Friday, December 18, 2015

Farewell to the Queen

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a very special lady.  This is my attempt at a tribute.  I pray I honor her with my words.

Jacqueline June Josephine Tellman Newmann was born on April 5, 1929 to Frank and Cyrilla Tellman in Kansas City, Missouri.   She was the oldest of eleven children.  She married Roy Newmann on  May 30, 1953, and they were married for more than fifty years before Roy passed away.  They had six children and fourteen grandchildren.  She died in her home in Crestwood, Missouri on December 9, 2015.

From the moment I met her, Aunt Jackie always made me feel welcome and loved.  She never once made me feel like I was anything less than 100% Tellman.  I know she cared for me as much as all of the bloodline nieces and nephews.  I didn't see her often, but she always made me feel special.   She talked to me, asking me questions and really listening to my answers.  She sent me birthday cards, always with a handwritten note about how much she enjoyed "our little family."  I always hugged her when I left a family function...and I didn't know until yesterday that she didn't really like hugs.

I found out yesterday that she had been a teacher.  I can't believe I didn't know that before.  I would have loved to "talk school" with her and hear her stories firsthand.  As it was, several of her former students were at the visitation and funeral.  They all remembered her so fondly.  More than one said she was the best teacher they ever had.  One gentleman spoke about how mischievous he was, and she would always say, "Why did you do that?  I know you are a good boy, but now I have to punish you."  What a powerful way to get someone to think about his actions, show that she cared for him and believed in him, and hold him accountable all at the same time.  I loved hearing about the library that she had in her classroom and how they got to take turns being the librarian.  It was also fun to hear that she was only eighteen when she started teaching in a one-room school house, and that she had 38 students in all grade levels.  (Can you imagine? Wow!)  That is quite a legacy to leave to have students from sixty some years ago attend your funeral.

Aunt Jackie's son-in-law, Gary Vien, shared some remarks of rememberance at the funeral.  He spoke of a conversation he had with her sometime earlier.  I loved this line from Aunt Jackie: "At my age, I have no regrets...I have made mistakes, but I have done my best to resolve them, and I have no regrets....How about you?  Do you have regrets?"

So how about it?  Do you have regrets?  The best way I can think of to keep Aunt Jackie alive is to live our lives without regrets.  Resolve your mistakes to the best of your ability.  Make everyone feel special.  Really listen.  Be friendly.  Write a personal note to your own handwriting.

Aunt Jackie personally embodied so much of what I love about the Tellman family.  She will be missed by so many.  Farewell, dear lady.  We will see you again someday.

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