Well, it is now one-week till Christmas day! Hard to believe how fast it comes every year.
I want to apologize for the awkward silence on my blog since November. I have figured out in the last 8 years my husband and I have lost both sets of our parents and I have also lost my Mom’s sister. Each one has been a little harder and each one has brought a unique sadness, but altogether it has meant some changes in holidays and family time.
We are managing and moving forward, but it has been slow and “mind-consuming.” This Christmas in particular will be very different without my aunt to be the one to bring us altogether. We will be having Christmas together, but it just won’t be the same.
I want to dedicate this post to my aunt who passed away right before Thanksgiving. This is long, but it will help you get to know me on a different level!
I want to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you for being here today to celebrate the life of Lauraette. On behalf of the entire family thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
My name is Bobbie Lynn Rider and Lauraette was my Mom’s sister.
I want to share with you some things about Lauraette and her life.
Lauraette was the second born child of Thomas and Virginia Cheatham. Some of you here may remember them. They were all faithful members at Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ.
My Mom Margo and Lauraette were born and raised in Giles County Tennessee. They lived on a farm out in the country growing up.
Sometime in their teen years the family moved to Nashville where my Grandfather managed the prison farm. They both went to and graduated from Cohn High School.
The funny thing is my Mom, James and Lauraette all went to Cohn High School. My Mom married and our family moved and settled in Dickson. James married his wife and started a family here in Nashville. So, they have known each other a very long time. Who knew they would get together years later!
After high school Lauraette eventually got a job with Bellsouth. She retired from there after 48 years of service. Quite an accomplishment these days. She worked part of the time at the Batman building downtown and even took us on a tour one time. She remembers being in the building when the tornadoes came through Nashville a few years back. They made everyone to into the stairwell in the inner part of the building for safety. She vividly remembers feeling the building swaying during the storm.
Some of you may not know that Lauraette never had a legal middle name. Grandmama had wanted it to be Sue, but it never got on her birth certificate. However, it could have very well been Servant.
Lauraette attended Charlotte Avenue and then Charlotte Heights when they merged all the years since moving to Nashville. She was a teacher, VBS teacher/helper, mission supporter, and as most of you in this room know, she loved to cook and take food to people. How many of you have received food from Lauraette, and then more than just on one occasion. She was a faithful member and made church a priority, if the doors were open, she was there.
Lauraette traveled with Christian group tours quite often and always enjoyed the comraderie and the adventure.
Lauraette was a part of the K Club. It started, I believe, as a group of single Christian women who got together periodically for fellowship, encouragement, service, and fun. I remember helping her get the house ready on many occasions for the group. They became lifelong friends.
I spend quite a lot of time at Grandmama’s and Lauraette’s house. I would often spend the night so we could go shopping the next day. Our favorite places were Harvey’s downtown, and Castner Knott and Cain Sloan at Green Hills. We would always get something to eat afterwards.
We spent lots of vacation time together. My grandfather made sure we all had bicycles. We would go to Fall Creek Falls and ride the bike paths, Gatlinburg and ride bikes in Cades Cove, and various other places. Every holiday found us sitting around the dining room and kitchen tables with plenty of food.
One of my favorite things about Lauraette personally, was that she enjoyed crafts. She could make just about anything. She taught me to crochet and knit and made me countless Barbie doll clothes. She would buy little kits and help me make things by hand, especially Christmas ornaments.
When I got married, I remember calling her for recipes. She would even talk me through recipes on the phone if need be. I have countless handwritten recipes and recipe books she has given me over the years.
Lauraette was one of the most giving individuals I have ever met. She bought me clothes for school, presents for birthdays and Christmas, and all kinds of jewelry and trinkets and crafty things. She always took us out to eat whenever we were in town and/or fed us in her home. She always gave us money for spending, school, our college educations, and cars.
More than that she always supported mission work and countless ministries. She just always gave you something every time she saw you. She was one of those people who would rather give too much than not enough.
