Happy birthday, Jessie!

I almost didn’t post this today because it has been repeated more than once. But this post isn’t really for you – it is for me.

So, forgive me while I indulge myself with memories and thoughts of the most important person ever in my life – my mother – on her birthday.

My mother, Jessie, was born on a farm in the Michigan ‘thumb’ on April 10, 1906. As she often said, she was born with the horse and buggy, and lived to see men on the moon, and the computer age. She lived through two world wars and a depression, the great flu epidemic, was widowed twice, lost one child in infancy, and two of her other three children before it was time for her to finally leave us here on earth. She told me many times how lucky she was that I was born when she was 41 years old, as I was her only child to survive her. I was unexpected, but not unwelcome.

Jessie (the girl in the birthday hat) at her 90th birthday celebration in July, 1996.

Today would be her 117th birthday, if she had lived to see this day. As it is, she lived to be 91 years, and 3 months.

Time is flying by, and it doesn’t seem possible that she has been absent from this earth for almost 25 years. She will live in my heart here on earth – until it is my time to join the rest of the family!

My mom wasn’t famous, or rich. She was just a girl, born on a farm, who did her best. She wasn’t perfect, but she was special to her family and many friends. Her favorite things were family, gardening, writing poetry, and spending time with children. She was a Christian to whom sharing her faith was the most important thing of all.

She didn’t like to cook, and said that if she ever took up drinking alcohol, it would be when 5:00 pm rolled around and it was time to start dinner.

Did I mention that she had a great sense of humor? When she died, and cousin Bette, aunt Verna and I saw her for the first time in her casket, my cousin said there was something wrong, but she couldn’t pinpoint it. Then she said, “I know! She isn’t smiling!” Then we both started crying … By the way, she asked to be buried in pretty night clothes, and she was – a pink satin negligee and wrapper.

Here is part of a tribute that ‘Curtie’ – the self-described pesky kid next door – wrote about Jessie:

Jessie always gave me a tour of the garden, site of the old barnyard, the reason for the ease at which things grew, I was told. It was here where Jessie’s enthusiasm for the simple things in life made an impression on me. It was early July, the second season for some new strawberry plants from Kraft’s Greenhouse. As we walked down the row, Jessie exclaimed, “Oooh Curtie, look! A berry!” And at that moment it seemed that I had caught the contagious joy of the first berry of the season. That thought has always remained in my mind, and I retrieve it often. It reminds me that the important things in life are the simple things, and it reminds me of my friend, Jessie.

Sisters Verna, Evelyn and Jessie. On vacation at Niagara Falls.

Jessie and great-granddaughter Julie. Jessie’s 90th birthday party.

Mom and me on Mother’s Day.

Aunt Verna, granddaughter Jen, and Jessie, in Bradenton, Florida, Christmas, 1993.

Jessie and Jen, on the farm.

Her granddaughter wrote to her ‘Gram’ for her 90th birthday:

When I was a teenager, I remember Grandma used to say “You never listen to me!” But Gram, you were wrong. I listened, and I watched and learned; and I believe that there’s a little magic piece of you inside me.

I know it’s that little piece that makes me stop on my walk to the train in the morning to watch the rest of the sunrise, or pull over to the side of the road to pick up a fall leaf or smell the lilacs in the spring. Grandma used to cut fruit apart to show me the beautiful patterns inside. She watered the plants and told me to listen to them drink. She brushed the dirt off the vegetables in the garden and bit into them, telling me to taste their goodness. She sees beauty and magic everywhere. I believe she sees God all the time, in all the good and lovely things of the earth.

Gram, I hope you know how rich my life is and what wonderful memories I have because you were there for me. What a lucky child I was to have a grandmother with an endless supply of “rainy day” projects and your bottomless scrap bags and boxes full of fabric, felt, sequins, buttons, construction paper, papier mache, modeling clay, paints and brushes! You were always thinking of Kevin and me, planning special treats and activities for us. And you always, always had time to listen to my childish thoughts and ideas. Maybe I was “spoiled” as a child, but I think it’s great that you made me feel like the most important person in the world.

Even now, I feel your unconditional love and your prayers for me every day. When I can’t sleep, I hear your voice: “Think quiet thoughts.” When I’ve messed things up, I remember your wise, “What’s done is done.” Most important I remember your “I love you.”

Thank you for all you have given to me. Happy Birthday!

As I wrote to you, mom, so many years ago …

Thanks, Mom, for doing it all. Thanks for teaching me what is important in this life. I only hope that I can do half as well, and half as much, as you have. I’ll try, anyway.

I love you, mom. Happy birthday!

This entry was posted in Family, History, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Happy birthday, Jessie!

  1. jeans2nd says:

    Thank you, Stella. I enjoy reading this every year. Jesse is famous – to all of us anyway – and rich in the most important things – love, family, friends.
    That’s why I love reading this yearly. People such as Jessie are are the really important ones, the ones we teach all our kids to emulate.
    Your tribute is beautiful.
    Happy Birthday Jessie.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. ernnburn says:

    A wonderful tribute to what is most important. I love reading this.
    Happy Birthday Jessie.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. czarina33 says:

    So much reminds me of my mom. A joy to read.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Ad rem says:

    Jessie….I wish you were still around to see just how much your family has blossomed these last 26 years. Not only did your daughter, Stella, have a beautiful and successful daughter of her own, that daughter has had a wonderful family of her own. Both grandsons are handsome, bright, and they’re headws for successful careers in the very near future.

    And….as if that weren’t enough, she designed, programmed, and became the principal writer of her own blog. You would be so proud of her…

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Pa Hermit says:

    A very nice tribute Stella. Mothers are always special. A chance to step back and remember what was important in my youth. Such patience they have, a love that never ends.Thank you Stella for the look back!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reflection says:

    Agree with Pa Hermit.

    Such a warm tribute to your mother, Stella. A person who might be described as “salt of the earth” They’re very special people, and make life better for all those around them.


  7. Sharon says:

    Always good to read about your mom, Stella! My mom was born one year before her–on April 18, 1905.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lucille says:

    A tribute to a dear mother is always welcome, Stella. Thanks for posting it again.

    I saved the photo taken of you, Jessie and your daughter at her wedding. The photo of Jessie in her red/white/blue birthday hat will go in that photo file, too.


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Menagerie says:

    I love this every year. When we lived at the cabin and I took the kids around the rock garden and forsythia, rhododendron, and hydrangeas, and into the deep dark woods, I always, always thought of your daughter’s words about her grandmother.

    I love the pictures of her. She was always a great beauty, Stella. You have good genes, and a great heritage.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Gary says:

    Absolutely wonderful Stella, thank you. I’ll risk embarrassing myself (I’m a professional so don’t try this at home) IIRC a Packard employee?


  11. Gary says:

    Thank you Stella, I remember a pick of the facility.

    Told you I was professional grade!


  12. weather257 says:

    Pretty darned good-looking 90-year-old!
    Happy Birthday Jessie, and happy memories Stella!!


  13. texan59 says:

    You never have to apologize for running this story. It’s wonderful, and I know that it touches my heart and makes me think about my Mom and Grandma, as both have been gone for many years. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

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