Sunday, January 16, 2011
Our Beautiful Jenna
My dear niece, Jenna, left us last week, much too early. Only 26 years old, she suffered for many years from bulimia. That beautiful red haired girl was like a daughter to me. I come from a family of red heads, my mom has red hair and my three brothers have screaming red hair. When my mom came out to visit and first saw Jenna, she said, "Hey, they have our red haired baby girl!"
Being only 4 weeks apart in age, Jeanna and Garrett were basically raised as twins. Jenna's dad, George (who lives just 2 houses away from us) had Garrett on Mondays and Tuesdays and I had Jenna on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so for 4 days a week they bonded like brother and sister. George had a wonderful buggy stroller, old fashioned, with an umbrella attached to the rig, bobbing to and fro to keep the sun off their pale skin. He walked to the post office, down our rural road and what a sight to see. This large, bearded man, pushing two adorable infants in the blue flowered buggy, not worried about his manliness. People would ask him if the babies were brother and sister and he replied, 'Yes, born a month apart.'
When George was renovating his kitchen, he left this cupboard unfinished so they had a hidey place.
But it was not all cheery, happy, smiley times. They did all those things together but when one cried, the other one cried.
Jenna was the precocious one, walking at 10 months, running circles around Garrett,
grabbing for blueberries and Garrett just let it all happen with his laissezz-faire attitude. We all took endless videos of the two, as both families had new cameras at the time. I hadn't seen those movies in years and years. We've been watching them for just short periods of time because it's difficult not to start crying.
This is one of my favorite photos of the two. What a sweet thing to just lay there and look at books, without a care in the world. Just brings tears to my eyes.
The first day of school. Can you say cute, but it seems Garrett has a mullet going on?!
Jenna has an aunt who lives in China and when she was 4 (I think) her mom and family went to visit her. Jenna was, to say the least, an attraction. With her bright orange hair, her freckled pale skin, and her overall cuteness, I heard people crossed the street to simply get a look at her.
What a sweetie! That smile would just make you smile!
I'm not sure where we got these matching rain coats but I know they asked to put them on whenever there was a slight chance of rain. Those curls could not be contained!
The two of them were in the same class their entire lives. Graduation day was a happy event. The girls from Poolesville High School wore yellow and the boys wore black. We had a big double graduation party in our side field. Those cousins had grown up! Both of them got 'Best Hair' awards in their class.
Jenna was known for her amazing, fun packages that she sent to friends and her sisters, covered in cat stickers and glitter. She would sometimes just take a page from the calendar-a-day and write "I love you!" and send it on.
George quit his job at FDIC to be a stay at home dad, starting his own computer software business, writing code up in the attic and taking care of babies in the kitchen. Laura, Jenna's mom, went back to work and took every Friday off to care for Jenna. Unfortunately after a year, the marriage didn't last and George remained in the big yellow house with Jenna, and her mom, Laura seeing Jenna on Fridays and weekends. But a few years later, Laura and new husband, Tom, moved 2 houses down from George with Jenna's two beautiful sisters, Lisa and Kelly. George also remarried and a step brother and sister, Ben and Becky, joined that marriage. It made for happy times with extended family.
George and Jenna were inseparable, showing up for family picnics, our weekly volleyball games, grocery shopping and other errands. George is the most giving, gentle and loving human being I know. He has given his unconditional love and his whole being to his daughter and it breaks by heart that he has lost his only child.
Jenna met Ben 7 years ago at college at the University of Maryland. They fell immediately in love and just before Thanksgiving in 2009, they married. Ben is a gentle soul and was Jenna's soul mate and in their short time together, they shared immense love. Thank goodness they had their time together.
I will miss those adorable cheeks, those bright red curls, and her ready smile.
There was a small gathering on Jenna's mother's family property last Friday, attended by family, friends and loved ones, including Jenna's two sisters, a step sister and brother, step dad and many aunts and uncles. Some of her ashes were buried near the pond which she enjoyed through her childhood. We will be having a 'Celebration of Jenna's Life' this Saturday in Poolesville to honor her wonderful life.
On Friday, Jenna had just gotten a job to help girls with eating disorders. But on Saturday, she succumbed to this prolific disease. A foundation has been set up to educate and bring awareness to young girls during the high school years.
Jenna, we will miss your sparkle, your cheerfullness, your loving, giving self, and how you spread the love to so many. You touched so many lives and I will keep you in my heart forever, my beautiful red-headed daughter/niece.