Death urges reflection on life. Jo Anna’s life makes reflecting a joy. Our Lord’s call for her to come home, excites my desire to join her, in His presence!

I am a younger brother, fourth in birth order of six siblings. The grace of God was evid­ent in my life, though I was blind to it. I was born to Christian parents: church-going parents; every time the church-building doors were open and fellow Christians gathered to worship, to praise, to sing, to study the Bible, if possible, we were there; even when I didn’t desire to be there!

My earliest memories include listening as Jo Anna and Roberta took turns reading from the Bible. Mom & Dad had a ritual: each evening, if possible, the family came together and one of the older girls sat at the table and by the light of the kerosene lamp, read from the Bible. Many times I woke to realize I was being carried to bed. Several years later I was capable, and was encouraged to “do the reading.”

My mind “fast-forwards” over those years. I do not recall ever hearing either of my older sisters quarreling or arguing with Mom. The closest event to cause frustration was having to ride in the back of the pickup [our only vehicle, which was needed to carry “truck patch” produce to stores in town].

The ride didn’t bother me too much, except when it rained. The tarp we hid under usu­ally was not clean. I did not realize the “problem” that mode of transportation caused for High School Age girls.

There were times when I “resented” Jo Anna. She got to leave the garden early to “go cook cornbread for supper.” Then there were times when I appreciated her, such as when she agreed to pick the okra [all eight rows] and we didn’t have to get into that wet, prickly, sticky stuff! She “owned” the okra patch at twenty-five cents per “picking.” At that point, I had no concept of money being important to high school aged girls.

Jo Anna also made our lunch sandwiches, usually of peanut butter and Karo Syrup on home-made bread. Holes in the bread meant that Lunch-time was always sticky. Years later Jo apologized for having put “a lot more syrup” on her sandwich.

Mom kept scraps of cloth, to use in quilting. Her evenings were always busy. Depending on the time of year, she would crochet or do other types of needle-work with her hands. Jo Anna was a quick study in learning to use her hands. While still in high school, Jo Anna crocheted either a bed spread or table cloth [pineapple design] for a neighbor. I don’t recall her pay or the time taken to finish the thing. I remember Mom being pleased with Jo’s accomplishment.

I can “see” Jo Anna sitting in church on Sunday and Wednesday evening services and taking short-hand notes as Brother Ivy preached his English sermon. [She followed the French sermon, but did not take notes.] Later, at home, for our benefit, she translated her notes.

I recall Mom being excitedly pleased that Jo Anna was valedictorian of her high school class. I remember hearing her tell Jo, “Your education is something no one can take from you.”

Jo Anna enrolled in Kentucky Bible College in Louisville, and promptly met Bob Mor­row! Jo earned an Associate Degree in Bible Studies before marrying Bob. Their marriage las­ted until God called Jo home.

In one conversation, Jo Anna told me that she always gave her understanding and her wish as they discussed situations before making decisions. Then she submitted her will to the decision Bob made. She was obedient to her vows made before God.

When Maude and I married, one bridesmaid dress had not arrived. After the two pm mail call [last of the day] we bought material at the local store and Jo Anna and Joyce [then age 14], began sewing a “bridesmaids” dress plus the head piece for Roberta to wear in our 8:00 pm wed­ding. Years later I realized the pressure they must have felt.

Jo never lost her love of “hand-work.” On her last trip to Woodland Senior Citizen Week, she visited with old friends, as she worked her hands. She worked in the fabric department of Wal-Mart to “help” send supplies to the Philippines and Africa. Frustration set in when her eyes began to dim. Even then Jo’s desire was that “His will be done” in her life.

In life and in death, Jo Anna was and continues to be an inspiration for me. I had to be­come an adult before my understanding appreciated her life-example. The “Good Wife” description in Proverbs 31:10-31, is a fitting tribute to my sister, Jo Anna (Smith) Morrow. For her, I am grateful to God.