I miss my Nenney today.
She was not my mother, but she chose to mother and disciple me.
Like Annie F. Downs said, “Sometimes discipleship looks like carrying biscuits to the end of the driveway.” My Nenney’s discipleship was a little different.
My Nenney made the best sweet tea. Every day when I came home from school, she was there asking me if I wanted a glass of tea. How could I say no? She also had fresh cornbread made for us. It had the perfect crumble with just enough butter on top.
She drank black coffee every morning. She was up before the sun with a cup of joe and News Channel 5 to start the day.
She fell asleep to soap operas on tv and denied that she watched them. They were simply “background noise.” But if you stayed long enough, she would let you know the drama of the episode.
She could not carry a tune. Standing in church by her was an adventure. As she sang loud and strong, her voice would go all over the place. She knew every word, and she would not deny her Savior joyous praise.
She loved to laugh, and her laugh was so wonderful. No noise would escape her, and her body would shake from uncontrollable laughter.
She had the most beautiful face. Her green eyes and delicate features welcomed you in with a warm embrace—an embrace you didn’t know you needed.
She gave the best hugs. Ever since I can remember, she would squeeze me tight and say, “Ohhh, you ‘ole sweet thang.” A term of endearment you didn’t know you wanted, until it fell off her tongue.
She was so kind and so generous. She would give you the clothes off her back if she could.
She was diagnosed with dementia several years ago, but that did not stop her from being my Nenney. She still laughed hard with no noise, she still called me her “mat mat” and “ole’ sweet thang,” she still drank black coffee every morning, and she still could not carry a tune.
Then one day, I came and she did not know who I was. She had a biscuit and jelly, a bowl of oatmeal, and her signature cup of coffee. She didn’t know me, but I knew her. That was one of the only days she didn’t know me, but I can still taste the sourness in my mouth when she asked, “And who are you, Dear?”
One day, her hospice nurse told us she had about 3 days to live. Her pulse was so low that they could not detect it with the monitor, and her brain had cut off communication with her stomach. A natural part of life that I was scared to endure. The heartache that I would feel from such a loss as my dear Nen.
My sister and I stayed with her and our grandmother that week. A few nights before she passed away, my sister, my grandmother, and I all sat around her bed and loved on her. We sang her favorite hymns “Love Lifted Me,” “Because He Lives,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and more. She breathed. We sang. A night that will be engrained in my memory forever.
She passed away in her daughter’s (my grandmother’s home) in August of 2017. She lived a week, instead of 3 days. She held her stubbornness until the end. I remember coming in and seeing her look so peaceful. She had met Jesus face to face and all that was left was her physical remains. Her warm face still there, but the life behind it gone. I could not help but kiss her forehead. She would have done the same to mine.
My Nen loved me. She took care of me. She bandage my wounds. She fed me meals. She made me laugh. She hugged me every time she saw me. She discipled me and showed me who Jesus was.
Sometimes, discipleship is carrying biscuits to the end of the driveway. Sometimes, it’s making sweet tea and cornbread and laughing so hard no noise comes out.
It’s been almost two years, since she passed. It’s still hard to go to my grandmother’s home and not feel the empty space where Nenney’s presence should be. I miss her smile. I miss her laugh. I miss the smell of her black coffee on the table and cornbread in the oven. I miss hearing her unable to carry a tune. I miss my Nen.
Happy Mother’s Day, Nen. Thank you for loving us all so well. I miss you every single day. I hope you’re laughing so hard that no noise comes out and singing out of tune with Jesus.