When my mom last came to visit, I didn't take pictures. It's one of those dilemmas: I didn't want to cheapen the experience by taking the time and voyeuristic opportunity to capture it. Today I regret that decision, but not because of anything really related to Mom. It's about Genny. She had missed my mom's last visit, and when she heard my mom was coming back, Genny didn't want to miss her--just because Mom is MY mom. Genny loved me that much--No tribute to me necessarily, just a tribute to her love.
Genny was 71 at the time and still working regularly, so she invited us to lunch around the corner from Lifeway where she worked. Laura; Mom; Ginny; our other friends, Jenni and Becca, and I went to the Town House Tea Room, which might have offended me as a manly man, except that this tea room has a great buffet with all the food I want. Genny gave us a tour of the Lifeway library and she had a gift for Mom-- wild cotton. Mom was actually tickled that this white woman knew more about picking cotton than she did.
I'm trying to piece together the memories right now, because we buried Genny this week. She died unexpectedly, despite her 72 years.
Genny was way more than hostess to my mom. She was Laura's confidante; a member of our Sunday School class; and, mostly, our friend. I don't think Genny was at our wedding 11 years ago, but she's been an active member of our circle of friends for about ten years.
Genny, Damon, and Timothy at Damon's first birthday party.
Damon and me at Genny's 71st birthday party.
Officially Genny has served as the coordinator of our prayer ministry. As such she made a few phone calls, but mostly she prayed. If you imagine an old woman who can't get out and staying home praying, guess again. She did pray at home, but Genny was still working, and despite her failing eyes, still sometimes driving (God help us), and still getting out to play and serve.
When Genny heard about our bi-weekly coffee meetings with friends, she wanted to be a part of it, even though our little group is people from their 20s to their 40s, and Genny started coming in her late 60s. And she didn't come to be a mom or grandmother. She came to be a peer--for the fun of it.
That's not to say that she wasn't a caring person. My wife, Laura could trust no-one more for wise listening. But Genny's wisdom was more in presence than words, more listening than directing.
The favorite Genny story of most people at our church is about the mission trip to Venezuela. The way our mission coordinator, Becky, tells it: She saw Genny in a store one Saturday. Half-jokingly (but only HALF-jokingly), Becky asked, “Are you going with us to Venezuela?” Genny's response “Absolutley not!” For all of her adventure, Genny had never done anything like this. She had never even been on a plane, although she was nearly 70 years old. The next morning after church Genny walked up to Pastor John and asked “Do you think God can use a 70-year old woman in Venezuela?” Long story, short: Genny boarded those planes and served for a week sharing Gospel life with Venezuelan women and children.
We hadn't seen as much of Genny in the past few weeks, although Laura had kept in touch by phone. Mainly Genny had been caring for a son she expected to soon pass on himself. She beat him to heaven, which probably thrills her to no end. She was dreading the prospect of burying her son. Thank God, she didn't have to And thank God she's Home now, hearing the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."