Much to Lauraette’s dismay I was a very picky eater. She would always make me eat at least one bite of everything she served. It drove me crazy, but in the end, even though I never came to like most of the things she made me try, I’m better for it all now, at least I think I am.
Grandmama always called her Granny and complained with how slow she was. But, one thing for sure, Lauraette never let it get to her.
Most of you know Lauraette was a unique individual. If she put her mind to something, she would do whatever it took to accomplish that task. She was never afraid to try something new.
Lauraette spent most of her adult life as a single woman. I distinctly remember when she met and fell in love with James. James had been widowed a few years and when Charlotte Avenue merged with the other congregation and became Charlotte Heights, she became reacquainted with her fellow high school classmate, James Morrow. They were so right for each other and happily married in August of 2010. I always tell young women that there is always hope for marriage, since Lauraette met and married for the first time at the age of 70!
I would like to say a few things about James. I have only known him for about 8 years or so. There was never any lack of things to talk about with James! He was always loving and welcoming of all of Lauraette’s family. But, the one thing I will ever be grateful for is the way he loved and treated Lauraette, especially at the end. We visited a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. My daughter who is now an RN came with me. She commented on the way home how impressed she was with the way James was caring for Lauraette. He had everything sorted and ready for her medicines, her food, and anything she needed. He knew when meds needed to be administered and how. He knew what the doctors had said and had ordered. One of the last times I talked with Lauraette she even commented that she just didn’t know what she would have done without James throughout this ordeal.
It was always evident that you loved each other unconditionally. Thank you for that Godly example of what a Christian marriage looks like. Thank you for loving Lauraette the way you do.
I want to read you some of the letter I wrote to her shortly before she died. I didn’t want to wait til after to just say a few nice things about her, instead I wanted to let her know what I had learned from her.
I am so thankful we got to come and visit this past week. I understand you are not feeling well, but I am glad you felt like having us come.
I wanted to take the time and share with you some of my favorite memories.
I never really had just one Momma growing up. I was blessed to have three, Mom, Grandmama, and you. Each of you shaped my life and influenced who I am today. Some of these are funny, some are simply moments, and some are spiritual.
I learned how to be a lady.
– This meant always carrying a purse.
– Tucking in my shirt, when necessary.
– Chewing gum with my mouth closed, no smacking! (Or I was to spit it out immediately!)
– How to sit and stand like a proper lady.
– How to dress appropriately.
– How to smile and greet people and treat them kindly.
– How to sit and be still and be quiet when necessary.
– How to wear makeup and always fix myself up and look nice and neat when in public. I remember Grandmama always worried about how her blush looked on her cheeks.
– The importance of cleanliness and neatness.
I learned how to be crafty.
– I learned how to make Christmas ornaments from little kits.
– I learned how to knit and crochet. You made countless Barbie doll clothes (which I still have!)
– I learned how to do basic sewing, stitches and hems and buttons.
– I learned the joy of making things.
I learned how to be a homemaker.
– I learned how to wash and dry dishes, after each and every meal, much to my dismay!
– I learned how to sweep, I think you were born with a broom in your hands!
– I learned how to cook. You gave me lots of cookbooks, remember the old Dining with Pioneers cookbook? I still have lots of handwritten recipes you gave me tucked inside that cookbook. Mom never wanted me in the kitchen, but you were always patient with me, of course, that meant more dishwashing!
– I learned how to fold sheets and towels properly and to wash them regularly. I never really got the fitted sheet folding down pat, you were the master with that!
– I remember the countless meals served and eaten in your kitchen and dining room. I always sat on that little stool for the sewing machine.
– I remember the meals with Grandmama’s lima beans, your squash casserole, making sure we always had plenty of fruits and veggies at every meal. Sorry, I never developed a taste for the canned cranberry sauce that Grandmama would take out of the can and slice up!
– I learned how to keep a neat and tidy home, although to look at mine on most days you might be suspect that I got the lesson down.
