Thursday, June 20, 2024

Home Again! Home Again! Jiggity Jig!

As I mentioned on my post earlier this week, my mother-in-law died last week and her interment and Memorial Service were on Wednesday of this week. That was only yesterday, yet it seems close and so very far away. We had a private family service at the graveside early yesterday morning. We were trying to beat the heat and we did. There was actually a slight breeze blowing if you could get under the tent and out of the sun. Here is a link to her obit. Please don't feel you need to read it, but please feel free to read it if you want.

Mark and I married back in 1984 and I know that my mother-in-law struggled with the fact that her first child to get married was marrying someone who had been married before. She was a preacher's kid and her immediate family had never known divorce. It wasn't easy for her at first but I do know this. She became my mother, just like she was Mark's. I'm not saying we agreed on everything. I'm not saying she didn't get irritated with me or I with her. She was my mother-in-law for 40 years. Of course, we didn't agree on everything. I do know this -- she loved me and I loved her.

She taught me so many things. She taught me how to bake. She taught me how to entertain. She and I discussed the Bible together. She was the mother of twins and I was not only married to one of those twins, but Mark and I became parents of twins. We talked about twin things a lot. If I was complaining about something or moaning and groaning, she would say, "Who is the mother?" Or she sometimes just reminded me that I was the mother. She also loved to tell us to "buck up." She felt firmly that things happened in life, but you still held your head high and continued forward. In the first 20 years of our marriage, she and I spent lots of time together. There is a town north of here and there used to be an outlet mall there. I cannot tell you how many times she and I drove up there and back in between dropping off my kids at school and time for me to get back in car pool line. I would be burning up the road between here and there. She loved to shop and could out shop me even when I was in my 30's. She bought our children a winter coat almost every year of their lives. When Laura's sorority had a Mother-Daughter brunch, Grandmother (what I called her after our children were born) rode down to Auburn with me. As she always taught us, we held back and didn't rush the buffet table. By the time we got to the table, there was not enough food left for a meal so as soon as the program was over, we went to Burger King! Speaking of food, she prepared lunch for the family every Sunday after church. She did this until 3 yeares ago. She was almost 96 when she broke her hip and had to stop cooking for us. We kept it up. We took over the ccooking and she thought she helped and she sat at the head of the table just like she always had. On Sunday before she died, she attended church. She recited the Lord's prayer. She ate lunch at the dining table with her family and she quickly went downhill and went back to sleep in the wee hours of Wednesday, the 12th, and woke up with Jesus. What a way to go. Over the years, she told stories and helped her children keep their stories alive. I told someone at work today that I heard the Winnebago story so many times that I felt like I was there! (they planned an elaborate vacation in a borrowed Winnebago and she had two weeks of clothes for her and my father-in-law, Harry, plus four kids. They were going out west and planned to be gone a month. They made it to Louisiana and the Winnebago caught on fire. They were stuck waiting on parts and finally made it home without going any further than Louisiana. The story goes that was the last vacation their daddy ever went on. It took her weeks to get the smoke smell out of all of those clothes.)

On Wednesday's blogpost, I shared the words our daughter wrote and shared on Facebook. She actually wrote even more and spoke at the Memorial Service and she did such a great job. Mark and I were so proud of her. She spoke on behalf of the grandchildren generation and here is what she said:

Good afternoon, My name is Laura Elliott Short and I am Susie’s oldest grandchild, well by one minute. 

Susie Elliott held many titles during her long life; daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, aunt, but I think one of the titles she was proudest of was Grandmother, and in the last several years, Great-Grandmother. Grandmother, as we affectionately called her, had 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren and many more surrogate grandchildren who also called her grandmother because that is how she treated them, as if she really was their grandmother. 

Growing up, Glenn and I, and later Grace, were fortunate enough to live close to Grandmother and we were able to see her often. Through elementary school and even into middle school, Glenn and I would spend the night at Grandmother’s house about once a month. She would take us to the old Brookwood mall, and we would have Chick-fil-a for dinner and she would let us each pick out a toy from KB Toys. After that we would head back to her house to watch either The Shaggy Dog or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to wrap up the night. Every time as she was unlocking her door, she would look to Glenn and me and say “Home again, Home again, Jiggity Jig” and we knew we were home. 

