Mac Malfunction

As Keegan discussed in one of his previous posts, Grandmommy often called him for her technical troubles. It would be strange if Keegan went a couple of weeks without hearing from her, especially when she was working on one of her many music projects on her laptop.

I think it was during my senior year of high school when Keegan, myself, and some of my friends attended the semi-formal dance at my school, and it was on this night that Grandmommy called Keegan with a particularly important computer-related question. We were all in Keegan’s car, driving back to his house when he got the call. When his phone rang at 11 at night, me and Keegan knew it could only be one person: Grandmommy. He put her on speaker phone since he was driving, so me and my friends quickly hushed up so as to let him listen to Grandmommy’s Mac malfunctions uninterrupted.

She had been working on some kind of project in iTunes, and from what I remember, it seemed like she was trying to figure out how to burn a playlist onto a disc. In her calm, singsong voice, she tried to find the right words to explain to Keegan what her problem was. We could hear the clicks of her computer in the background as she tapped away on the mousepad, trying to navigate her music library. Every once in a while, she would accidentally click on a song in her library and it would play over the speaker. We tried to suppress our giggles every so often as she muttered a “gosh darn it! I didn’t mean to do that” or as she laughed airily, exasperated at her computer for not doing what she wanted it to do. But as Keegan started talking her through some of the steps she needed to accomplish her goal, things on her end started getting quiet. She didn’t say much as Keegan explained what she needed to do. I immediately thought that that was sort of unusual–even if she wasn’t talking directly to Keegan, Grandmommy usually talked to herself as she navigated through the folders on her Mac, naming them out loud, as much for the benefit of herself as for Keegan, so he could follow along even though he wasn’t physically with her and her computer. Then, all of a sudden, we heard her voice ring loud and clear with a gasp of frustration.

“I don’t understand why it won’t do that,” Grandmommy said.

But her voice was swept away just as quickly as it had come through the phone. When Keegan asked what was wrong, a shrill blast of what sounded like one long, angry, high-pitched shout came through the speaker. When I made eye contact with my friends in the backseat, we all clapped hands over our mouths so our laughter wouldn’t escape and carry into the conversation we thought Grandmommy and Keegan were still having. But our muffled laughs were quickly extinguished when Keegan hung up his phone.

“We must have gotten disconnected,” he said.

“Wait, so that noise wasn’t Grandmommy screaming?” I asked.

We had all gotten the idea that Grandmommy was so frustrated with iTunes that she had either yelled out in anger or some kind of crazy music had started playing from her laptop and had bled through the phone.

“Nope–we got cut off,” Keegan said.

Within just a few more seconds, his cell phone rang, and Grandmommy’s name on the screen lit up the dark car. Keegan answered and confirmed with Grandmommy that they had been disconnected and what we thought had been her yelling was actually some kind of weird noise from their phones being so abruptly cut off.

Nowadays, whenever I talk about Keegan’s grandparents with my friends, they usually ask me to clarify which one I’m talking about since Keegan is blessed with so many sets of grandparents. For the friends who were in the car with us that night, clarification is easy. They always ask me, “Wait–is this the grandma that started yelling at her computer on the phone that one time?” If it was Grandmommy we were talking about, I’m able to confirm, “Yep, that’s the one!” while we laugh. But I always have to clarify a little further–it may be a humorous memory that gives my friends some kind of connection to Ellen Jayne, but more importantly, it’s a memory that tells us a little bit about what Ellen Jayne WASN’T like. As my memory suggests, yes, she DID call Keegan for many of her tech issues, and she DID get frustrated at times when she couldn’t figure things out on her own (or when her grandson wasn’t there to help her!), but she DIDN’T yell like that on the phone, despite joking around that she did.

The real moral of this story is that Ellen Jayne was never an angry person. Never in my life have I heard her yell at anyone or anything. We laugh at this story now, but every time I think about it, it just serves as a reminder of how silly we were to think Ellen Jayne could have been angry enough to yell like that. Though it may have been hilarious to hear a grandmother yell in frustration on the phone, the fact of the matter is that I was really laughing because I knew how unlikely that would have been for Ellen Jayne to do such a thing. She may have been the life of the party, but she was calm at heart; she was at peace with herself and others.

As the stories about Grandmommy keep pouring in through various means (including this website–thank you all for sharing!), I am continuously learning about her legacy. It seems as deep and wide as the ocean–she touched countless lives and gave everyone she came into contact with some kind of token of her memory. She was unforgettable, one of a kind. She taught us so many lessons, and one of them was to live with joy. (I have caught myself singing and dancing in public on more than one occasion since hearing stories at her memorial service this past Saturday of her and J. Clyde doing just that–I hope I can uphold her legacy of joy and laughter. It truly is the little things in life.) I will never be able to pin down exactly how she touched each and every one of us. I will never be able to define exactly what made her tick or exactly the many facets her legacy encompasses. This is just a mere drop I can contribute to the ocean of memories, laughs, and love that Ellen Jayne gave to us all: do not live your life in anger and cherish the joyful peace that comes from loving one another.

To the impressive, effervesent and above all, lovable, Ellen Jayne

Today’s my birthday.

And a perfect time to reflect on the life of Ellen Jayne Wheeler. First cousin to my Dad, Ross Cummings. Second cousin to me and my siblings, I think that’s how it works?

