This is my mom’s birthday.  Below is a brief description of her life.  The picture is one of the few pictures of just the two of us when I was a baby.  She used to polish my white high-top shoes every day while I napped.  Among her many talents was that she was an excellent seamstress.  She made most of my clothes until I went to college and everything she made was amazing.  Sometimes she created her own designs.  I imagine that she made her outfit and my dress in the picture.  (Her mother was also a seamstress and would take old discarded suits from others and remake them into stylish outfits.  My grandmother actually used bleached flour sacks while things were very tough in Louisiana during my mom’s teen years when her father died.)

I’ve been thinking about what a profound influence my mom had (and still has) on my life.  Hopefully, I am passing along the life lessons I learned from her to my children and grandchildren as well.  We can all have a powerful impact on the lives of others.  She still inspires me to do that.

Juanita Goodvin:  March 4, 1920 – July 14, 2009

Juanita Goodvin’s view of life is this: to live boldly and passionately and to shine God’s light as brightly as we can every single day.  Her legacy is her understanding that God’s incredible love for us gives us the freedom and the power to love fully and to live life full out through good times and bad. 

Her life started in Winnsboro, Lousiana where she grew up with very little materially but with love all around … and a huge garden.  She did her share of picking cotton after her father died, and it was her Louisiana roots that made her cooking famous with friends and family alike.  She went to nurses training in Shreveport, LA,  and became an RN. She sent her first check home to her mother, Jennie Alford and part of the money was spent buying one of her brothers Lionel D. Alford his first suit.  He went on to become president of Boeing in Wichita.  She and Lionel and her brother James all learned those same lessons of hard work and love.

Juanita joined the Army Nursing Corps and was chosen as a model for posters to recruit other women to become Army nurses. She took care of injured soldiers sent home from Europe during WWII.  She was a Captain stationed in Fort Smith Arkansas where she met her husband, Woodrow Wayne  Goodvin, (my Dad) who was preparing to join Patton’s Third Army.  They knew each other 60 days before they married on October 3, 1942 and have been married 67 years.  In the early 1970’s Juanita started a card company, Heart Thoughts, Inc.,  in Wichita, KS, and the company had, at it’s height, 85 Employees.  She was involved in the day-to-day business of helping each customer celebrate the major events in their lives.

Juanita and Wayne took many foster children into their family over the years and were active in the community, school and in the Greenwich Road Church of Christ.  Her church family was very important to her where she was a founding member and amazing role model.  Faith and family always came first with Juanita, and her sense of fun tied it all together.    She is survived by her husband Wayne Goodvin, son Grant Goodvin, and daughter Suzy Brown; grandchildren: Jackie Stephenson, Woodrow Goodvin,  Courtney Ruffin, Brogan Sullivan, Caedran Sullivan, Garrett Sullivan and Grady Sullivan (of Kansas City), Grant Goodvin II, Jason Goodvin, and Ellie Goodvin and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She is preceded in death by her son Woody Goodvin and her brothers Lionel Alford and James Alford.  Juanita always said these words to each of us each time we were together:  “Remember, I love you from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes.”

That thought warms me still, even now.   I’m not sure when she gave this picture to me.  On the back, in her recognizable script, it just says, “Me and you.”  

Love you, Mom.  “Me and You.”