March 27, 2013

I Remember...

Me and Mom Mom.... #flashback

the way she smelled.

That she lovingly called me "Jenny Brooke."

I remember how she would ask me if I needed to "tinkle."

How bedtime was always a little more special at her house because the sheets were always fresh and she took her time tucking me in.

I remember she was always awake before me in the morning at the kitchen table with coffee and a crossword puzzle.

I remember how she would hum as if she were "somewhere else."

I remember her handwriting full of loops and curls that pulled you in close to read the heartfelt words she penned.

I remember how much she loved Ocean City and the "Birds."  I remember her listening to the Orioles game via the radio in the evenings.

I remember that she was a thoughtful gift Christmas time she gave gifts to her 7 children, their spouses and her 18 grandchildren.

I remember playing rounds and rounds of Skip Bo at her kitchen table.

I remember her dreams of being a writer.

I remember reading through her stories beautifully illustrated in watercolor by my Aunt Patti.

I remember the rejection letters she received but I also remember that she kept on writing.

I remember thinking that she had a great sense of style...what other teenager could raid their grandmothers closet and still have fashions that fit the day?

I remember the devastating story of the death of her first husband, William Penn in a construction accident.

I remember how much she loved the whole family being together.

I remember the way she used to throw her head back in laughter as her kids shared stories from their childhood (some that she was hearing for the first time). 

I remember her encouraging me to marry my best friend.

I remember that even though my grandfather loved me and treated me well...he didn't do the same for her and some of their kids (one of whom was my mom).

I remember my grandfather grilling her about where each penny was spent as he meticously recorded it in his big yellow legal pad.

I remember writing her a note after she went to bed one night telling her that God never intended for her to have to live like this...with someone that treated her so poorly.  I left it on the kitchen table where I knew she would be early the next morning with her coffee and her crossword puzzle.  I remember waking that morning finding a note next to my bed that she had written in response.   

I remembered spending time with her after my grandfathers death.  Helping her look for any money he may have hid since he left her none in his will.  We opened up the safe to find nothing but Sweet and Low packets.  Then we looked all through the sides of waterbed mattress and the dresser drawers still hoping she would find something but instead we found nothingShe voiced her pain, disappointment and frustration.

I remember that she loved Wes the first time she set eyes on him.  She used to say that he must have been born on the 4th of July because God knew he was going to be a firecracker.


I remember that Wes used to stay at her house when we were dating and he would come to visit and they would play cards late into the night and eat dessert for breakfast.

I remember that she loved babies (she had 7 herself) and said there was nothing better than the precious life of a child.

I remember her excitement over being at the hospital for Micaiah and Joshua's birth and the beautiful letters she wrote to them upon their entrance into this world.  She had such a way with words.

And the beautiful blanket that she handknit for Micaiah...such a labor of love.

I also remember her encouraging me through the terrible twos...saying "You know why God made 2 year olds so cute right?  So you wouldn’t kill them!”

I still remember the note she wrote to me on my birthday that said "God brought you into our lives and you brought God into ours.  Thank you Jen!"

I remember the hope she found in Christ.

I remember that she was never really the same after the death of was the beginning of her decline.

I remember going to the appointment at JHH with my mom and aunts when the doctor confirmed what we knew to be true...she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

I remember hearing stories through the years of the house she used to live on near the Pimlico racetrack...”the only house on Only Rd.” 

I remember making it my mission to take her to that house with my uncle a few years ago...watching my uncle knock on the door and explain to the owners that his mom had very fond memories of her childhood home and wanted to see it if they would allow her.

Just newly diagnosed with Alzheimers I remember how a flood of stories came back from places deep within...stories we had never heard as she walked through her childhood home.  My favorite that day...the story of the creaking floorboard by her parents bed and how she and her sisters knew that their dad (my Pop Brunson) was getting out of bed when they heard he used to tease them by stepping on that board so he could hear them run back to their beds giggling.  I remember her going over to the place in the house where her parents bed used to be and checking for that floorboard...I also remember her delight when she heard that familiar creak.

I remember thanking the lovely couple over and over again for them allowing her to come in and look around...I remember explaining to them that she was newly diagnosed with Alzheimers and most of the stories that she could recall at this point were from her childhood so this was such a blessing to us.

I remember slowly watching even those memories fade away and her communication with the ones she loved make less and less sense.  At the beginning there was visible frustration when the words came out differently than she intended.  As time passed it seemed she tried to communicate less and less.

I remember when she forgot my name... 

But does she remember ME now?  Is the warm smile I receive when I visit a sign that she remembers that I am the little girl she used to dress up and stand on her coffee table and tell me that she loved having me and she was never going to take me back home?  

Now when I visit her in the nursing home I find myself trying to find ways for her to "remember" things that were so special to her.  It's one of the reasons I wanted her so badly to see the snow the last time we visited...I remember how she always loved the snow.


Scott & Becki said...


Your boys, your husband, your family, your friends, your community and our world is so fortunate to have you among us. It doesn't seem, in today's world, that many are committed, let alone devoted, to loving and being Jesus to others. As you clearly are. You are changing those around you. Don't stop.


Unknown said...

Scott...thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. Wes and I are coming up on our 15 wedding anniversary this year...would love to find time to catch up with you and Becki!

Colleen said...

This is amazing Jenna. Such a beautiful and well written tribute. Clearly you inherited many of her wonderful traits. Hugs to you.