In my first memories of my aunt Jeanette, she was one of the coolest people I knew. Feisty, independent, and always ready with cool stories of college and Italy and family history. When my brother and I would go stay with her and my grandparents in Southern Missouri, she (and my grandparents) would take us on trips the the swimming hole, or into town for ice cream, or for visits with various extended family members. I also vividly remember spending hours telling Jeanette stories. Stories I'd read, stories I made up, or stories about things I read that I thought should have gone differently. She always listened and commented like it was the most interesting thing she'd ever heard, and was one of several people who made me believe I could be a writer and storyteller.
God and faith were number one in Jeanette's life, but family came in at a close second. Jeanette knew all the stories and was an expert on the family tree. She loved visiting and listening and talking with aunts and uncles and cousins -- no matter how distant the connection. Her roots are sunk deep in the rocky soil of the Ozarks, and the place where she grew up was part of her soul.
Jeanette was the best letter writer. She always sent cards for birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries, and they were covered with great conversation. If I wrote a letter, she'd write back. In another era, I am confident Jeanette would have been known as a person of letters. She loved watching the news and news shows, always arguing with the presenters and newscasters. In fact, she was never shy about stating her opinions about anything. This may or may not have lead to her fair share of lively "discussions". She loved country music, reading, and singing -- she had a beautiful alto -- and crocheting. Jeanette was a caretaker. Whether it be of her nieces and nephews, her parents, or her grand-nieces and nephews, she spent her life caring for, loving on, and watching out for others.
This week, my Aunt Jeanette went home to be with Jesus. I find comfort knowing she singing old hymns, listening to stories, meeting relatives who went long before, and worshiping at the feet of Jesus. I find comfort knowing her illness was not long and painful. But still our hearts are sad and she will be very, very missed.