Here’s to you, Jobie. Thank you for living like it matters.
I met Jobie three or so years ago. I noticed her for weeks at one of my favorite parks before I introduced myself. She walked at a brisk pace, with earbuds, and a black pouch hanging around her neck. I wondered about this woman and the black pouch.
After two months of smiling and waving as we passed one another on the path, I stopped her and told her she reminded me of my mother. I asked her how long she’d walked at the park. A long time.
I learned a lot about Jobie the first time I spoke with her. She graduated from Decatur High School in 1955. She married a guy from Hartselle four years later. She had a family and worked for Wolverine Tube until she retired.
Her real name is Josephine. It was a family name but her mother didn’t really care for it. She called her Jobie and it stuck.
Over these few years, I’ve joined Jobie on her morning walks a few times. I ask a question, and hear a story or two. I learn something of her life….a little part….only a piece.
Long before the days of free student transportation, she saved her bus money and walked to school instead. Jobie paid to get into basketball games with the money. Her boyfriend played basketball. Her family lived “on the country club road” and after a while of walking back and forth to school, one of the neighborhood ladies offered to take her every day since she was going that way.
She attends Hartselle Church of Christ. She wants me to come visit. Almost every month, she and her girlfriends from high school get together for lunch.
Her husband smokes four to five packs of cigarettes a day and drinks beer. She says he’s beating the odds. I’d say so. They’ll celebrate 60 years of marriage in November. I have 35 more to go to be like Jobie.
The black pouch holds her Sony Walkman. I had one in the ’90s and listened to my favorite CDs when I walked the exact same path. Jobie listens to the Bible.
I learn just as much about Jobie without words. She’s dedicated to her daily walks. I knew that before I ever knew her name. She’s shows up and she’s out there. She’s doing what a lot of people won’t do. It means something when we see others sticking with it, doing their thing, every day.
This week I went to the park at the usual time with the hope of another conversation with Jobie. I was delighted when I saw her, but not surprised. She stopped her CD player when I came up beside her. I apologized for interrupting her time, then asked what book she was listening to.
“I’m in Matthew,” she said. “About the resurrection. You know, Marie, no matter how many times I listen, I learn something new every time.”
Yes, I know Jobie.
She has a ravenous sweet tooth that she works to keep in check. She likes cakes and cookies, and though chocolate isn’t her favorite, she will eat a candy bar now and then.
I found out her son attended Mary Sharrott’s Kindergarten. Mary was my aunt.
I told her I planned to feature her in this month’s Here’s To You tribute. I explained what it was. She smiled all the way to her eyes and said she was honored. I told her she was living like it matters and it inspired me.
“Well, but what have I ever done?”
More than you know, Jobie. More than you know.