– I learned the importance of opening curtains and blinds daily to let the sunshine in my home.
– I learned the importance of making up my bed daily, which I still do (well, at least 98% of the time).
– I learned how to make use of space and how to store things and take care of them.
– I learned to appreciate plants and flowers. I remember learning how to prune petunia’s properly.
I learned how to laugh and have fun.
– I remember spending the night and us lying in bed and getting so tickled, Grandmama would tell us to settle down and be quiet.
– I remember you telling me the “wide mouth frog” story and also sharing that with my own kids! No one can ever tell it quite like you!
– I remember taking walks around your neighborhood, probably because we were beginning to wreak havoc on your house!
– I remember just times of being silly, laughing and joking till our sides hurt.
– I remember riding bikes with Gangy. I remember all the trips to Fall Creek Falls State Park and riding the bike trails. The trips to Cades Cove with all our bikes, Grandmama would drive the truck and we could stop and ride for awhile if we got tired.
– I remember picnics and family reunions.
I learned how to shop.
– You and Grandmama practically clothed me growing up. How many times did we go to Castner Knott, Cain Sloan, and Harvey’s either downtown or at Green Hills to shop for clothes? We didn’t always see eye to eye, but I always came home with some of the cutest outfits!
– I remember going downtown to Harvey’s and eating grilled cheese sandwiches in that old diner style restaurant that was downstairs.
– I remember every year we went to the Easter displays downtown. They were always so fun, magical, and beautiful.
– You always taught me to dress neatly and appropriately.
I learned how to serve.
– I watched you serve our family and eat last and make sure everyone was fed and comfortable.
– I watched you take care of Grandmama when she needed it.
– I watched you prepare and take food to others who were in need.
– I watched you sweep every time you went to the beauty shop.
– I watched you fall in love and learn to be a Godly wife.
– I watched you help take care of Mom when she needed extra help.
– I watched you give money to others and to me and my family to show them how special they are to you.
– I watched you shop for and give presents at birthdays and Christmas to make everyone feel special.
I learned how to be a Godly woman.
– I watched you make church a priority all your life. When the church doors are open, you are there.
– I watched you read your Bible every night before you went to bed. You would often read to me when I spent the night.
– I watched you serve your church family and help others more than I could even begin to count.
– I learned how to guard my tongue and be careful with what comes out of my mouth, building others up, not tearing others down.
– I learned the importance of putting myself last by watching you.
– I learned to be committed to whatever God puts in my path and following through, by watching you care for and love others, even when it is hard and not always fun.
– I watched you prepare for teaching children’s classes at church and all the fun stuff you would do with them.
I could go on and on. I know I will remember some things later and wished I had thought to put them in here. So, for now, it was the best and most precious things I could think of.
You see, all these years I have been watching and learning. I want to personally thank you that even though you may not feel like you did many great and mighty deeds, your quiet Christlike example spoke volumes into my heart and my life.
Even during the times when I was less than cooperative (I know that is hard to believe!), I learned that you still loved me and just had my best at heart.
You have always been more than my aunt. I consider you to be:
– My second Mom.
– My friend.
– My teacher.
– My supplier/provider.
– My mentor.
– My Godly example of how to be a child of God, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt, a friend, a fellow Christian sister-in-Christ.
So, the prevailing comment I have heard in the last couple of days is,
“If only everyone was as nice, sweet, helpful with such a servant’s heart as Lauraette, the world would be a much better place!”
I want to challenge you to live your life this way. Lauraette would be so uncomfortable hearing us say these things about her, she never liked the limelight.
She just quietly served others. We have all joked we think she was born with a broom in her hand.
If she could tell you what is really important in life, I believe she would tell us to:
Love God and love others,
Go to church at each and every opportunity,
Serve others unconditionally in whatever way you can using your God given gifts, no matter how small,
Love and serve you family,
Love you husband,
And give generously.
May each and everyone of us live our lives with such purpose as Lauraette did.