A Tribute

On Friday, May 27, I had the privilege of giving the eulogy at the funeral for a wonderful woman named Jenetta Wilson. Since most of you don’t know Mrs. Jenetta, I’d like to tell you why she’s so special and worthy of every tribute imaginable.

I’d like to start by paying her a compliment I hope can be said about me. In my mind, it’s the highest compliment a person can say about another.

Mrs. Jenetta Wilson made the world a better place. This world is a worse place because she’s no longer a part of it.

Simply knowing her and being in her presence made you a better person. She was a delight to know, a treasure to behold, and an honor to hear. She was class and grace personified and those that knew her in this world will “Amen” my statements for many years. She made you feel important to her simply because the things that mattered to you mattered to her. She may not have cared that much for what you valued, but she wouldn’t let you know.

Bobbie & Jenetta Wilson

She was a true epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman. In particular the following verses describe her effortlessly.

Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

Proverbs 31:25-30

I was honored to give the eulogy at her funeral. Getting to spend those moments around her amazing family and the people who loved her most was good for my soul. I will miss going back to the Tompkinsville congregation and seeing her in that familiar seat. I’ll miss asking her about her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I’ll fondly remember the moments we shared and be thankful for them every day of my life.

As a final honor to her, I wrote out an acrostic to define Mrs. Jenetta. It’s nothing special, but it does speak to how special she was. I hope it’s a fitting tribute to a woman who made my world a better place simply because she was a part of it.

Jenetta was a source of joy. She had an amazing laugh and a cheerful disposition.

Jenetta was an encourager. She had an uncanny way of making you feel better about yourself. Even if the day had dragged you down, she had a positive spin to put on it. As a young preacher who made his share of mistakes, knowing that she always had something positive to say made seeing her a real delight wherever it might be.

Jenetta was neat. I’ll freely admit I never once saw her out-of-sorts or unpresentable. I did almost catch her one day. She had been sick and I simply went to pay a visit. She was sitting in the sunroom behind her house and I know she thought she was a wreck. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even when she wasn’t 100%, you’d never know it.

Jenetta was easy-going. She was always ready for an adventure but incredibly low-maintenance about it. She was up for every trip I planned, and genuinely bummed out when she had other plans. Her presence was always something that brightened my day and the day of those who joined us.

Jenetta was thoughtful. In a day when most people just share their mind at random, Mrs. Jenetta carefully measured her thoughts and words.

Jenetta was tough. You’d have to be to remain married to a farmer for 63 years. From their humble beginnings to their moments of tragedy, Jenetta remained formidable. She had plenty of health issues, but they never stood in her way until the end. She didn’t always look it, but she was one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.

Jenetta was authentic. Her “yes” was “yes” and her “no” was “no.” She was the real deal. There was no bologna with her. I always knew where I stood with her and so did everyone else. I’m thankful to know that I could be honest with her and get an honest answer in return.

One of the greatest honors we get as preachers is to stand before a crowd gathered in funeral home and pay the last respects to people like Jenetta Wilson. While those moments will continue to be special to me, nothing on that day will ever replace the countless memories that came before.

Mrs. Jenetta Wilson was a blessing straight from God. She made my life better and I have no doubt her family will continue to do the same. When we left Tompkinsville, the hardest thing to do was say “goodbye” to those we had come to love so much. Mrs. Jenetta was one of those people. I wish you had known her like I do so you could write these words as well.

Since you can’t, I want to leave you with a bit of advice. Find your own Jenetta Wilson. Find your own Bobbie Wilson. And Marilyn Miller. And Gary Dickerson. And Steve & Margie Short. And Kenneth Mills. Find your tribe of loyal, beloved, devoted friends who teach you more than you ever teach them. Love them, value them, and cherish every moment you get with them. Then, tell everyone else why that tribe matters so much. Tell them why Jenetta Wilson made your life better. She has earned it.

I’ll finish with the closing words of Proverbs 31:25. They are fitting for Mrs. Jenetta.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.