Many might think the greatest gift my parents gave me was the financial, earthly treasure from our family business, Chick-fil-A. No doubt, this is a tremendous blessing, but it’s far from what I hold most dear. You see, my parents didn’t come from money. In fact, my mother, Jeannette McNeil Cathy, was raised during the Great Depression by a single-mom after her father left when she was a baby – far from ideal. But Mother would tell you this was not a disadvantage. At the age of 5 she was introduced to the perfect Father, her heavenly Father. Upon Him the foundation of her life was built.
Mother was an accomplished performer, singing and dancing her way across Atlanta stages as a young child. Her beautiful voice led her to sing at local revivals where she learned about a Father who would never leave or forsake her. She was an experienced musician, playing piano and trumpet in churches throughout Atlanta for God’s glory. Even as a young woman, Mother had a strong devotion to God’s Word. The ladies in her church took notice and pulled together a fund to send her to seminary. Her love for the Bible only deepened as mother married my dad, Truett, had three children, helped grow a business, and ran a household on our farm south of Atlanta.
In later years anyone dropping by my parent’s home in the afternoon would glimpse my mother sitting at her kitchen table, Bible open, praying to her heavenly Father. She was always talking to Him: thanking the Lord for the beautiful clouds, the gift of life, or with help finding the TV remote (I can still hear her gentle, insistent voice, “Now Father, I know You know where I left that remote. If You would just remind me, we can find it a whole lot quicker together”). Mother walked with God. She talked with God. He was her constant companion throughout her 92 years on this earth.
I’ve yet to mention Mother’s self-taught talent for painting, her welcoming hospitality, determined fix-it-herself mentality, or delicious homemade meals (don’t worry, I wrote a book about it all J). Despite her petite stature, Mother was a giant. I think my dad said it best when comparing he and mom’s accomplishments: “Jeannette can and has done it all! All I ever did was put a piece of chicken between two buns.”
In 2017 the Jeannette Cathy Learning Center opened its doors on the campus of Impact 360 Institute in Pine Mountain, GA. Dedicated to inspiring future generations, the center was built to cultivate life-long learners and lovers of the Lord. Impact 360 Fellows, Master’s students, Propel & Immersion students, and guests utilize the incredible facility year-round. I especially love the activity cubies throughout the main floor of the Learning Center which contain supplies to enjoy some of my mother’s favorite activities: painting, baking, music, study, etc.
My parents left an incredible legacy. Or better said, they lived a legacy. While Dad’s business success is inspiring, the legacy I cherish most – the inheritance that means more than any possession – is the example of my father and mother’s lives.
While Dad’s business success is inspiring, the legacy I cherish most – the inheritance that means more than any possession – is the example of my father and mother’s lives.
To read more stories of my mom and our family, check out my newest book A Quiet Strength: The Life and Legacy of Jeannette M. Cathy and this Impact 360 Podcast episode.