Today we Celebrate Jake Gregory Wendling....
my youngest child...the baby of the family; born January 3, 1970 in Bossier City, LA. Jake was the only of my four children to arrive on his due date. He weighed in at 6 lb. 10 oz. and I believe he was about 20 inches long.
Jake was a good baby. He was the only baby I nursed and he seemed to be losing weight rather than gaining. What was up with this? We took him to his pediatrician and sure enough he had lost a considerable amount of weight for his tiny size and the diagnosis was "failure to thrive". I was devastated because I felt I was doing something wrong and it was all my fault. The doctor assured me that is was just something that happened and was not rare or my "fault". Once he began taking formula he thrived. Shortly after he was taken back to the hospital with a hernia and again I was assured this was quite common among baby boys (actually Buddy had had one too) and he had surgery as a tiny, tiny baby.
Jake was always satisfied. Never whining for more of anything and he was so easy to please. He played well by himself and with others and he always had a sweet smile on his face.
Now I know this sounds probably like such a biased mother and especially since Jake is no longer here on earth, but girls I am telling you the truth and his brother and sisters can vouch for me, he was a terrific kid and grew to be a terrific man. He was so admired by many and I know I can't say enough nice things about Jake. I mean I am his mother for goodness sake. But today is his 41st birthday and as it happens he is spending his first birthday in Heaven.
You know the first year after the death of a loved one, we're filled with so many "firsts" and I was so dreading the thought of Christmas without Jake but I just had a good talk with Jesus and I then spoke honestly to myself and realized I can dread all these firsts and be despondent and depressed because Jake is not here and he is so missed, or I can turn it around and realize that this is the first of all of those firsts that Jake is in his heavenly home and I can only imagine how marvelous and wonderful it is for him and I know this may not be comforting to everyone and we all deal with grief in our own way and in our own time and I surely respect that but I am choosing to think of it this way and it truly is making the day somehow more normal and bearable for me.
By Jake having his birthday so close to Christmas he kinda got the short end of the stick as far as gifts for his birthday as we were pretty much broke by then, and he was always still out of school for the holidays and a party wasn't easy to have. We usually celebrated his birthday with family and he always seemed to enjoy his celebrations. Nearly ever gift he ever received was a WOW with Jake.
Jake was a cheerful giver too. He once gave me a little wood stand with a standing mirror and an etched poem on the front with Roses. (I can't photograph it for you because of the glare) I'd like to share with you the poem.
WHAT MOM TOOK
"Most often when we think of Mom, We think of what she's given; The softness of a loving touch, A gentle guide for living; A nightly tip-toe in a room, An understanding look; But sometimes when I think of Mom I think of what she took.
She took a child and taught it how To live this life with pride She took those kindergarten tears, And kept them all inside. She took the hands that longed to hold Her child and not let go. Used them to push her child along The way, to thrive and grow. Took time to do some other things Like sew, and clean and cook, And never thought to ask for thanks For all the things she took. Thanks, Mom."
This is just one of the many gifts Jake gave me. He never forgot my birthday, Christmas or Mother's Day and he usually also remembered me on Easter with a plant. He never had much to spend but he took time in choosing his gifts and his cards; well I have some funny memories I'll share with you one day soon regarding Jake's method of choosing cards. I've always kept this little mirrored poem in my living room on a shelf which I keep solely for the gifts from my kids and I'd catch Jake reading this from time to time and getting a huge smile on his face when he finished. I treasure this gift and there is no amount of money that could make me give it up. I am grateful for every gift Jake ever gave me, but the gift I'm most grateful for is the Gift from God for giving Jake to us for 40 years.
So I must always try to remember and celebrate January 3 with Praise and Thanksgiving, not grief and sadness. For the past two or three years, Jake went to the woods with Mike (hubby) and I would send a plate of cupcakes or a small cake with them and they'd celebrate together or with whoever might be hunting that particular time. That was the special thing Mike did to celebrate Jake's birthday and they both enjoyed that.
So Jakey my boy, I miss you more than words can say and I long to hold you in a big hug and kiss your sweet cheek and hear you say, "I love you Momma" and smile that sweet big ole lopsided smile of yours. Your sisters and your brother long for you and miss you terribly. We live in such a paradox with broken hearts and also with hearts of Thanksgiving that you did not live to suffer each day of your life with a broken body and a heart of pain. But reality smacks us in the face and we know we have you in our hearts forever and one day we will all be together for eternity so we'll just say.............Happy Birthday Jake, we love you and miss you and hope your special day is awesome.
Memoriam published in The Shreveport Times 1/3/2011
All our love forever, Your family: Momma and Mike, Dad and Jill, devoted brother Buddy and Jess, "big sis"Lori and Marcus, your "little sis, Shari and Wes. Andy, Erika, Joe, Emily and Michael. Malcolm, Addison and Bella. Kane, Nayda, Ellie and Luke. Celebrating your birthday today will be your Home Depot Family and a host of friends and your precious family at North Shreve Baptist Church. Smile on us Jake and ask the Lord our God to grant us Peace as we go about our lives remembering the love you gave to all you met. Thank You Jake for the gifts you gave to us.
Read more of Jake's Birthday Here