Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

Tribute to Josephine

We needed a babysitter for our 18-month-old preemie. We were cautious, not knowing really where to turn.

Then we found one – or maybe she found us. Perhaps it was just meant to be.

Fellow church members James and Julie Adkins were moving from Byhalia to Arkansas. Their babysitter, Josephine Kimmons, who actually lived in Holly Springs, needed a “new home.”

We were blessed. God had a hand in it, no doubt.

Josephine quickly became a member of our family. She came to the house daily to keep Erin while Daddy and Mommy went off to work.

But Josephine didn’t just “keep” Erin. She did so much more.

She loved Erin, and our baby loved her.

A still small Erin, who weighed just two pounds, six ounces at birth, would always take naps on Josephine’s chest while rocking. Pam would run home during the day or go home at the end of work and that’s where Erin would often be, asleep in the rocker/recliner on Josephine.

Even as Erin grew a bit older and bigger, Josephine enjoyed holding her while she slept. She didn’t want to put her down, which was just fine with us.

Erin eats well today as a 3-year-old. She also eats practically anything. Give Josephine the credit for that.

Our babysitter made sure Erin ate the right foods, ate at the right times, ate a variety of items and ate a lot. She was set on making sure our preemie gained weight and stayed healthy.

If Erin watched TV, Josephine only let her watch educational-type shows for her age. Josephine would constantly read to her and play with her.

Erin is a smart girl for her age, and a large part of the credit for that, too, goes to Josephine. She developed a love for books, primarily because of Josephine.

When Josephine would arrive at our house in the mornings, Erin would go running into her arms. When Josephine left in the afternoons, Erin would not let her go without a hug. If they forgot to hug, Erin would cry.

Josephine did other things too – cleaning, washing clothes – but her primary and most important responsibility was caring for our baby, and she did it with tremendous love – love we can never repay.

A few months back, Josephine had to stop her babysitting duties. The cancer she had been battling forced her to do so. She would often come to be with Erin, even though she didn’t really feel up to it. And, in our thoughts, Erin was the best medicine she could have.

Even though she had to leave our house, she didn’t leave our hearts.

She later moved to Trinity Mission Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Byhalia, where she could get around-the-clock care and attention.

Her cancer spread fast. Her health worsened. On Tuesday, July 12, Josephine died in her sleep about 7 a.m. A photo of Erin was nearby on a table adjacent to her bed.

We talked to her son Chris that night. He told us that his mom loved us.

“We loved her, Chris,” I replied. “We’ve lost a member of our family, too.”

Funeral services for Josephine Kimmons were Saturday, July 16, at Powell Chapel M.B. Church. She was just 58 years old.

Her obituary is in this week’s newspaper, but it doesn’t pay adequate tribute to this kind, loving, special lady.

I got home from work Tuesday afternoon of last week. Pam had already told Erin the sad news.

She came up to me, running and saying, “Daddy, Daddy, Josephine has moved to Heaven.”

In our minds, God has gained the best of babysitters.

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