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171 Humboldt Ave.
Dorchester, MA 02121
Phone: 617-427-5625
Fax: 617-427-2869
Jerline Johnson
In Memory of
1945 - 2018
Memorial Candle Tribute From
Riley - Antoine Funeral Home
"We are honored to provide this Book of Memories to the family."
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Obituary for Jerline Johnson

My sister was born in Tullahoma Tennessee, it was near there that my father had been stationed for his service to World War II and where his young family had only just begun. My sister Jerline, aka Nikki, would be their second born child, their first daughter, to what would eventually be a brood of six children.

My mother made it clear to my sister very early on that there were certain life tenets to which she would be expected to adhere.

One...she must always conduct herself in a manner that was beyond reproach. One might say these were "different" times in our country, "different" times in the South...but not all that much has changed. My sister was taught, as was my brother before her, and myself and all my siblings that followed after---that eyes would be upon her and that judgment would fill those eyes. She was told that for those who might watch her and judge her and wished to find her wanting she was to always conduct herself in a manner above reproach not so that she might raise their low expectations of her---but rather so that she did not fall below her parent's high expectations of her.

My sister was taught to be compassionate, an easy lesson for one who was born with empathy for others and an abundant sense of natural generosity. My sister cared greatly for others...that they were felt safe and that they comfortable.

My sister was also taught to be fair and just despite the fact that the world might not always show you the same virtues in kind. She was taught that both fairness and justice were their own reward and required no payment of the very same in kind, that the giving did not, and may not, always result in the receiving---and she was alright with that.

When I came along, the next to last born of all six siblings, my sister had formed what would become one of the benchmarks of her personality, I came to know my sister as a protector. She made me feel safe, and protected and I am sure she managed to make others feel the same way as well. As we matured through the phases of young students and into our teenage years and young adulthood there are many instances when my older sister made it quite clear to others that to have an issue with me was to have an issue with her. I felt, for the entirety of my life, that my sister was not only my support, that she was not only on my team...but that she was rooting for me on the field of our lives together as well as from the sidelines.

I idolized my sister, which may seem a bit weird to those who knew us best because our personalities were so very different. We chose different manners of dress, different styles of friends, we held very different interests while growing up and later in out adulthood---but those things, really, were superficial. What made me admire my sister and wish to see myself in her---was the example she set. In my eyes my sister possessed the finest qualities of a human being, of a woman, of a daughter. She was so very much like my mother whom I idolized and an unfailing and unflawed woman---and in my sister, I noted the same propensity toward style and a delicate, feminine grace, my sister also possessed my mother's Nightengale spirit---a tendency my mother manifested in becoming a nurse while my sister would rise to a similar calling when taking close care of our mother as her health failed her and through her losing battle with disease. While my mother was ill, most of her children grown and living their own lives outside of Massachusetts or with their own new and young families, my sister made the selfless sacrifice of being a near full-time caregiver to my ailing mother. There are not many opportunities we, as children to our parents, have to repay all that they have done for us---and even when those opportunities arise proud parents or the burdens of a day to day life prevent us from repaying all that we received from loving parents. I admire my sister for being able to repay my mother in that way when many of her other children could not.

But, knowing my sister as many of you here today knew her, her selfless generosity should come as no surprise.

In my eyes, for a very long time---really only up until the few years before her death my sister's opinions on things became my own. Growing up I saw her, as many see their elder siblings, as an authority. I didn't question her, she was a constant and, in my estimation, always right. I trusted her advice and held in high esteem her assessment of the people in my life. My sister's stamp of approval held tremendous weight for me because she'd earned and deserved no less.

I'd originally written this eulogy with a litany of the good things my sister did for me throughout my life, the kindness she showed my daughters when they were born and she loved them passionately and, quite frankly, materialistically. There was a time when my husband advised me to tell my sister to 'stop sending all these clothes' to our newborn daughters. Every item more expensive than the last. They could not wear them fast enough as they grew as babies do...and the guilt that such beautiful, generous gifts might go to waste seemed strange to someone only just getting to know my sister as the doting and generous person that she was. There is a story about the time my sister bought me a car---but I don't think it illustrates her kindness, and generosity, and protectiveness as beautifully as the time when I was ill with a back nearly broken and my sister came to New York during the winter months to shovel the snow outside my apartment so that I had a place to park that very car.

My sister was a wonderful wonder and I hope you share my belief that we were all better for having known her, for having her be a part of our lives. She illustrated for me and my daughters the beauty of kindness and selflessness and sacrifice and that those attributes could stand alone without the need of praise or celebration or compensation.

Because the greatest Johnson family heirloom is faith I take solace in knowing that my sister's departure from this earth means that she is now in the company of our mother, our father, our dear sister and brother. I take solace in the fact that they welcomed her arrival in heaven with arms wide open, that they embraced her with adoring reception and told her that she had done well as a daughter and a sister. That she had done so very well.

Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 2:00pm at Riley-Antoine Funeral Home, 171 Humboldt Ave., Dorchester, MA 02121

Final Disposition: St. Michael Crematory

Funeral arrangements entrusted to Riley-Antoine Funeral Home

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