I guess I have been delaying the update of the blog because once I move to September, I have to talk about Nannie. On the first day of September, 2012, my Nannie passed away. It was a very sad day indeed. Of course I have known and loved Nannie my entire life. But, once I began to have children, rambunctious little boys of my own, I began to really feel a lot closer to her. I knew she was one of the few people who really understood what I was going through with them. And, I knew her experiences had been much harder than mine. Her first husband died when her boys were 9, 6, 4 and 1. She told me once about how her youngest, Samuel, was just taking his first steps. She was so excited for her husband to get home from work, to show him what Sammy had accomplished. Unfortunately, that's the day Charlie died in a car accident. He never got to see Sammy take those steps. It was 1950. I can't even imagine. She had been a teacher before having her boys, so, she returned to teaching. Eventually, she and her boys ended up in Jackson, she taught school, bought a house in 1955 and stayed in Jackson for the rest of her life. I admire her for so many reasons. Raising 4 boys on her own, having not only a bachelors degree in those days, but also a masters degree, teaching through integration, putting 4 boys through college, remarrying in 1977 and losing that husband to a heart attack in 1982. She lost a son and a grandson. But, Nannie remained the sweetest and most kind person you might ever meet. You would have never known all she had endured. One thing she said to me, not too long ago, sticks with me, and has really become my mantra over the past few years. The boys and I were visiting her apartment and I was going around behind them, removing breakable things from reach. Nannie sort of laughed and said, I used to do that same thing when the boys and I would visit Auntie (her step-mother-in-law). Then she said, her father-in-law came up behind her and patted her on the back one day and told her, don't worry Helen, they won't be young forever. That has really stuck with me and I try to remember it when they boys are all over the place. Another thing I remember was when Luke was born, she said to me, you know, I won't be around to see him grow up, and that makes me sad (she was 92 at the time). I said, Nannie, don't say that! But, of course it was true and that makes me sad. In the last few months of her life, I really understood the phrase, "this mortal coil" and was, in a small part, glad for her that she was finally released. But, I will miss her still, undoubtedly. She's an inspiration and I hope I can live my life half as well as she lived hers.
A few pictures of Nannie and my boys:
Helen McCall Burnett passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 1, at the Orchard in Ridgeland, Miss. following a brief illness. She was 97.
A longtime Jackson resident, Mrs. Burnett was retired from the Jackson Public School System where she taught second grade at Duling Elementary, Davis, Lake and schools in Prentiss, Laurel, Seminary and Richton. She was a graduate of Belhaven College and obtained a Masters of Elementary Education at Mississippi College.
Mrs. Burnett was a longtime member of Trinity Presbyterian Church. She was an avid bridge player and loved her regular bunko group. She was a member of Cosmos, Maids and Matrons, La Mercredi and other organizations and was a devoted reader.
She was the daughter of Sam and Katie Lee of Prentiss. She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles O. McCall, and second husband, Wylie D. Burnett; a son, Samuel H. McCall, sisters Vivian Braddock of West Point, Kathryn Downing of Laurel, and Mildred Livingston of Prentiss, and a grandson, Charles O. "Chuck" McCall III.
Mrs. Burnett is survived by sons Charles O. McCall Jr. and Douglas L. McCall, both of Madison, and Mike McCall of Jackson; and a step daughter, Marilyn (Bill) Michael of Joplin, Mo.; and grandchildren Celia (Jeff) Wilson of Haslet, Texas, Jeff McCall of Ridgeland, Michael McCall of Washington, D.C., Angela (Lee) Thigpen of Jackson, and Neil (April) Carter of Jackson, and nine great grandchildren.
Friends and family will long remember her kind and gentle spirit, disagreeable only when her beloved Atlanta Braves would lose a game. An aspiring pianist who played by ear, a young Helen Lee would steal away to the Belhaven music hall basement where she would delight her classmates with a little ragtime. She often played piano during assembly programs at schools where she taught. The family extends appreciation to devoted friends Dr. David and Cynthia Gandy, longtime neighbor Annie Bess Hinton, caregiver River Lee Moore and the Orchard staff for their loving support.
Memorials may be made to Trinity Presbyterian Church, 5301 Old Canton Rd., Jackson, MS 39211, or French Camp Academy, One Fine Place, French Camp, MS 39745.