as wrong. I wanted you to be more bold….more outspoken…more me.
I failed to see that you were making a choice to defer to someone else. I believe it was most often out of love or respect for the other person…like you knew that God was your defender and “blessed are the meek”.
You knew that meek didn’t mean weak.
Your meekness was, in fact, deep strength.
Any old buffoon (me) can stomp their feet and demand to be heard.
But it takes a woman of strength to quietly respond in love.
Oh how I admire that now. I’m so sorry I didn’t see it then.
Can I chalk any of my ignorance up to my youth?
I think you’d wink and let me if I asked you face to face :)
You weren’t always quiet though…sometimes you were real feisty.
I loved those times.
You’d shoot off a zinger at someone who had it coming, and they almost didn’t know what to do with it.
Quiet little Jeanne had gotten a word in edgewise and it was a good, sharp one.
Those times were reminiscent of the sassy young woman who liked a good cigar, cheap wine and a fast ride in her Firebird :)
I honestly believe you were God’s special gift to Tom Gould.
Hearing the stories last week of how it looked like it was all going to end before it even began, I’m so grateful that God had a plan for the Gould family and that it involved you.
When I heard about the time (right after you started dating) that you were making lunch for him and the girls and he got a phone call from a hysterical ex-girlfriend and didn’t know what to do so he HANDED THE PHONE TO YOU, I about died. The fact that you took the call from that girl and smoothed things over in your calm and quiet way just blew my mind.
If I had been your friend at the time, I would have told you to run for your life! That this guy and his crazy situation was just too much. That the smart thing to do would be to get the hell out of dodge!
But God had other things in mind.
He wanted to weave a messy story into a thing of beauty for His purpose and He used you.
If you had walked out the door that day and never looked back, my entire life would be different.
I am eternally grateful that you decided to stick around, even after all of that. You gave me the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received…a wonderful husband and two beautiful little girls. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I’m so mad that you’ve been battling that stupid tumor the entire time I’ve been married to Andy.
I have memories of you from when I was in high school and college, but as hard as I try to focus in on them, they just aren’t as clear as I want them to be.
I do know that you opened your home to as many teenagers as your boys would ever show up with. Any time. Day or night. We were all welcome and your home felt like home to us too.
You let us eat your snacks and take over your living room, dining room, kitchen and basement. Sometimes all at the same time, edging you out of your own space. We’d wrestle on your furniture. We were loud and rambunctious and most likely annoying. But you never gave us a grumpy look about it. We never felt like you were waiting for us to go home.
Nope, you smiled your sweet smile at us, listened to whatever we rambled on about and gave tender hugs whenever someone needed one.
I love how you conveniently had a ton of laundry to do on Friday nights. You’d walk down the basement stairs carrying a basketful of whites so that you could sneak a side glance at all the teenage couples cozied up under blankets on the couches in the basement.
You weren’t obvious about it, but you provided a non-threatening accountability for us not to engage in any shenanigans on your watch. Thank you for that :)
You accepted and loved each one of us exactly where we were and at the same time you held a high standard for us all. It never felt like you expected us to change or be something that we weren’t, but we knew that you wanted the best for each of us and it made us want it too.
I want our home to be that way for every one of our children’s friends. I want my doors and cupboards and couches and refrigerators to be open to any and every friend that my kids bring home. I want to continue the legacy of hospitality that you modeled because it brought so much encouragement to each of us and it glorified God in such a special way.
As soon as our friends from high school got word that you had gone home, they flooded our Facebook feeds with kind words, memories and testaments of what you meant to them. All these years later, they remembered what a special woman you were and what a welcoming place your home was for each of us.
And then there is my favorite thing that you did…bring two special boys into this world.
You raised these boys into men who are wonderful husbands and fathers and who carry with them your quiet strength and selfless love for others. They are so smart and yet they continually pursue learning, they work hard, they love their families, they love God and they are a gift to all who know them.
I hope to raise children who are even half as wonderful as the four you poured your life into and who have been blessed to call you mom.
Then there are the 13 precious little blessings who called you Grandma, Gram, Mimi and Gigi. Four different names for one precious grandmother :)
I’m going try my darndest to make sure that each one of them hears stories about who you were and what you liked and how much you loved each of them. You can count on me to talk about you every time I have a glass of wine, a margarita, a Krispy Kreme donut, a chocolate covered cherry or any one of the many rich foods you loved :)
That tumor may have taken you from us early, but I have great hope and joy in the fact that we get to spend all of eternity with you.
Until we see you in Glory, sweet Jeanne…