i grew up next door to three boys. being an only child myself, i spent a lot of time with those boys. those boys were my brothers. we played, we fought, we argued, we cheered each other on, and we loved each other. i'm not a girly girl (that may be an understatement), but i'm pretty sure that i have those boys to thank for at least some of that. we played football in the front yard. just because i was girl didn't exempt me from being tackled. we played wiffle ball. over the power lines was a home run. we played ping pong. i actually won some of those games! i give bryan credit for my basketball skills after getting beat down day after day in the gravel driveway. i never did beat him in a single game of 21. we played dodge ball on my trampoline....the trampoline that had no nets and no pads over the springs. we rode bikes all over town. we played basketball or kickball in the coliseum when it was too wet or cold outside. we walked all over campus with pockets full of fireworks blowing up ant beds. we played spotlight at night. we played pinball and pacman in the union. we shot stuff with BB guns. we watched GI Joe after school and played mortal combat. i even had two of my teeth knocked out in their living room at the ripe old age of 5. they were hard to find among the potato chips crumb mess that we had just made on the floor. we waited for the bus together every morning. these were my brothers, and i'm better for having had them beside me for those 18 years.
first day of school 1986
me - 1st grade, robert ward - kindergarten, bryan - 2nd grade, jamie - 4th grade
(as a side note, my mother had to have picked out that pink lunch box. there is no way that was a choice of mine! purple was my favorite color...see backpack!)
but at the head of all this testosterone next door was miss beverly (can i just say that i now know exactly how she felt surrounded by all the smelly boys?) and mr. jimmy. mr. jimmy was one of kind. he was one of the few people who could find the joy in every situation. i recently told the story of him during an ice storm around 1992. everyone was all worried, and mr. jimmy was out on the porch whooping and hollering as the transformers blew. he hooked up our gameboys and segas to the boat battery so we could play in the darkness during those few days without electricity. he took my dad in his patrol car to do donuts on the ice in an empty parking lot on campus! who said ice storms can't be fun?!? mr. jimmy made sure we enjoyed life.
mr. jimmy loved with his whole heart. he didn't have any girls at his house, and i filled that role quite nicely. he loved me like his own, even if i did have to endure those bear hugs and mustache kisses!! ha! i've hated cold weather my entire life, and on those cold mornings he would crank up the heat in his patrol and let us sit in there to stay warm while waiting on the bus. obviously, that was not JUST for me, but he sure made me feel like it. he had that way about him. you always left him feeling like you were the most important person in the world. one morning, i accidentally somehow let a bird in our house. i hate birds...let me make that known. i was flipping out that the bird was in my room, and i remember getting ready to unload a BB gun on that feathery punk when i realized that in all the commotion i had missed the bus. never fear. mr. jimmy came to rescue. he put me in his patrol car, and off we went. we caught up with the bus on the country road that took us to school, and just for fun he turned on his lights and siren like he was escorting the queen of england to the school bus! mr. jimmy made sure we knew we were loved.
mr. jimmy cared. he always had a hug or a kind word. he always asked how things were going. he always told me how well i played in the game the night before even if i hadn't. he always made sure that i had the pick of the litter everytime that mama cat had babies. but it wasn't just me. countless stories were told last week. he let girls into the dorm after curfew to keep them from getting into trouble. he took care of the grass at the church. he even helped some guys he didn't know load up some sound equipment (who were actually stealing the sound equipment) because he just wanted to help! ha! if the sun was shining, he was fishing. and he was quick to share his catch with any and everybody. he cared.
we lost robert ward. we lost miss beverly. and last week, we lost mr. jimmy. before i left my parents' house to go to visitation, i took this photo. (there is nothing like a delta sunset.)
as the sun ended that day with such beauty, i can't help but remember the beauty that mr. jimmy left us. there are so many more stories i could tell. so many memories. i'm thankful that i grew up next door. i'm thankful that i have those memories to hold onto. memories of a life well lived. i heard a quote once that said "when someone we love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure." what a treasure mr. jimmy was. and though we grieve at our loss, we rejoice in the victory that mr. jimmy found last weekend.
precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his saints. psalm 116:15