Cover photo for Barbara Gurin's Obituary
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1943 Barbara 2022

Barbara Gurin

August 27, 1943 — January 20, 2022

Our Mom was born on August 27, 1943 and left us to be with the Lord on January 20, 2022.

She fought for most, if not all, of her life and she fought the good fight. Alas, it came time for her to rest.

Our Mother was preceded in death by her Grandparents, Taylor and Hattie Myers; her father, Elmer Myers (aka Pop); her Mother, Barbara Myers; her first born son, Joseph; her first born daughter, Tammy Sue; her grandson, Tony; and her beloved pets, Rover and Lily.

Left behind to cherish her memory are her five (5) children; Jeff (Carrie), Tonya, Brian, Dori (Michael), and Tina; sixteen (16) grandchildren, Justin, Alyssa, Dylan, Ryan, Sara Jo (Jacob), Darby, Garrett, Jasmine, Jordan, Natalia, Rocco, Sadie, Hayden, Freya, Donny, and Leo; ten (10) great-grandchildren, McKenzie, Ryder, Aubree, Sophia, Remington, Cruise, Riley, Brisco, Kelsey, and Lyric; and five (5) siblings, Elmer Glenn (Betty), Linda (Ronald), Sandy, Randy and Greg

A Celebration of Life will be Saturday, March 12, 2022 at Jensen’s Funeral Home located at 3639 IL-17, Kankakee, IL 60901. Please join us in celebrating our Mother at an open house starting at 1pm and service starting at 4pm. We will have food/refreshments available. If you’d like to contribute by making a dish, make a donation towards food, or need additional information, please call Dori at 614-746-0283.

Our Mom shared with us her final wishes about some things, however she never thought to share with us how she felt her obituary should go. So as her children, we decided we would step away from what was considered “normal” and share with you some of our favorite memories with our Mom, and some stories she shared with us over the years. If you knew our Mom, one of the things you’d know about her was she loved her family with all of her heart and soul. She knew how important family connection was.

She spent some of her childhood, and most memorable years growing up and playing on the family farm in Kentucky. Her Dad managed the farm, and her Mom managed the house, kids, and the meals. Our Mom was the eldest daughter, so she was accustomed to helping our Grandmother out. She told us many stories about her time on the farm; how they loved to play with the baby pigs and chickens. One of our favorite stories she would tell us about those days was when Pop took the kids out to pick blackberries. He didn’t realize the well-known mean ol’ bull was in the same pasture as them. Once he did, he grabbed the kids and started running. The bull was coming right for them. Pop yelled for their dog, Rover, then suddenly he came out of nowhere and took that bull down. Rover stopped that bull in his tracks right when it was about to reach them. The bull turned around and ran the other way. We grew up hearing how Rover saved their lives that day. I don’t know if all dogs do go to Heaven, but I’d like to think Rover greeted our Mom the day she arrived.

Our Mother was a single Mom to six kids, and she wasn’t the type to take handouts; mostly because she wasn’t really handed much. She worked as a school bus driver for over 35 years. While she wasn’t a fan of being away from her children and waking up at 4:30am every morning (I can still hear her alarm, it was pretty obnoxious, but it did the job), she really enjoyed driving a bus. She was quite good at it. She even preferred it over driving a car. During that time, she made so many lifelong friends. Friends she kept for many years after. These were good friends too, like really good friends. They would call often, and still meet at their favorite Chinese restaurant at least once a month. Relationships aren’t built the same way they used to be. Our Mom and her friends were very blessed to have each other.

