Living the questions and trying to think theologically... and practically. Learning that these things are more synonymous than I once thought.

Location: Dallas, TX

Saturday, January 21, 2006


So I've been back in Waco for a week now. I'm okay, but still pretty sad. Someone asked me yesterday what it's like losing people who are so close to you and how you process and deal with it. I gave what she called the textbook answers. I write about it. I pray alot, cry myself to sleep alot, cry to people who love me, and I try to be as honest with God as I can be about the way I feel. That's what I do. I told her, "what you have to learn to do is to live life without the way that person loved you." To me, that's the hardest part. Losing my Maw Maw has been more like losing a parent than a grandparent. Since she lived about 50 yards from our door, I spent almost as much time with her at her house as I did with my parents at our home. For some reason, I look like my mother, although at the funeral people kept telling me I looked like my father, and I love people like my Maw Maw and her son, my Daddy, loved me. My therapist says (and I won't become one of those people who always says "my therapist says", but this is so good I have to give her credit) that it is a tremendous legacy of love. Maybe so, but it hurts so bad right now because I feel like I'm the last link in that chain. I know plenty of people love me a whole whole lot, but it's just such a heartbreaking thing when the people who taught you how to love, the people who love you exactly the way you love other people and really long to be loved pass on. Too many tears. Enough of that for now.

I'll leave you with this. In Mississippi, people don't let me officially preach, although everybody pretty well knows that's what I've been doing since I was 15. They do however allow me to give eulogies. I did my cousin's at 16, my father's when I was 22, and last week at 26, I wrote and delivered the euology for my Maw. It's pretty simple. I wrote it with all of the young great grandkids in mind including my seven year old nieces, Allison and Ashley. So here it is. If you don't feel like reading it all and I would never blame you for that, I think the last part is the best.

One of the last memories of my Maw Maw is a visit we had in the hospital on Christmas Day. I brought her a movie to watch. One that you great grandkids really like called “Because of Winn Dixie”. In that movie, a little girl remembers those that she lost by making a list of 10 things about them, one for each year she’d been alive. Well, I’m 26, and I could tell you 26 million things about my Maw Maw Ottis, but I think 10 is a good number for today.

Ten things about my Maw-Maw:
1.She was a social butterfly. Always loved a crowd and was a little bit obsessive about numbers. She loved to count the number of people at her birthday parties and funerals of family members and the programs she planned for the senior citizens groups she was involved in. She showed her love for people by playing hostess, and I think when you came to visit her or to an event, that really made her feel loved

2.She could make the best homemade biscuits you ever had in your life. Breakfast at her house was a true event.

3.She loved history and genealogy. And if she would have had the resources, I’m sure she would have gone half way around the world to track down the identity of one of our Tolar ancestors.

4.She was a softie when it came to us grandkids. I myself as the baby will no doubt spend the rest of my adult life trying to get over her endless spoiling.

5. She loved to read a Psalm everyday. God’s word was a part of her life.

6.She gave of what she had although she never really had a whole lot. She was never stingy in sharing her money, her home, her time, or her cooking. Maw Maw indeed was a true giver and almost all of us here today were blessed by her warmth and hospitality.

7.She loved her singings. Maw Maw got a lot of joy out of the old time hymn singing, and even more than the songs themselves, I think she loved the company of friends who were always singing the same songs.

8. Maw Maw loved a good story. She liked to read them, and hear them, and tell them. I know that she was really proud that all of you great grandkids love stories as much as she did.

9.Maw Maw was a lady full of compassion. She was kind to animals and people alike. She told me once that her mother always told her to throw out anything that would help a living creature because they all belonged to God, and of course as a result of this we attracted a ridiculous amount of stray dogs and cats. And as for her compassion towards people, she was a jewel of a friend to have. If you cried, she cried with you. If you laughed, she would laugh with you, and if you were made, she would get mad for you. She was wonderfully understanding.

10.(And this is probably the most important thing I learned from her) Maw Maw’s life wasn’t necessarily an easy one. She lost her mother at a very young age. As young woman, she lost a baby. In the last fifteen years of her life she lost a sister, a husband, her eldest granddaughter, her youngest son, a beloved son-in-law, and many dear friends. Still even up until the very last days, she had a real joy. As sad as things were for her, she always found things in life to love, namely her friends, her family, and her God. She was a lady who had a sincere faith in a God that always carried her through. And while there were many sorrows, she was always quick to remember all of God’s many blessings.

Today for myself, for my family, and for all of us who love my Maw Maw, Ottis, it is my prayer that we would have this same kind of faith- that though we live in a world where really sad things happen, our God is love. He does not forsake us, but instead he heals us and blesses us and holds us always.


Blogger Craig said...

Simply wonderful. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing it.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

seriously, janalee...just beautiful!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

you are too precious... I'm so sorry to hear of your loss but your words and memories are beautiful.

5:59 PM  

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