Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Life Well-Lived

A funeral for a college chum took the Colonel to West Memphis, Arkansas this morning. As he is wont to do to ensure that he is never late, the Colonel allotted double the time required to drive from the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere to the town the other side of the Big Muddy from Memphis. With a couple of hours to kill, the Colonel sat at a McDonald's, nursed a cup of coffee, contemplated man's mortality, and marvelled at a woman's immortal legacy.

Janine was taken from us much too soon.

And, yet, she enriched more lives in her one short life than a hundred men and women together could hope to in a hundred much longer lifetimes.

The Colonel was not a part of the very close knit group that made up Janine's first layer of friends during the years he knew her at Ole Miss and since. At least, not in his estimation. In her smile and hug greeting at our annual reunions in the Grove, however, she displayed a genuine love that made even the outliers, among whom the Colonel was counted in those early years, feel like long-lost siblings.

Janine was the glue that bound our extended group together--strong enough to hold our rambunctious, globe-trotting circle together, yet elastic enough to include everyone and anyone in her acquaintance. And, she had many, many such circles carefully drawn and overlapped in her life.

One of our classmates lovingly eulogized Janine to a church packed to overflowing with family and friends. He recalled Janine's campaign for Homecoming Queen at Ole Miss, remarkable in that she was member of no sorority. Had it been anyone else, it would have been scandalous--such honors at a school like Ole Miss are steeped in tradition thicker and more unmoving than molasses on Christmas morning. Janine transcended all that. She finished a very close second in a field of five and captured the hearts of the half of the 7500 students on campus then without fraternity and sorority affiliation--and the grudging admiration of the other half.

The thirty-five years since that convention-busting homecoming queen campaign were filled with scores more campaigns, large and small, challenging the status quo and conventional wisdom to accomplish great things for friends, family, and community. Janine won't be missed, however.

Her legacy won't allow her to be missed.

Janine Buford Earney
May 15, 1954 - December 3, 2010
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