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Meemaw cherished time with grandkids

We called her Meemaw, and Jan carried the name proudly.

It originated 15 years ago from the quick mind of Ashley, our precocious then-two-year-old granddaughter. She was riding her tricycle on the front sidewalk after being delivered to our residence by Glenda Garton Thomas, her paternal grandmother. Glenda pointed to Jan and asked Ashley:

"Who's that?"

In rapid order, Jan became Meemaw, Glenda was Mawmaw and I was Deedad.

Jan, who passed away Wednesday at age 77 years and 10 days, cherished time with her grandkids. In fact, she took early retirement from Lawton Public Schools so she would be free to babysit when needed.

Ashley is now 17 and looking forward to her senior year at Eisenhower. She also is enrolling in classes at Cameron and is trying to find the perfect fit for college.

Melody is 29 months younger than her big sister and will be a sophomore at Ike. She also benefitted from countless Meemaw sessions that included books, movies, rides through the mountains and summer trips to Chicago to visit cousins Eric and Rachel and their parents, Lonnie and Michelle Jacobs Starkman.

The girls, mom Janette Garton and I were headed that way again this summer, with side trips to Mount Rushmore and Minneapolis-St. Paul on the itinerary. Jan was having problems with arthritis and decided she would stay home rather than be a burden.

Arthritis escalated into extreme pain and a trip to the hospital. She was diagnosed with an elevated heart rate and AFib and stayed in the cardiovascular unit for seven days.

We brought her home for three days before she went into cardiac arrest.

Medics revived her and took her back to the hospital. After five nights in ICU, she finally was moved back to the CVCU and seemed to be on the road to recovery.

A massive stroke finally felled the strongest woman I have ever known.

Jan Puckett Jacobs was my wife, my lover and my best friend for 54 years. My only regret is that work kept me away from home too often, leaving her alone to manage her job and to raise Janette and Michelle.

She didn't need my help. Janette (Mrs. Randy Garton) is a Cameron graduate who is now band director at Eisenhower. Michelle (Mrs. Lonnie Starkman) skipped college and decided to find her way in Chicago. She has a good job and a great family.

The girls and Jan's sister, Geri Childress, have been rocks throughout this ordeal.

Jan grew up just outside Ringling in a small home with no indoor plumbing. She became a voracious reader; just about every corner of our home is testament to that fact.

She attended the University of Oklahoma and earned a degree in journalism. She was editor of the school paper her senior year and counted trips to Colorado Springs and to Dayton, Ohio, among her fondest memories.

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