Leaven Blog

Grandma was truly one of a kind

My grandma, Jesse Meeks, died on April 20. She was a wild a crazy gal.

by Todd Habiger

In my last “Walking Deadline,” I mentioned that my grandmother who was 93 years old recently had surgery to remove a cancerous growth.

Sadly, there was much more cancer in her body and she died on April 20.

I will always have fond memories of my grandmother, Jessie Meeks. She was, let’s just say, different.

When I was growing up, Grandma lived in Titusville, Florida. Every 2-3 years we would pack up and drive to Florida for a visit. These were special times — we would spend a few days at the beach, some time at Disney World and the rest of the time laughing and talking.

One of my Grandma’s particular passions was professional wrestling. She loved it and I loved to watch it with her. She would get so worked up when the bad guys would cheat. I definitely learned some colorful language from those experiences.

Years later, I came to realize that she believed that wrestling was real. I had long since given up that illusion, but she was a believer. I never could break it to her — it would be like telling a child that there was no Santa Claus.

Grandma was a housewife all her life. She never learned to drive. But I can’t say she never worked. Her work was taking care of others. She raised three children: Glenn, Beverly (my mom) and Jeannie.

When they were grown, she took in her elderly mother. And when her husband was struck by Alzheimer’s? Well, of course, she cared for him.

Later on, she moved in with my Aunt Jeannie and helped raise her children. Soon came grandchildren, great-grandchildren and . . . well, you get the idea.

At the time of her death, she had 13 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren, and 22 great-great grandchildren. I think of all the lives that sprang from this woman and all the people that she had an influence on in her life, it’s truly mind-boggling.

I will greatly miss my Grandma. She was loud and proud and never lost her sense of humor.

The loss of my grandmother has made me realize that life is precious and fragile. Recently, there have been some close calls with people I care about, and hope that all who read this will find time to say a little prayer for the three people I’m about to mention.

First, my mother-in-law Jean Wood recently had knee replacement surgery. Her knees have bothered her for years, and she finally decided to do something about them. Unfortunately, not all has gone as planned. She’s had a rough recovery, struggling to maintain strength.

Jean is one of the most thoughtful and generous people I’ve ever met. She’s a great grandmother to my children. She’s never missed an important event in their lives. She’s truly one of a kind. My thoughts and prayers are with her daily.

An old school friend of mine — Brenda Schulte — recently had a brain aneurysm and found herself in the hospital twice within a few months. She’s been undergoing some intense therapy to re-train her brain. She’s doing wonderfully, all things considered. I’ve been impressed with her humor and vigor in facing this challenge.

Brenda has always lived life to the fullest. She’s smart, funny and a great friend. We grew up on the same street and would ride bikes together or hunt for fossils in the ditch across from my house. Brenda is a trouper, and I have no doubt she will pull through this just fine.

And finally, my friend Tim McLeod recently suffered a heart attack. I met Tim many moons ago over the Internet. We were both in a fantasy baseball league together and developed a friendship during that time.

Tim is a huge baseball fan who co-hosts a fantasy baseball podcast. Every year he travels from his home in Thunder Bay, Canada, to Arizona to watch baseball’s best prospects play in the Arizona Fall League. Either on the way down or back, we always try to meet up for a night of dinner and baseball talk. Tim is recovering nicely from his heart attack. He’s slowly gaining strength and sounds like his old self.

If you could say a prayer for each of these individuals I’m sure they would appreciate it.

About the author

Todd Habiger

Todd has been the production manager for The Leaven since 1995. Under his direction The Leaven has won multiple design awards from the Catholic Press Association. Prior to working at The Leaven, Todd was an award-winning writer for The Catholic Key newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Todd is married to Lori Wood Habiger, a former Leaven employee herself. They have two children — Paige and Connor, and one dog — Joli.

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