Were friend Jeanie Mercer around to opine on her death Friday, we suspect she would find its timing apt — close to Christmas but not so close as to obscure celebration of her savior’s birth. And near enough to the start of a new year, which lays the groundwork for renewal. This is how we recall Jeanie, a member of the Trib Board of Contributors for more than 30 years who championed the daily paper as a vehicle for in-depth news and civil discussion. “I amen some things and argue with others on the opinion page,” she once wrote. She was 84.
Born in West Texas, raised in Dallas, Jeanie was the wife of a Church of Christ minister and sank roots deep in Waco. Her skills were considerable — everything from interpreting for the deaf to playing classical music on the piano. One of her greatest joys was writing for the Trib. It’s fitting we offer a few glimpses into her musings, including her absolute disdain for daylight savings time — as she saw it, profanely out of harmony with Creation.
- From a spirited 2005 piece: “God in his wisdom deemed our hours of daylight become fewer in the winter anyway, but in his mercy he makes the transition gently and gradually. Daylight Saving Time has always been a misnomer. It saves no daylight but merely cuts and pastes it from one end of the day to the other. I take umbrage that Congress can impose on the clock of every man, woman, child and dog in the United States and effectively put the whole nation on shift work without so much as a tip of the hat.”
- On the coming of spring: “Some late bloomers, like slowpoke mesquites, wait in the wings to join the eager trees that already have put out leaves. Mesquites, being either super cautious or super wise, are last to green up, realizing they may get their little buds frozen in a late cold snap if they come out too soon. They go along with poet Henry Van Dyke, who said, ‘The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.’ Nevertheless, those that take the risk bring a smile to my face.”
- On radio broadcasts about the D-Day invasion of June 1944: “Daddy hovered intently over the radio in the middle of the night. There was an enforced blackout in Dallas where we lived. All our windows were covered with heavy quilts to prevent the smallest ray of light from showing through to the outside. Yet I felt no fear, for the battle seemed remote and unreal. Our canary, cheered on by the midnight lights inside, began to sing. Mama had to put a towel over his cage to shut him up. I understood no more about what was going on than the canary did.”
- On yet another blessed spring: “Every year, lest we forget about the power of resurrection to make things right, God re-runs springtime. I have a front-row seat, for pink blossoms pop out again in my own back yard, decorating an old peach tree that has become gray and scraggly through the winter months. I peek through the patio door to see the delicate ruffles reinvigorate its tired limbs. Around the corner, pink and white plum trees adorn the park and perfume the air with sweetness. Redbuds accent the neighborhood with deep hues of magenta. Flitting birds seem to enjoy the renewed freshness and splashes of color as much as I do. They fly in energetic spurts and seem to sing about it among themselves.”