On a June weekend in 2018, feeling strong, Jaime Jenkins joined a group of girlfriends for a New York City getaway. The excursion included an evening walk across the Brooklyn Bridge followed by a stop in Little Italy for gelato.
After dessert, spotting a limousine parked nearby, the footsore posse hopped in for a lift back to the hotel. Riding in a stretch limo happened to be on Jaime’s bucket list.
Mandi Peo, the 40th birthday trip honoree, recalls that Jaime sat in front with the driver. By the end of the ride, Jaime knew everything – the names of his wife and kids, where he lived, how long he’d been driving.
“While the rest of us celebrated in the back, Jaime got to know Tony,” Mandi says. “Jaime could make a friend out of a stranger in no time. She had the gift of making everyone else feel loved.”
World famous hugs
When Jaime passed away from cancer in spring 2019, having fought and beaten back the disease half a dozen times before, she left a lasting legacy of radiant energy and boundless love. Family meant everything.
“Even in bed without the stamina to do much beyond sitting up, she’d call the kids in just to tell them she loved them,” Jaime’s sister, Cherish Jensen, recalls. “She’d pull them close and say Ah. My babies.”
She gave epic hugs.
“World famous,” Jaime’s friend Lisa Zollinger says. “She made you feel like the most special person in the world.”
Nothing but laughter
Lisa, Mandi, and Cherish formed the trio of voices that Jaime’s husband, David, heard most often when he lay next to Jaime. Not just during her illness, but on everyday evenings when she just wanted to catch up with everyone. Their voices usually came through over Marco Polo.
“When Jaime struggled particularly hard or felt too sick to type a coherent text, she could still record a Polo,” Cherish says.
Cherish laughingly admits that she only ever downloaded an app or used new technology at Jaime’s suggestion. But living in different states, with busy lives and diverging schedules, made it challenging to stay in touch.
Taken in by Jaime’s enthusiasm, Cherish started to love the Polos they shared as they went about their daily routines.
“Sometimes we’d do nothing but laugh back and forth,” Cherish says. “She’d say something funny, and I’d tap Record as I cracked up in response. It was absolutely wonderful.”
Even though Cherish finds it bittersweet to watch those Polos, she, Mandi, and Lisa share a deep gratitude for the saved conversations. They provide a dynamic and enduring reminder of Jaime’s warmth and vitality.
The good in everything
In considering all of Jaime’s lasting gifts, Lisa keeps coming back to Jaime’s ability to turn every negative experience into an opportunity. Getting stuck in traffic meant more uninterrupted time with family. A long grocery line gave her the chance to make a new friend.
“That attitude even extended to cancer, which she viewed as one of her greatest blessings. Because cancer changed how she thought about the simplest things,” Lisa says. “Every day she gave thanks for being able to wake up, feel well enough to walk her kids to school, and be their mom.”
“Jaime also loved the rain,” Mandi adds. “Last winter in California, we had so much rain, and I remember I’d gotten pretty weary of it. One day when we were Poloing back and forth, I said, Jaime – are you even just a little bit sick of it, too?”
“And she told me no. She said, Every day, I’m grateful. Every day, I thank God for giving us rain.”