My Mom on right with her beloved sister Darlene on the left.
Janice Theola Simpson Shockney was born in a time that seems very far from here. Far from cell phones and email messages, Mom recalls the first telephone in her home when she was the age of 9 or 10. Not only a time without TV but without air conditioning and hot water heaters as well. Her childhood was a time when milk-men made deliveries instead of UPS men. It was a time when stories were told for evening entertainment and doctors made house calls. When no one was afraid to leave doors unlocked or worried over children disappearing outside for hours because that’s what kids did, played outside. Until dark!
Mom was the middle child of Theola and John Roscoe Simpson. Darlene her older sister was her best friend and they both adored and spoiled their younger brother Donald. My mom’s simple upbringing in Nashville Tennessee would prepare her for the life she lived with my Dad, Nelson Gary Shockney, Sr. She and my Dad were neighbors as kids in East Nashville but did not begin dating until after High School. My dad told her almost immediately, “He wanted to make her his bride.” But they didn’t marry until Dad returned home from his service in the Army because Mom wanted to be sure and not make a mistake that might lead to divorce like her parents.
Mom and Dad lived in Atlanta and then settled in Goodlettsville with my brother, Gary, and then later me. Our little house on Moss Trail was destroyed by fire in 1970 which led to a move to Robertson County where we tried to blend in with the locals and learn to be country folk! The house where we lived was remodeled around us and over us and we endured calamity and chaos including a flood in the basement, a barn that burned, and a well that constantly needed re-priming to insure enough water.
We tried hard to become farmers but we weren’t fooling many onlookers in those early attempts at planting and harvesting. It was much closer to an episode of Green Acres than a panoramic view of Scarlett O’Hara’s Tara in Gone with the Wind. I assure you. But we all enjoyed living in the country with fruit trees and fresh produce. Mom became an expert at canning our bounty and we raised a few ponies and cows which Gary and I thought was pretty cool. Mom worked at the Social Security Administration until taking early retirement in the late 80’s. When Dad’s health declined to the point he could no longer work, they moved into Gallatin and enjoyed what Mom would say were the happiest years they had together until Dad died in 1996.
We are all shaped by our parents and I am no exception. I hear my Mother‘s voice when I remind my girls to take a sweater or they will be cold in the movie.
Mom believed in being prepared.
As a teenager, like mine today, I would head to the door in a hurry to leave only to be stopped by my Mom’s warnings to buckle up, have plenty of gas, drive safely, lock my doors, etc. And, like my teenagers today I would roll my eyes at the familiar speech. But that was my Mom always ready and trying to prepare me as well.
Similarly, Mom began Christmas shopping in January and would proudly announce being finished sometime in late summer. She had the presents all wrapped of course too! In December we smiled as we opened slightly ragged gifts with flattened bows that had been stored away in tight spaces. There was the occasional Easter when a forgotten or well-hidden Christmas gift was found unexpectantly and appeared in our Easter Baskets instead!
I remember when a much discussed and anticipated Y2K really got my Mom in an uproar. She saved milk jugs and filled them with water and lined the storage shed with provisions so she would be ready for the weeks of survival that might accompany said Apocalypse. The funniest part of this memory is she decided if all life as we know it were ending it would not matter if her house was dirty, so she stopped cleaning as the impending time approached, and vowed not to clean again until the threat had passed.
She loved planning for Holiday parties and special events as well. I can see her cook books in a pile on the floor of the den as she made her menu weeks in advance. Mom was a great cook and she loved to make big meals for family gatherings. My cousins Brenda, Linda and Gina would rave over her fried corn on Easter lunch. Nothing made her happier than to prepare a good meal and have all the family come to enjoy it.
Mom also loved to travel. The most fun though was the preparation. Her trips she would plan by researching her destination and then writing and typing the information later cataloged in a photo album like a copy of National Geographic. It was impressive.
One of the greatest joys of her life was her Journal writing. In them she recorded weekly and sometimes daily the seemingly ordinary events of our lives. By doing so she gave herself the gift of many precious memories otherwise lost in the folds of time. In her last years she would revisit them like old friends to help with her fading memory being depleted by the cruelties of dementia. She wrote these memories down for herself and all of us as well because she knew one day they would be precious to her children and grandchildren as a record of our family.
But more than the sweet, funny memories of my Mom and her ever-ready habits, Mom lived everyday making the most of her words and time. She began everyday in bible study and prayer. She looked after everyone that needed her attention. She always ended a phone conversation with “I love you”. She always let us all know how proud and thankful we made her. She wrote letters to loved ones to make sure important things were said and not forgotten. She told us that she prayed for us every day and she did.
A few weeks ago she had the chance to spend a day with my daughters, she spent the day playing games, telling stories of her childhood, laughing, and telling them how important it is that they marry a Christian man and raise a Christian family. She didn’t know it would be the last day they would have to spend this way but she made the best use of the day because it was a day she would never get back like every day that we live. That was my Mom.
If July 18, 2012 caught her family and friends a bit ill-prepared and not ready to say good-bye, Janice Theola Simpson Shockney and been preparing her whole life for this day. She was ready that night as she lay down to sleep to wake up as she wrote me in a parting letter, “I am not afraid to die”, “I have lived a good life”, “God has guided me in his counsel and now he is receiving me in His glory.” She had been preparing every day for the day she would wake up in Glory.
She was ready for July 18, 2012.
I am so proud that she was my Mother. We will miss her loving presence from our lives. She was our greatest cheerleader and advocate before God’s throne. We love you Mom, Your daughter.