Grandmother was always very proper, the picture of a true southern lady. I once got in trouble for putting the bottle of ketchup on the dining room table–the formal dining room was NOT the place for a plastic condiment bottle. But each summer when the Lengel boys would come visit, we got to picnic in the den. She had an old quilt whose sole purpose was for us to have picnics on when all the cousins were in town. I’m pretty sure the last time we had a picnic on that quilt most of us were well into our 20s.

Grandmother loved to cook, and she loved to feed people even more. There were 15 people in our immediate family, yet there was always room at the table for anyone who didn’t have a place to go. If there wasn’t room at the table, she would just add another table. One Easter, my cousin Thomas brought at least 10 hungry college kids for lunch and Grandmother welcomed each one of them with a hug and a smile. You were always welcome at Grandmother’s house. Going to her house always felt like going home. I’m pretty sure the Lengel boys’ favorite place to nap was on the rug in her den. Thomas used to always tell her to save his room for him, and she always had it ready for him or for anyone else who wanted to come home. 

Not only did Grandmother have 6 grandchildren but she also had three great-grandchildren. Emma and Evie loved playing at Great Grandmother’s house. Their favorite place to play was in her shoe closet- yes, the woman had a whole entire closet dedicated to shoes. She loved those girls fiercely and visits from them always brightened her day. 

Grandmother was always dressed to the nines. Her motto was that it was always better to be overdressed than underdressed which is probably why she had a whole closet dedicated to shoes in the first place. Once when I was growing up, she showed me a new pair of shoes she had bought. She told me that they were a size too big, but she bought them anyways. When I asked her why she would buy shoes that didn’t fit she simply replied because they matched her pocketbook. She said she would stuff tissues in them to make them fit. 

Grandmother was truly one of the greatest women that I have ever known. I know that when she got to Heaven she was greeted with open arms and the words “Well done good and faithful servant.” I also like to think that as she entered the gates of Heaven, she recited those words that she used to recite so many years ago, “Home again, home again, jiggity jig.”

Didn't she write beautiful words? Several things were funny to us and she was able to bring a little gentle humor and it was so welcome. Wednesday was a long day. As I said, it started at the cemetery. We then went to the church and had a two hour visitation. My feet were screaming after standing all morning in dress sandals. So many people came to pay their respects. One of our friends drove from Nashville just for the visitation and then had to leave and drive back. After the visitation, we had a minute or two break to run to the bathroom and one of our pastors prayed for us. We then went back into the sanctuary and filled multiple rows with family. The wife of one of Mark's first cousins flew in from Washington State on Tuesday for the service on Wednesday and then was flying right back home. My brother-in-law's two brothers flew in from Delaware to be with us. All of the grandchildren (our kids and spouses, Mark's sister Susie's three sons and one girlfriend, Mark's twin brother's daughter and her fiance were all able to be present which I felt was a miracle in and of itself. Our oldest granddaughter who is 8 was there and it was her first experience losing someone and it was hard. She told me at the graveside that this was very sad. I told her that "yes, it is indeed very sad and it is ok to be sad." Our daughter's two littles stayed home with the other grandparents.  After the service, our Sunday School class provided lunch for the 50 ish family members. Mark's mom loved party/tea food and we had finger sandwiches from Ousler's (there are stories about the places we've served those sandwiches) and several salads and chips and an assortment of brownies. Mark's mom always loved her sweets (he is just like her!) and over the last few years, she loved the mini ice cream cones (maybe bluebell?). She would always have at least one a day. My sister-in-law, Alice, went to the store and bought a BUNCH of those tiny ice cream cones and a friend brought them out at the end of the meal. One of our nephews (grown young adult) said he didn't realize that it would be the ice cream cone that brought him to tears. I'm actually misty eyed as I type.

Let me close with a few pictures of her. My brother-in-law put together a great slide show that was shown during visitation and he had pictures of her when she was young. These are from the last few years. We are going to miss her so very much.

It was right after this trip when
she fell and broke her hip.

Here she is between two grandsons.

Here she is with a almost all of the grandkids/greats.

Here she is with our generation.

Here she is playing "fort" with a great grand.

our son has a video of her reading and
it is beautiful

Well done good and faithful servant. You will be missed. Home Again! Home Again! Jiggity Jig!


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your mom in law!

  2. A life well lived and one so loved by her family and friends. Lovely words by your daughter. Her legacy lives on! Sending a hug!