When Mom was in nursing school, the students were addressed by their last name so she was simply called "Armstrong." Then when she married dad, she became Mrs. C. Michael Lovvorn. One of Dad’s favorite nicknames for Mom, Jeanie Bug, came from her dad. But one of Mom’s favorite names for herself was Momma Jean.
Mom always wanted lots of children, but was only able to have my sister and me. God’s plan included many more kids for Mom, though, starting with all the babies, toddlers and teens she cared for during her nursing career. Then there were all the children and teens she taught in Sunday School and discipleship training not to mention all mine and my sister’s friends. When Mom returned to college in her 40s, even a lot of her younger classmates called her “Momma Jean.”
With a generous spirit, a great sense of humor and a compassionate heart, Mom made the perfect surrogate mother for lots of folks in need of love, wisdom and guidance. She always “told it straight” but added kindness when she did so. And no matter her age or accomplishment, Mom never thought herself too dignified to sing pop songs as she sashayed down the grocery aisle, to chair dance in public, or to give you a playful wink at a secret the two of you shared.She would play board games and charades with the church youth group, dance the hula with a bunch of giggly girls at a Christmas party and vogue for goofy family photos. At my sixteenth birthday party, she taught everybody the stroll and other dances from her youth. For mom, any day, not just holidays and birthdays, was an occasion for a party. She was the hip mom who knew teen slang, popular fashion and beauty trends, and all the high school gossip. Mom wasn’t in the know because she wanted to try to be cool; rather, she wanted to be engaged with us, to share every aspect of our lives. She made us laugh and cry and laugh until we cried. Often when I think of Mom, I am reminded of her exuberant spirit and unquenchable zest for life. I feel pretty confident the rest of her kids remember those things too.