Jun 5, 1943 - Feb 2, 2017
Jacquetta Sue Wall Abernathy
Jacquetta Sue Wall was born June 5, 1943 in Oakland, CA. She was the second child of George & Bonita Wall. Jackie had two sisters. Peggy Lou was 11 months older and Rhuea Ann was 19 months younger. The three sisters were always very close and had many adventures. The House of 5 Walls on Park Avenue in Napa was always a fun, loving place to be. Those 5 Walls made up a very close-knit group but they were also part of a much larger group, the Huckaby Family. Jackie was one of 28 first cousins who loved, laughed, and schemed together.
Jackie knew Allen David Abernathy all of her life. Jackie’s Mom, Bonita, and A.D.’s Dad, Allen grew up together in Texas. Though Jackie and A.D. knew each other all their lives, Jackie was quick to tell everyone that she didn’t like him when they were kids. He was 6 years older than her and she said he didn’t want to be bothered by the younger kids. As time went on, he realized he didn’t mind being bothered by Jackie. Jackie and A.D. were married February 20, 1965 in Napa, CA by Elder Thurman Huckaby and Elder Bill Huckaby, who were Jackie’s uncles. One of the many blessings of Jackie and A.D.’s marriage was Wendy Colleen Abernathy. She was A.D.’s daughter from a previous marriage and very much part of their lives. After the wedding, the Abernathys lived in Santa Paula, CA where their second blessing arrived. Jeffrey Allen Abernathy was born December 2, 1965. When Jeff was still young, the family moved to Fremont, CA. They enjoyed being in Northern California with so many of Jackie’s family but returned to Southern California in 1968 when they purchased their home at 3430 George Street in El Rio. On June 16, 1969, their third blessing arrived. Donna Sue Abernathy, aka Suzie, was born June 16, 1969. The family lived on George Street for 27 years.
Jeff & Suzie were blessed to grow up in a home and family that were very loving and had a strong faith. Both sides of the family were Primitive Baptist going back 9 generations. Jackie joined the Carquinez Primitive Baptist Church in 1952 and was baptized by her uncle, Elder Thurman Huckaby. Jackie & A.D. were very active members of The First Primitive Baptist Church of Santa Paula for many, many years where A.D.’s father served as pastor for over 40 years.
After Suzie started school, Jackie began working for the school district. She started by working in the kitchen at the elementary school but soon moved to Hueneme High School where she worked with Cookie Stanley. Cookie and Jackie became very close friends so when Cookie moved to Rio Mesa High School, Jackie followed. There she met Paula McCullough and the three of them became best buddies and worked together for many years. In 2000, Jackie retired after 22 years as a paraeducator for the Oxnard Union High School District.
The Abernathys enjoyed many fun activities including camping, fishing, playing cards and dominoes, making homemade ice cream, and attending church meetings and singing schools. Many weekends, they would be found camping and fishing at Lake Casitas. Their main camping adventure, however, was Burney Falls. The family camped at Burney Falls many summers for a week at a time. There they enjoyed boating, fishing, camping, and jet skiing. On one of their trips to Burney, Jackie read her book by flashlight at night. A.D. started calling her Abe for Abraham Lincoln who read by candlelight. Of course, for all of us that knew A.D., you know he carried on with the nickname until she was fully irritated and we were all laughing.
On Sundays, the Abernathys would always be found in church at the First Primitive Baptist Church of Santa Paula. After potluck lunch, everyone would go back to one of the member’s homes where they would play cards, dominoes, and make homemade ice cream. Those afternoons brought so much laughter, fun, joy, and memories. The family also had family dinners once a week at John & Jo Hall’s house where the laughter and game playing would continue. There was always an environment of fun and support. The Santa Paula church family was a constant main stay no matter what happened in life. The family was not limited to only the church at Santa Paula but also included hundreds of precious brothers and sisters of “like precious faith” that would last a lifetime.
In 1989, Jeff married Janet Belvedere followed by Suzie marrying Jim Berg in 1992. Jackie had several nicknames but her absolute favorite was Mam. That name was given to her by Amanda, her first grandchild. By the time Kevin, Thomas, Rachel, David, and Makenna came along the name had stuck and it would become the name that many, many people called her. She even answered by Aunt Mam on occasion. Mam’s children, their spouses and her grandchildren, whom she called her 6 angels, were everything to her. She was frequently present at volleyball, swim meets, basketball, and soccer games.
Mam loved to tell stories and she didn’t care if you had heard it before or not. One of the kid’s favorites was that one time Mam got a ticket for parking a little bit over the line in a handicapped spot. Every single time we parked in a parking spot she would look out the door to make sure we weren’t over the line and tell us the story, again. If she saw someone else park over the line, even total strangers, she would literally follow them into the store to tell them that they should go move their car so they didn’t get a ticket.
A.D. passed away in 2007. Mam moved to Elk Grove in 2012 and became an active participant in the lives of the Berg family. She loved to attend Girl Scout meetings, volunteer for the PTO and even work in Makenna’s classroom. Pretty soon even the kids at Raymond Case were calling her Mam. She also joined into Suzie’s Bunco group where she made many more close friends.
