Abundant Living Vol. XX, Issue 27

“. . . when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.”  – Proverbs 21:11 

Among the many important roles she played in our family, most notable was that of being the family scholar.  She was my great aunt who we called Aunt Jenny, except that was not her real name.  Her real name was Janie, not Jenny, and to all those elementary school children she taught during her distinguished fifty-year career, and among most of the town folks where she lived, she was respectfully known as “Miss Janie”.  (That should give you a little hint about the era in which she lived and the fact she never married.)

Aunt Jenny was my grandmother’s older sister and only sibling, and always part of the scene in our family.  She lived her entire life in the same house she and my grandmother were raised in, which was right next door to my grandparents’ home, that is until my grandfather passed away and she moved in with my grandmother so they could take care of each other.  I never remember having a meal in my grandparents’ home – ever – that did not include Aunt Jenny and some of her delicious recipes.  She was part of the scene.

Aunt Jenny had more knowledge tucked away in her brain than almost anyone I’ve ever known, like a walking encyclopedia.  Because of her unceasing sense of curiosity and passion for education she was a lifetime learner well into her nineties.  She never stopped reading anything she could get her hands on, and wrote copious notes about what she learned.  We found written evidence in her tattered Bible, for instance, that she had read it all the way through at least fifty times; thus, her distinction as the go-to family scholar.

Aunt Jenny knew a lot about a lot of things, but in spite of her knowledge and intellect she never came across as a know-it-all.  She would certainly share what she knew when called upon, but I never recall her being imposing or intimidating, and I think that is because however much knowledge she had, she always knew there was more to learn.

And that to me may be her greatest legacy, not her knowledge but her wisdom.  As the Proverb says, “when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge,” and Aunt Jenny was wise enough to never stop seeking instruction, which is why her brain was so filled with knowledge.  Aunt Jenny, a.k.a. Miss Janie, what a gift from God she was to our family, the community she served, and the generations of children she educated!

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