UP CLOSE WITH JEANIE By Jeanie Summerville
Whatz up, babies? I need you to know that from, time to time, I’m going to bring to you an update on some of the people who had the spotlight shined on them in Frost Illustrated because some beautiful, exciting and interesting things has happened in their lives afterwards and that’s why I call this article “After the Fact”. So, on that note, remember back in the April 11, 2012 issue, we brought to you Fort Wayne’s dancing machine Ma Bell? Of course you do! How could any of us forget all of those wonderful moves that she brought to us at the age of 90. Well, at the time of this writing, she’s had two birthdays since then and, believe it or not, this past April she decided to celebrate her life by having her own memorial service while she’s living. I asked her how it all came about and this is what she said:
“One day, me and a female friend, was at a local restaurant in the city for dinner and I told her that I’m going to dance at my funeral and she thought that was so funny and starting laughing but little did she know, I was dead serious. I was so serious that afterward, I contacted my grandchildren C.J. and Joyce to let them know that I wanted to have a memorial for myself before I die. After I told them why, they both thought it was a great idea and started putting things in motion because I wanted my memorial to happen soon, since I don’t know how much time I have left and I want to have some fun dancing the night away with some of my family members and friends as we enjoy one another’s company. I’m still active and enjoying life but I don’t want to take any chances because I can’t do something’s like I use to and I get tired with little things.
“I also explained to C.J. and Joyce that I’m not going to have a funeral and the funeral home already knows this, so when they pick my body up, that’s it. And, I just want everybody to think that I’ve gone to the store and forgot to come home. The reason I don’t want a funeral is because I don’t know how many grandchildren or great-grandchildren that I have because they don’t come and see me. They don’t know, whether I’m dead or alive so when I die, why would they come over? I don’t want anybody that don’t see me now to try to see me then because to me, it should be that way anyhow. Another reason I’m not going to have a funeral is because when people die, it’s going to be a big thing and you have to feed them and do all of that and I’m not having that because if they want to eat, we can eat together while I’m living. Plus, some people go to funerals just to see what the person is going to be buried in so they can have something to talk about and I’m not having that either.
“Then the big day came for my memorial service and I was so excited and happy because my grandchildren Joyce and C.J. had given me the best present that they could have ever given me by granting my wish and having my memorial at the American Legion Post 148. And, everything that they did was so beautiful to me, even better than I could have ever imagined. There was plenty of food, plenty of friends and family, the decorations were beautiful and Joyce and her two daughters, my two great granddaughters, gave me a dozen and a half of roses. Plus, to top it off Joyce made sure that my memorial cake was designed and color schemed just like a casket and I was so happy because that’s exactly what I wanted.
“We all had such a fantastic time together celebrating my life before my departure and when the men of Legion Post 148 came on the dance floor to present me with two dozen roses, that made me feel even more special. Because whenever I go to the Legion Post 148, I’m at home because that’s were everyone who loves me are.
“And, everybody is so good to me. Everybody even knows where I like to sit and they make sure that my table is reserved because I’m mom to the Commander Jesse Booker and the Legionnaires and they treat me like a mother and I love that. I know that I’m a old lady and I also know that I am loved and I try to live my life so that everybody will know that I am Mama Bell and I love everybody.”
I was there and it was as beautiful as she say’s it was and what a privilege and an honor that I feel to have been invited and to have had the opportunity to bring her some well deserved love, joy, happiness, beauty and some of peace of mind while she’s still living, we love you Ma Bell.
This article originally appeared in the July 24 print edition.