Our Mother was a worrier, but she was also a strong woman of faith who knew and loved Jesus. Her worry led her to prayer.  When we were younger, she made sure to bring us all to church every Sunday. She woke us up, made sure we were showered, dressed, and fed, and got us all to church, and on top of all of that, she managed the children’s nursery. We have so many memories of being at church as children with our Mom. As a single Mother with not a lot of income, she often fell on some pretty rough times. She always leaned on the Lord when times got rough and let me tell you He came through for her! She was one of the people at the church that would be the first to step up and give testimony on how God worked in her life. One of those testimonies would be how in the thick of winter our old furnace went out. When I say it was cold in our house, I’m talking we were wearing our winter coats and blankets. A local Pastor had some experience working on furnaces, so he came by to check it out, but there was nothing he could do. That furnace was something else. Our Mom had to work that day and was so exhausted by the situation, she just prayed. She gave it to God. She told Him it was His problem now, and she just let it go. Next thing she knew our sister Tammy called her and told her the furnace started working! That was a story that our Mom shared with many, and she shared it with a smile on her face because she absolutely knew it was God. Our Mom helped so many people trust in God, and helped to plant that seed of faith not only with her testimonies, but with her smile and laughter. It was said by many that if a woman can have it that rough and still smile and laugh that God must be good! One of the greatest gifts our Mom gave us was a strong spiritual foundation and relationship with God.

Now let’s talk about that laugh. When we say our Mom was known for her laugh you must know it was no ordinary laugh. Her laugh started in her heart and flowed through her body all the way to her mouth and eyes. Her laugh was so special that if you were the one to make her laugh like that it felt like you were special, too. It wasn’t hard to make her laugh, because she was so joyful. You didn’t even have to be in the same room with her, if you heard it, you knew who it came from. In fact, her laugh was often what helped us locate her in church. Many times, we would be in the grocery store and she’d laugh about something, then someone she knew would come around the corner saying “I recognized that laugh!” Her laugh was one of a kind, and will be very deeply missed by all that knew and loved her.

Every Sunday after church we would spend time at our Grandma’s house. Our Mother loved spending time with her Mom, and she knew how important it was to spend that day with family. Our Grandma would prepare snacks for us, and if we stayed later, we would have dinner there, too. We would play cards or dice and eat chicken and dumplings or some other type of comfort food. We spent a lot of time going to Grandma’s house with Mom. They had such a beautiful relationship. I can only imagine the hug they shared in Heaven.

If you knew our Mom, then you were probably fed by her too. She loved to cook and she loved to cook good food for the people she loved. Her experience with cooking started at a young age. One of the first stories of her cooking when she was younger was when she cooked fried chicken (more on that later!) for her family. Our Aunt Linda would tell you it was the most beautiful chicken, and that she could still see the memory of it to this day. It was gorgeous and perfect. Our Grandpa (Pop) sat all the kids at the table and was proud of our Mom for making such a beautiful meal. They all made their plates, took one bite and let’s just say the taste did not match the look; apparently it tasted pretty bad. Mom forgot to add salt! Pop told the kids, “It’s okay, it just needs a little salt. It’s good, just add some salt.” Our Mom laughed every time she shared that story, and you’ll be happy to know since then she had perfected her fried chicken recipe!

Mom was born in Kentucky, then moved to the Chicagoland area as a young girl, but she definitely keep her Southern roots. She brought us up knowing how to make sweet tea, shuck corn, and snap green beans. Now let’s talk about that fried chicken… if she wanted to get you to her house for whatever reason, all she would have to say is “I’ll make fried chicken”. It was something we took for granted as children, but something we craved as adults. We could all try to make it the way Mom did, but it was never the same. As Mom would say, even the pan you use matters. Clearly, she was right. Her love of cooking didn’t stop with chicken, she also made the most amazing fried green tomatoes. She tweaked her recipe over the years, and because of Ms. Brenda Gantt, even changed it recently. As her children, we had our favorites; fried chicken and fried green tomatoes were always at the top of our list, but there were others. As kids, Mom would make these incredible homemade eggrolls, and this one tomato dish that would simmer on the stove for hours in a cast iron pan, then she’d place in the middle of the dining table and we would use a good Italian bread to pile it on and soak it up. For breakfast she would make us the best biscuits and gravy, with fresh tomatoes and green onions and lots of black pepper. If there was a party or event, my Mom would always bring the chicken… Popeye’s Chicken. It was her favorite if she couldn’t make it herself.

