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July 17, 2016

As a sprinkle of rain fell through the pergola, drops of evidence on our laps, but not a cloud in sight, Aunt Lorene said, “You know, when they asked if I wanted to be sprinkled, I said ‘No, I want to be completely baptized; fully put under’.”  She then added to me, “and when heaven opens up, I don’t want to be just BARELY there; just barely get in; no, I want to be (with her arms outspread) ALL the way there!” Her eyes were shining. We agreed that a little sprinkle wasn’t enough to drive us off the beautiful porch swing where we sat on that rather warm day. As suddenly as the drops fell, they dissipated and we were given more time to again introduce ourselves to each other. That day she must have asked me a dozen times “now what is your name?” I would tell her again, smiling, that I was Bennie Joe’s older daughter, Patricia. And again, she would exclaim, “Oh, Bennie Joe! We had such good times back then; I just loved him so much! He was just like a son to me!” My daddy was her nephew by marriage, but she never made a difference that I know of between hers and Uncle Veltman’s kinsfolk. I would tell her again how wonderful it was to get to visit with her and hear her laugh, and hold her hand. Visiting with her that day in her daughter’s lovely home is a memory I hold dear.

How appropriate it was to have those sprinkles fall, making her think of baptism, and have the chance as she so loved to do, to profess her love for God and her hope of heaven. I don’t believe it was coincidence that rain began to fall from an invisible sky.  It told me something I had wondered about for years; a spiritual question I had, and she answered it. I have tears now in my eyes remembering how she taught me from childhood to openly speak of my God, and to proclaim my love for Him. However, not I, nor anyone I have ever met, can do that so beautifully as she did. If she ever loved anything, she loved her God!

This woman, Lorene Farmer Jackson sure loved her man! As my memory holds it, she and Uncle Veltman were just about the best example of ‘one woman for one man’ ever! My favorite story of hers is when she told me about Uncle Veltman hurrying to get dressed for church before she could, and waiting outside at the car. She said she asked him one day, just why he insisted on getting out there so early. She said he winked and said “Red, I just like being out here so I can watch the prettiest girl in the world walking out to me”.  That’s about the same time she told me she kept her hair dyed red “because Veltman liked it that way”. Who does their hair to suit their husband??!! A woman who knows how to love, that’s who.

I was her girl. From 1953 until Brenda was born, “Trish” (said with a southern one syllable becoming two), was her girl. At least that’s what she said, and the way she treated me made a believer out of me. But then, wasn’t that the way she made everyone feel? Doilies, mahogany furniture, pretty dishes and marvelous food made her home a place for all to feel welcomed and of regal upbringing. Those are my memories of her Cleveland, Ohio home. That’s where she and her boy Johnnie pulled me in a little wagon to the store down a brick street. I still love brick streets. I love craftsman houses; stairwells with a landing; windows with fans; and Stroodle – a dish she taught my Mama to make. I love all these because they were the elements of a home where I knew this woman loved me. The same way you love anything that you associate with the people of good memories.

Yes, Aunt Lorene loved. What a great way to be remembered.

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November 26, 2017:  I couldn’t write this as long as she was living, most likely because I knew I couldn’t share it with her as her dementia had overridden her memory. Today, the words are flowing freely as she passed from this life last evening. I like to imagine she is able to know now what I am writing, and I think she would say,  “Oooh Trisha, you always were my girl!”  I love you Aunt Lorene.

“So he answered and said, “You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind’, and ‘your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10: 27

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