Once again, it has been a very busy, somewhat stressful weekend. If you recall, a few weeks ago Mama JJ passed. They had a beautiful Catholic service for her in New York and spread her ashes over the Allegheny River. The Allegheny empties into the Ohio, so she can be in both New York where she grew up, and in Ohio where she raised her daughter and spent a large portion of her life. On Saturday June 26th her family had a beautiful memorial service for her in Newark, Ohio at the teen center that she helped establish.
Mama JJ was a TRUE Christian. She was one of the most beautiful women you could ever have the honor of meeting. She did not just preach being a Christian, judge if you were not the same religion as she was, or talk about doing good things, she actually DID them. She embodied the meaning of love and selfless service and her memorial service was a testimony to her amazing life.
There were over three hundred people present. Every single one of them she had touched in some way, shape or form. There were songs sung, music played, slide shows, and even the flight of an eagle(Lincoln is his name) to honor her life. There was a group of "teens" present that 5-10 years ago would be considered "high risk". Most came from bad families, contemplated suicide, were big into drugs, or were delinquents. Now, today, thanks to Mama JJ and the teen center, they are still alive, most have become Christians and are thriving in society. She took the kids that society and everyone else ignored and disregarded and took them under her wing. Her husband and her also took some of these kids into their own home. There were times when Mama and Papa JJ were struggling to make ends meat on their own, but were still open and willing to help these kids and and give them all that they could, because as the old saying goes, "God will provide." They somehow made it work. The pastor described her perfectly as "The Foot Washer".
For me, Mama JJ was like a second mother. JJ and I have been friends for going on 29 years and we are more like sisters than friends. We have lived together for a total of 6 years, and like sisters, we can fight like cats and dogs. There were times that if we got in a big fight Mama JJ would call me after hearing JJ's side of the story and ask for mine. She would give me advice, say things like "I don't know where she got that, I taught her better than that," and made me feel better. She never took sides, never judged. I thought for sure JJ knew about these talks, until I was talking to her a week ago, and told her about it. Mama JJ kept our conversations and everything said to herself. She loved me like family.
JJ and Foster did not get along all that well at first. They are way too much alike and their type A personalities clashed from time to time. Mama JJ knew this, and despite this knowledge, the first time she met Foster she fell in love. She adored him and welcomed him with open arms regardless if JJ liked him or not. Luckily, with time, JJ and Foster have become friends and have a mutual respect for each other.
I could go on and on about what an amazing woman she was but would never completely do her justice. She was full of understanding and grace. Even up to the moment she took her last breath. She never complained about the cancer, never complained about the pain. When I was in the hospital after losing Rosie, she called me and said, "Erin, I am so sorry. I love you so much, and although you do not want to hear this, I will be joining Rosie very soon. As soon as I get up there, I am going to steal her out of the arms of your granny and hug her for you." I have no doubt that she went straight to heaven. I have no doubt that Jesus personally escorted her himself, and I have no doubt that the three of them are enjoying each others company, waiting for JJ's family and my family to join them. Just as Jesus bore his cross and the pain of crucifixion, Mama JJ endured her pain to be rewarded with eternity in heaven. And just as Mary endured the pain of losing her child but continued to do his work and mission, I bear the pain of losing Rosie, but will continue the mission in her name and in Jesus' name. If I can become half the woman that Mama JJ was and make half the impact on this world, I will consider my life a success.
I urge each of you to take Mama JJ as an example, and try each day to give. Whether it be as simple as a smile to a stranger, to as dedicated as missionary work in a third world country, we can all give a little of ourselves and follow in the footsteps of "The Foot Washer".
About two years ago I started writing a book, which from time to time I will probably post chapters from. I thought the most interesting part of my life had past. BOY WAS I WRONG! The story of how my husband and I met was an amazing, romantic, and almost too good to be true story, but as we two-step through life, we have endured more than one couple should ever have to in our first 3 years together. Each obstacle that we face, the closer we become to each other and to God. So if you want to join us and follow this conga line, I promise, you will not be disappointed. You may laugh, cry, but I promise you will at least be entertained.
I am a wife to the most handsome Army man around and a mother to the most beautiful angel baby Rosie who grew wings on April 20th 2010 and the most beautiful angel here on earth that I am blessed w/ Raising, Avaleen Rose. I am a Stay at home mom and a photographer after years of working in the Emergency Room and serving as a medic in the Army. To say my life is interesting is an understatement at times. I never do anything the "normal way".It is either all or nothing in my world. Please follow me as I take you through the life that has now become mine after the earth shattering day of April 20th. This blog will be funny at times,sad, but ALWAYS honest