YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE
By Patti Johnson
My oldest brother, Jim, passed away in May.
He was 81 years old. He and his wife, Barb, would have celebrated
their 60th wedding anniversary in September.
Jim and Barb were blessed with four children and six grandchildren.
When those kids and grandkids were little, Jim sang the same song to each and every one
of them as he often put them to bed, or down for a nap, or just cuddled with them in
his lap. The song was You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine.
Jim’s oldest granddaughter, Meganne, is a musician. She plays guitar, writes her own songs, and
performs at clubs and other venues in the Cleveland area.
His burial was on a dreary rainy day.
At the cemetery, after the final
prayers were said, Barb asked Meganne to play and sing,
You Are My Sunshine. Meganne invited all the gathered family and friends to join in and sing along.
As Meganne puts it, “Words cannot express what it was like when we all sang
together. The few moments of sunshine we had in Cleveland that day occurred during
this song and our final goodbyes at the cemetery.”
But, the story doesn’t end there.
A few days after the funeral, Barb turned on the TV to watch Wheel of Fortune, just as she
and Jim had done every evening for the last 35 years. Her mind had wandered, distracted from
the TV, but she looked up just as they revealed the Puzzle:
YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE. MY ONLY SUNSHINE.
She immediately felt—knew— that Jim had heard them sing the song at the cemetery and was thanking her for it.
The following day was Barb’s 80th Birthday. She went out to get the mail.
There was a post card addressed to her from the Bradford Exchange advertising their new product: A
Messenger from Heaven musical glitter globe, with a handcrafted red cardinal inside, that plays the
song, Always in My Heart.
This message is engraved on the outside.
A MESSENGER FROM HEAVEN
A gentle reminder that
We’re never far apart.
My spirit will live on forever
There within your heart.
And when you see a cardinal,
Here to brighten your day,
Remember that I’m there with you,
And there I’ll always stay.
Barb trembled, tears spilling down her cheeks, as Jim’s words filled her broken heart. She was lifted up
and held tightly by her Messenger from Heaven. This was the best birthday present ever.
Jim and Barb with sister Patti (1958)
Barb and Jim with the grandkids and kids at Jim’s 80th birthday
YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE
MY ONLY SUNSHINE.
YOU MAKE ME HAPPY,
WHEN SKIES ARE GRAY.
YOU’LL NEVER KNOW DEAR
HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU.
PLEASE DON’T TAKE
MY SUNSHINE AWAY.
Originally recorded in 1939 by the Pine Ridge Boys when Jim was two years old.
Jimmie Davis co-wrote the song and would serve two terms as Governor of Louisiana.