On this day in 2010, we lost Linda Voils Sullivan.
To some, she was a friend.
To others, the wife of the pastor.
To me, she was my Nanny – and for that, I will always be thankful.
I loved Nanny with everything that I had; however, I didn’t realize the true impact that she had on my life until I grew older. I love to tell stories about her – that’s the Southern Kentucky in me, storytelling is an art form – and I often proclaim that she is one of the most influential people that I will ever have the privilege of knowing.
If you’d be so kind, let me tell you a little bit about her.
Nanny started her life as daughter to Thomas Lee and Eva Della – a sister to Chester, Earnest, Earl, Marshall, David, Patricia, Shirley, and Daphene.
Nanny grew up poor, humble, yet surrounded by love. Her story is the embodiment of so many stories of Appalachian, Southern, and Eastern Kentucky families. I think it is what fueled her work ethic and drive for success.
Nanny wasn’t formally educated – however, let me tell you… that woman was smart. She knew the right moves to make, when to make them, and what she’d reap from them.
Nanny was gifted with numbers, which is why she made tax preparation her main career. She was reliable, thorough, and devoted. I have many memories from the tax office!
Nanny was a business woman. She was always finding a way to make an investment here, a dollar there. I wish she were here to see how much one of her businesses has grown. She’d be appalled, flabbergasted, but more than anything, she’d be immensely proud of it.
Nanny was a Christian. She instilled the importance of religion, attending church, and lending a helping hand to me at a very young age. For that, I am forever indebted.
Nanny was a talented homemaker. There wasn’t much that she couldn’t do. However, most importantly, she could cook. What I’d give for those chicken and dumplings, that amazing white chocolate cake, that banana pudding, or those dreamy fried apple pies one more time. I haven’t dined at a single Michelin Star restaurant that compared to the food produced in that kitchen.
Nanny was a mother to two – Carrie Ann (my mother) and Jessie. She was a wife to Terry Dean. She was a grandmother to my sister (Ibby), myself, and Addison. I do wish that she would have been able to meet her other two grandchildren, Hudson and Hayes, and her four great-grandchildren that my sister adopted from Ukraine (Alex, Jon, Davyd, and Svetlana). She would have loved them to pieces, just as she did us.
Nanny was a devout fan of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. She would be so sad that her grandson (me) ended up catching Cardinal Fever!
Nanny, more than anything, was a FIGHTER.
She fought her way out of poverty.
She fought to provide a better life for her children.
She fought to ensure that her grandchildren were spoiled.
She fought to grow her businesses, always making an honest living.
She fought to become successful – and she was. Very.
She fought to defy the odds – and she did.
She fought cancer – and that is the ONLY thing that I can think of that could have taken down my Nanny.
Nanny didn’t lose a fight; rather, her earthly body was tired of competing with her desire to gain a spiritual one. Cancer stinks – it affects so many families, my own included.
In conclusion, I thank you, Nanny.
Thank you for teaching me grit, determination, devotion. Thank you for teaching me to fight – and win. Thank you for your example.
I loved her, I love her, and I will continue to love her. She was one-of-a-kind… and I am so thankful that I was able to call her mine.
Jacob Christian (as she would’ve called me)