In April of 2016, Mam was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That very day she moved in with Jim, Suzie, and the kids for support. Since purple is the ribbon color of pancreatic cancer, that became Mam’s favorite color. She, and Suzie, wore purple to every chemo treatment and doctor’s appointment. Everyone in the doctor’s office and infusion center called them the Purple Ladies. Mam made sure to have fun no matter what the circumstances. She had her cousin Pat crochet a minion cover for her chemo pump and decorated her walker with lights and garland for Christmas. Mam very quickly won the hearts of all of her care team. She made sure that every one of her team hugged her before she left each appointment and her huge community of supporters became known as Team Mam. They all sported purple rubber bracelets that say “No One Fights Alone” and she didn’t fight alone. Her grandson, Thomas, even had t-shirts and sweatshirts made for everyone. They said “We Choose Hope” on the front and “Team Mam” on the back.
When Mam was diagnosed in April, her main goal was just to make it to Kevin’s graduation from UC Davis. She was so weak at first that there was doubt as to whether she would be able to attend. Mam did in fact attend and spend a wonderful day watching her first grandson receive his diploma. It was a blessed day for the whole family. Thankfully, that day was one of many blessed days during the 9 ½ months between her diagnosis and going home to her Savior.
Jeff, Janet, Kevin, and Rachel were able to visit frequently and join in the good and bad times. Everyone was happy just getting to share time with Mam. A favorite pastime was watching the entire series of Blue Bloods or laughing with Steve Harvey on Family Feud. Mam was able to make a couple of visits down to Santa Paula and enjoy everyone’s company down there. She even mustered her will and determination to make that trip for Christmas and have our traditional Christmas celebration at Jeff & Janet’s. Arriving back in Elk Grove the day after Christmas, Mam became weaker and weaker each day. By that Friday, December 30th, she was in the hospital where she would remain for 34 days. Right away, she began making friends of all the nurses, CNAs, and doctors who would begin to feel like family. Mam received extraordinary care and was the recipient of much compassion.
When the doctor told Mam there was nothing else that could be done for her, Mam took the news as if she already knew it. She gathered the Berg family around her bed and spoke for over ½ an hour about unconditional love. She exhorted us to always love each other unconditionally but she was even more determined to remind us that God loves us unconditionally. The last couple of weeks of Mam’s life were filled with blessings that cannot be numbered. She made all of the important decisions for herself and made sure everyone was clear on the fact that she was ready to go home to be with Jesus. She went so far as to tell the doctor to pull the plug! After which, he reminded her that she was not hooked up to any machines.
Mam became very good at playing possum. When you thought she was definitely asleep, she would surprise you by saying something pertinent to the conversation in the room. At one instance, the doctor came in and spoke softly with Jim and Suzie about her condition telling them that Mam could live a few months as long as she kept eating and drinking. Well, when “the possum” awoke a little while later at dinnertime, she quickly informed Suzie that she would not be eating dinner. When questioned she said, “you heard him, if I keep eating I can’t go home and I’m ready to go home.” She never took another bite. That was 10 days before she passed away. Mam would, however, drink. She loved her Jamba Juice and if anyone had brought her some homemade Kahlua she would have loved that too! Her favorite, however, was Diet Dr. Pepper. She would break out in the 1950s Dr Pepper jingle frequently. “Dr. Pepper is the friendly pepper upper, Dr. Pepper never ever let’s you down.” When everyone laughed, she made sure that we all knew that the jingle was written by Barry Manilow. She was often heard saying, “I want some Dr. Pepper in my mouth.” When you put it in her mouth, and asked her if it was good she would reply Mmmm Hmmm.
These fun little moments with Mam were also accompanied by some serious moments. She told us all about how she had seen Heaven and how beautiful it was. She said it was more beautiful than anything you could imagine and so very peaceful. Mam let us all know that she wanted to stay there and was upset when she would realize she was still here on Earth. One morning she told us that she had sung Amazing Grace with Jesus the night before. She said she asked Him, “Why are you not taking me home?” He replied, “I’m not ready.” She answered back with, “well you Pooch!” (Pooch being a word in the A.D. Abernathy dictionary that meant goofball.) She told Jesus that she was ready and He told her “in My time.” We all had a great laugh and teased her about calling Jesus a pooch. The next morning she told us that she had sung Amazing Grace with Jesus again that night and had apologized for calling him a pooch. He replied, “I forgive you my child.”
Jeff & Suzie were each blessed with private moments with Mam that they will remember forever. One evening a few days before she passed, Suzie was alone with Mam and noticed her humming. When she leaned in she realized Mam was humming “Leaning on the everlasting arms.” Suzie began singing the song to her and she hummed along. Mam hit every note right on and hummed the entire song twice through. When Suzie stopped singing, Mam started humming Amazing Grace to the tune of Angel Band. Suzie began singing that and Mam again hummed along to the entire song.
Before leaving her hospital room each night, whoever was there would hold hands around her bed and have prayer. Since that was what we did every night at the dinner table, the kids would often start the prayer with God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food, Amen. Jim would then follow that up with a longer prayer for Mam.
Mam had very strong faith and she fought her battle with grace and dignity. The Lord came to take Mam home on February 2, 2017 about 1:00pm. She will never again know pain and she will worship her Lord in perfection forever more. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalms 115:16.