My mom’s side of the family is very close. We always have been, and I pray that we always will be. For several years, Ann Marie was our youngest cousin. Until she turned like 10 and her parents were surprised with another baby on the way, then Sammy became our youngest cousin. Point is, she was the “baby” of the family for many years.
She was such a joy to watch grow up as a little girl. She was sweet with just a little dash of sass. She could shake her little puffy diaper booty with the rest of them when an Alan Jackson song came on the radio. She was happy, funny, smart, humble, and always on-the-go. Quite frankly, those words still perfectly describe our sweet Ann Marie.
Four years ago, she decided to move away to college. Which is totally fine, but she was the baby…and the first in our family to move away. You see, there’s a really great college in our town that we were all fortunate enough to attend and receive our Bachelors’ Degrees in various fields...Early Childhood Education, Accounting, Business, Nursing, Communications. But like I said, Ann Marie is on-the-go….she was meant to head her own, new direction. She moved less than two hours away to attend The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. It wasn’t far, but it was far enough for our close-knit family.
She has grown into a beautiful young woman that we are all so proud of. She and her mom, my Aunt Samantha have a genuinely inspiring mother-daughter relationship. They are each other’s biggest fans and best friends. A few years ago, Samantha began a battle against breast cancer….she remained strong and optimistic through the whole process. She had the support of so many friends and family. Thousands of prayers were lifted in her name. Ann Marie was her mom’s biggest cheerleader during all the sickness and treatments. She won the fight and beat the disease. We are all beyond thankful for this tremendous blessing!!
She is the best sister and middle child for their family. She and her older brother Jared are T.I.G.H.T. They have each other’s backs and love enjoy spending time together. She and Sammy, her younger brother….they are buddies. She’s just the BEST sister for her brothers.
Now that we’re into the 2nd round of cousins, Ann Marie LOVES all the babies. And the babies have all loved her! She will be a wonderful mom one day.
She’s a great friend and is a “best friend” to so many people! Thanks to her UTC experience, she now has a HUGE circle of best friends. It’s been neat to watch her blossom during college and see pictures of what seems like hundreds of new friends.
And, she’s one of my best friends. We laugh…..ALOT. Cry sometimes. Vent to each other. Cling to each other. She may be 10 years younger than me, but it’s never seemed that way. She just fits. We've actually been told we could be sisters because some people see similarities in us. What a compliment!
(This is one of my very favorite memories. Several of us made a trip to Disney World. Most of us drove to Florida and the very next day, Robert & Sarah flew in because of their work schedules. We thought it would be hilarious if we made posters and were waiting at the gait screaming, shouting, cheering, jumping around...basically acting like fools...when they got off the plane. Like we hadn't seen them in years, when in fact, we just saw them the day before. The looks on their faces were priceless. And then, the nice lady we were on the elevator with, when she asked about this "special homecoming" HA...we had to break it to her it was just a joke, and she thought it was hilarious. Ahhh...good times.)
Last Saturday Ann Marie graduated from UTC with her BS in Political Science with an emphasis in Legal Studies and a Minor in History. whew....that was a mouthful. Two days later, she began working for a TN State Senator’s office. (I call her my “little Oliva” to reference our love for Scandal.) Several weeks ago, she called us all the day she was offered the job. She was BEYOND thrilled and could barely get the words out between all of her giggles. Which is perfectly fitting behavior for her. She giggles all the time. It’s infectious.
Her future is bright and promising. She’s ready to plant new roots. (Her words, not mine.) She has made us proud. She is a blessing to our family and will be a blessing to others. She is loved. She is ours.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
Congratulations Ann Marieney!!! You deserve every great blessing that's headed your way! We love you and we are proud of you!