Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Live Like Jimmy

I started writing this post several weeks ago.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it.  But I knew I wanted to capture, in words and pictures, a very important point.  Everyone has someone whom they admire.  Someone they hold in the highest esteem because of the way they live, they way they love and for the acts of kindness they carry out.   In my life and in the lives of many, many more, that person is James Albert Roper, or "Uncle Jimmy," as I called him.   Now let me tell you some of the reasons why Jimmy was so special.   Jimmy looked death in the face on many occasions.  He battled cancer for well over a decade, repeatedly refusing to back down.  He fought cancer with courage and dignity.  All the while maintaining positivity and faith in the Lord. 
Jimmy devoted his life to loving the Lord, creating a strong and beautiful family, and taking care of other people.   His voice will always echo in my mind, as it was a very distinctive and carefree voice.  Despite being repeatedly told by doctors that his time was up, Jimmy lived his life with optimism and hope, treasuring the people he loved and enjoying all the pursuits life has to offer.  I have to believe that Jimmy lived life to the fullest because he understood, more than most people ever will, that each day we are given is truly a blessing.  
Jimmy loved his Saints!

Jimmy loved his Tigers!

Jimmy loved his beautiful wife, Ginger.  He created a legacy of three children and eight grandchildren.

Jimmy payed it forward.   He helped others and was very active in his churches, both First United Methodist Church in Slidell and later at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, and was also involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Slidell High School and Memphis East High School.  Here the East High School football team in Memphis honored Jimmy with his own Letter and helmet.  Their new stadium is being named in his honor.

Here is newborn Claudia meeting Uncle Jimmy (and Aunt Ginger and Aunt Kristy!) for the first time.  My personal favorite memories of Uncle Jimmy will include our time spent at Lake Bruin, particularly Jimmy's coaching of me in McLendon family domino tournaments... "Now, Meryl, are you really SURE you want to play THAT [really bad choice] domino?"  Mind you, we weren't even on the same team.  =)

After years of courageously battling cancer, Jimmy was called home by our Lord on March 27, 2012.   He fought long and he fought proud.  He never gave up.  Never.  He lived to the fullest extent possible, forever shaping the lives of all of those around him.  And here is further proof that Uncle Jimmy will always be part of us.   Just a few weeks after Jimmy's passing, beautiful James Monroe Kennedy, Jimmy's eighth grandchild, was born. 
 Uncle Jimmy's namesake, who is decidedly one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, will always remind us that life continues and that we should not despair in the adversities life throws at us, but rejoice in the blessings we have been given.  Every day is a blessing!  Jimmy knew that and I choose to live like Jimmy!


  1. What a sweet tribute to a man who must have been amazing.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

  2. You made me cry. That was a beautiful tribute.

  3. So, so sweet. Cancer is a nasty thing, but I love your story and how Jimmy lived his life and overcame his illness day after day. What a beautiful family he leaves behind, and what a remarkable legacy they will carry on. Blessings to the McLendon family.

  4. What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for yall loss.

  5. This was beautifully written Meryl. I teared up reading your thoughts about this very special man. Very touching tribute to a man you obviously cared a lot about.


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