Speaking of bringing chicken, our Mom would never show up empty handed. She loved buying and giving, especially gifts, whether it be for a holiday or “just because”. These weren’t necessarily expensive gifts; they were incredibly thoughtful gifts. When she would go shopping, she would often buy more for others than she would for herself. She had a knack for buying the most perfect gifts, one you may not have thought to buy yourself, one you didn’t even know you needed. Then she would call or text you to ask you if you used it or tasted it, or even where you put it. Buying for others brought her a tremendous amount of joy. If you knew her, I’m sure you can think of at least one thing, if not more, you treasure that was given to you by our Mother.

Every one has a favorite season, for our Mom, it was Spring. We think it had a lot to do with her love for Gardening. Mom loved watching everything turn green, which she believed had a lot to do with a good lightning storm. She loved planning and planting a garden, then having fresh tomatoes all season long. She really enjoyed planting flowers and having hanging baskets around her yard. Flowers made her happy. If you ask me, I believe they reminded her of her own Mother.

One last thing we would like to let you know about our Mom is, like most people, she really loved Christmas. We had some great Christmas’s growing up. She found very creative ways to make sure we felt special. She would decorate the most beautiful Christmas trees and take such pride in them.  As soon as she would finish decorating her tree for the year, she would send us all text messages with pictures. She would get so excited to share. One memory we have as kids was her leaving the tree up well after Christmas because she really enjoyed the holiday glow. During the time of Desert Storm she refused to take the tree down until “the boys came home”. It was a thoughtful gesture, but pretty embarrassing when our friends would come over in the Summer and see the Christmas tree still up. I think someone ended up taking it down eventually, but it wasn’t her. She wasn’t too happy about it either.

We talked about her childhood, her family and friends, her faith, her laughter, and her infamous fried chicken… all that wrapped up together was a special gift from above… our Mom. She was a lot of things, and the most impressive thing about her was her love for us, her children. She gave birth to seven children; Joseph (he passed away hours after birth), Jeff, Tammy, Tonya, Brian, Dori, and Tina. Mom had a unique and personalized relationship with all of us. She didn’t expect us to come to her, she came to us. She respected and loved us as individuals. When we started having children of our own it was like the space in her heart grew; she loved our kids like an extension of us. Just one look from her grandchildren would spark a smile on her face. Remember when we mentioned gifts? Her grandchildren would benefit the most from that hobby of hers! Whether is be clothing, coloring books, or some interesting candy or food, if she thought they’d like it, she would buy it for them. If you asked her grandchildren about the memories they have of their Grandma, they would have a lot to choose from. Some would talk about the times during the holidays or birthdays when family got together; others may mention the times at Rough River lake sitting around the campsites or swimming in the pool at the lodge; a few would talk about shopping in Shipshewana, or going to the Covered Bridge Festival. In more recent years, memories were made when Mom decided we were going to Gatlinburg. She always loved Tennessee, so it was very special to be able to have her show us around town. She would walk around with her walker and the younger grandkids would sit on the walker seat while Grandma pushed them around. They didn’t see the walker as anything Grandma “needed”, they saw it as a cool toy and she wouldn’t disappoint when it came to rides. I’ll never forget when her littlest grandkids decided they needed walking canes of their own. Grandma had the cool stuff; she’d always find the cool places to go or the cool things to buy. Our kids had an incredible Grandma. I have to add, she wasn’t just “Grandma”. She was Momaw, MeMom, and Grandma Sue. She wasn’t much on Granny, because she knew there was only one Granny and that was her Granny. Our Mom understood how important Grandma’s were because she had one of the best, so she wore that honor like a crown. Our kids were beyond blessed and they knew it.

We can write all the words and share all the memories, but nothing could even come close to sharing with you how special our Mom / Grandma / Grandma Sue / Momaw / MeMom was. She was a loving, generous, God-fearing, thoughtful, and fierce woman, mother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She was remarkable, and unbeatable. She was absolutely fiercely and wonderfully made.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

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