Celebrating Women 3: Laughter and Music


This month, I’m taking the opportunity to share a small handful of women who have had an impact for me. Each of them represents something I strive towards, a richness I want to embody and pass forward.


My father’s mother was the sixth born of 8 children from her father’s two marriages. A gorgeous Choctaw and Black woman living in the southern Midwest, she grew up in a musical family. They used to perform on the radio. When I turned out to have an ear for music(and be a story-loving goofball), as well, my mother said it came from Jerry Jack. Unfortunately, what I know of this amazing woman has come to me in stories and photos from other people as I never got the opportunity to meet her. I’m grateful for what they’ve shared.

My mother told me her name was Jerry Jack, and she answered to either. She said Jerry had told her that her father had wanted sons, but only got one – the rest were all daughters, and she thought he’d named her “to make up for it.” She did things her own way, in her own time, another trait I seem to have inherited. My mother thought she was a wonderful woman, which has been reflected back as I’ve heard about her from other family members, as well.


Like my mother’s mother, Jerry was a grand example of determination, resourcefulness, and perseverance. Maybe it came with the times, maybe it came from being from a large family, or maybe it just came from within. She worked as a musical performer, singing and playing piano. When her marriage ended, this was how she made ends meet.


My mother said she also had a love of stories and laughter, and my father’s cousin said the ladies of the family were quite the group of comics (so I get that from both sides, it would seem). They would sit on the porch and spend a great time laughing.


The ability to find and create laughter and stories and music, even when times are tough and life is maybe not exactly how you pictured it: that is what I want to carry forward from her.