Jerilon Olivia Bodine Sweat, AKA Joby, was my mother in-law. I remember the first time I met her. I was in 6th grade — a cheerleader for Parker’s lightweight football team. She was tall, had dark curly hair, and the biggest smile. She came up to us, the brand-new cheerleaders, talking a million miles an hour telling us how cute we all looked. She pulled out some pins she’d made and hooked one on each of our jackets. I remember clearly thinking… What a cute mom. Who is this lady?
I turned to one of the other cheerleaders and said, “who’s mom is that?”
They said, “Parker’s.”
Even back then, as a 6th grader, she left a big impression on me. That’s the kind of person she was. Everyone loved Joby. Everyone knew her and everyone loved her. Since that day on the football field, I have never heard one bad word spoken about her.
When we were in 9th grade she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was not given much time.
But who did they think they were talking to? Definitely not Joby-Wan-Kenobi.
She fought and she fought. She saw all of her children graduate, two of them get married, one of them go on a mission, and her first two grandchildren born. She fought for 12 years, through pain and injuries I can not even fathom. She is the strongest woman I’ve ever met.
One of the things I loved most about her is the joy and light that radiated off of her. You couldn’t be in a room with her without smiling. You would never know how much pain she was in. She would take care of everyone else before herself and you’d get it if you even tried to put her first.
She was feisty, fun, loving, kind, selfless, caring, and the best mother-in-law I could have ever dreamed of. I’ve never been around someone that immediately made me feel so comfortable and had me laughing the second I walked in the door.
I remember one of the first times I walked in to their house. Joby was standing in the living room with her back to me. No one else was there. Suddenly she flips around wearing a coconut bra and fake hillbilly hick teeth. I immediately started bursting with laughter. We laughed for a good few minutes while she tried to hold her fake teeth in.
I knew she was someone I wanted in my life.
She gave me the greatest gift of my life. She raised the man of my dreams. And I will forever be in her debt for that.
Joby Sweat passed away on February 17th, 2015. One year ago today. I remember that week like it was yesterday. We had traveled up to our home town, Heber City, for the weekend. It was Valentine’s day on Saturday. Like every Sunday we’re in town, we went over to Joby and Kevin’s for Sunday breakfast. We decided to stay till Monday since Parker had the day off.
I remember that morning… February 16th, 2015. I was sitting on the red chaise in their living room, watching Joby play with Porschia and Thea. I was worried about Joby. She looked different today. Something about her made me… scared.
I picked up my phone and text my family, asking them to pray for her, as I usually do when I’m worried about her. I told them today was different and to pray hard. I set my phone down and continued to watch.
Apart from that, it was just like any other day. Nothing special was happening, so the idea to takes pictures normally would have never crossed my mind.
I sat in that chair and when I was about to busy myself with something else, something happened.
Now I’m not saying it was a voice, but something in my mind said clearly, ‘Get out your camera and take a picture.’
I did just that.
I took this picture right then.
And I am grateful every day I listened to that prompting.
Being busy with a toddler and new born I had not taken very many pictures of them with their grandma Joby since Thea had been born. All together, probably none.
Something was different about that day. I kept telling Joby to lay down and get some rest, maybe take a little nap, but unlike every other day, today she wouldn’t. She looked at me and said, “I don’t want to miss any time I have with you guys.”
That sentence repeats itself in my head every day.
As we were leaving, she walked outside with us. It was freezing and as I hugged her goodbye, I noticed she had bare feet, standing on the gravel. I said, “Geez Joby! Get inside, you don’t even have shoes on.”
She replied with another tight hug and said, “I don’t care. I just don’t want you guys to leave.”
We said I love you, and that we didn’t want to leave either, then we got in the car and backed out. She stood in the driveway, waving goodbye.
We got the call the next morning. I will always be grateful we got that last day, and that I have that picture to remember it, along with so many great memories.
My sister painted us this picture that day. It’s by far one of my favorite things hanging in our house. The two children are Porschia and Thea, our daughters. The three stars are their guardian angels watching over them, Joby(Parkers’s mom), Jamaica and Whitney(Parker’s sisters), all of them gone too soon.
As I’m sitting here writing, tears streaming down my face and trying to see, I thought of this poem. I think it’s something Joby would say to us, so I’m going to share it with you. It’s perfect and if you knew Joby, you would agree.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
We love you Joby. Missing you every day, but seeing you every where we go. We will never know another quite like you…
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