And a heartfelt way to support my ‘cuz’ Donnie, Don. Who, by some miracle, I got to know when I moved to OKC to live with Dad and Pam as a young ado going to the same junior high Harding, which was about a 1,000 times bigger than the one I went to in Holdenville (there was even an underground pool!). And who accepted me unconditionally, on the spot. Was and is always a sweetheart. 😉

My first impression of Ellen Jayne: quite intimidating. She was a soloist at times at Crown Heights, and I would see her, sitting (perfect posture) up front with a demeanor and beauty the reminded me of Grace Kelly. That carried over to her time as my piano teacher. Strict, but encouraging. I didn’t get a lot of encouragement at home (sibling stuff about noise and picking me up), but she was always supportive. I even did a recital with (ahem) six-year-olds. That’s tough.Bela Bartok, Bela Bartok, my frienemy. But that was also her way of saying, ‘You can do this, but you have to work at it.’ At least the judges said I had the hands and enthusiasm to move forward. Which, I hope justified her faith (and time spent) in me.

As an adult, I discovered a whole new side to Ellen Jayne, which I also cherish.

In the late ’90s, she and J. Clyde came to Minneapolis, and I had the pleasure of meeting them for tea and giving them a tour that included the St. Paul Cathedral. The two photos are included on this site.

This short visit was actually a pivotal event in my life.

As I watched these two people in love banter and laugh together (both on the same level, giving as good as they got) I thought, “Wow, that’s lovely. I hope to find that!”

And, yes, the two lovebirds/songbirds did break out in a spontaneous show tune, and I … beamed. I wouldn’t have wanted or expected anything else.

That, in the best way I can, sums up my experiences and impressions of my cousin Ellen Jayne. And of course, her relationship with J. Clyde.

Having reviewed the lovely, lovely tribute from Don and the online memorial (images and videos) organized by Keegan (thank you!), I am even more inspired by this woman.

Ellen Jayne lived an *amazing* life, with a level of determination, commitment, talent, and adorable joie de vivre (OK, everybody dance now!) that she shared with all who came in contact with her.

Big, big hugs and kisses to you, Ellen Jayne. And thank you so much for being a part of our lives.


Weathering a Pecos dirt storm with Ellen

We picked up Ellen at the Midland/Odessa airport and started to our high school reunion at Indian Lodge. A total brown-out dirt storm over took us in Pecos. After we pull off the highway, we could not see the ground next to our car. From time to time the dirt would let up a little and we could see the out line of cars on both sides of the highway. Cars were lined up in front back and back of us. Ellen, June and I would sing a while then we took turns praying. After an eternity, the storm let up and we drove to Indian Lodge.
Ellen stayed with us during the reunions in Granbury. We will never forget her boundless energy and love. Jerry Griffin

When I Was A Student in College

Soon after I became a college student, I found out the Ellen Jayne was a professor at the same university that I was attending, Oklahoma City University. My mother and I asked her what she was teaching, and she talked about the courses she taught. And we asked her about certain general education courses that students there have to take. I was impressed when I learned that she flies to Singapore to teach at the Singapore campus of OCU. About a month and a half ago, my mother asked her if she still travels to Singapore to teach. She said, “No, my days of flying there are over.” I’m fortunate and grateful to have known her.

My Love for Ellen Jayne

I have so many wonderful memories about Ellen Jayne. From the moment my husband, Craig and I started dating one of the first places he took me was to meet Dr. Wheeler and Ellen Jayne. She always refered to me and treated me as a daughter. There was no such thing as a bad day if you were priviledged enough to spend time with Ellen Jayne. She was and will always remain one of the brightest lights in my thoughts, memories, and experiences.

Dancing Queen

Besides having the pleasure of attending the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert with Ellen Jayne and George, my favorite memory is getting to share dancing moments at Ingrid’s Restaurant. She and George covered the dancefloor with smooth moves and a lot of smiles. George even coaxed my husband and I out on the dance floor to join them. Some other times I was honored to share moments with Ellen Jayne were family gatherings/celebrations. We watched fireworks together at Paige and Keegan’s home in Norman several times. EJ watched them and responded as though it was the first time she had seen them. She leaned against a very tall George and oohed and awed with great excitement. Ellen Jayne was a wonderful inspirational person! I will cherish her memories forever.

A Nice Time At Her House

One day about 10 years ago a few fellow church members and I were at her house for some food and fellowship. I think we ate lunch and then we sang some songs while she played the piano. It was a nice time at her house that I now regret taking for granted. It’s times like these that remind us to appreciate the friends and relationships we have.

Grandma’s Pancakes

Anytime I spent the night at grandma’s house I always anticipated breakfast time. Although I wasn’t a fan of boiled eggs, I was a fan of the yummy pancakes grandma made. Not only did grandma make pancakes, but I got to help with the process. Grandma taught me little tricks when making pancakes, she always said to watch for the bubbles to pop up around the edge, and then you knew it was time to flip it. Breakfast was one of my favorite things to take part in at grandma’s house. She was always prepared to teach her grandchildren new things, and I was ready to learn about everything related to pancakes. Thank you grandma for teaching me how to make the perfect pancake, it will be used often and in loving memory of you.

Journey to Egypt

This video, Dancing on a Faluk, was when we were on an evening Faluk boat ride. It is an egyptian sailboat. That song is one that is a folksong which is sung all over Egypt cause we heard it everywhere we went.

This second video of Ellen Jayne in the Cairo Market was our last day in Egypt and we had gone to shop. She had just bought those little musical instruments to bring back as a gift to her grandchildren. She just broke out into playing them with our tour guide and dancing, people all around stopped what they were doing to watch. People even tried to give her money thinking that she was a street performer. As you know, Ellen Jayne was one of a kind.

You couldn’t be unhappy or have a bad day when in her presence or in earshot of her. Craig, Wyatt and I are so grateful that we have been so blessed to call your family, our family. We love you all so very much.