of Little Rock, AR
February 19, 1930 - November 15, 2023
FLORENCE ''FLO'' JENDERS, 93, of Little Rock, ''Mother Par Excellence'', born on February 19, 1930 passed away peacefully November 15, 2023. She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Annie (Niedzwiedz) Sarna; her infant son, Patrick Jenders and her siblings, Agnes (Sarna) Renner and Sylvester Sarna. She is survived by her children, Tim Jenders and Debbie Rutledge (Steve); nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. How does one honor 93 years of sacrifice, strength and love in a couple paragraphs? Impossible, right! Well, impossible, or at least improbable, would accurately describe what Mom was able to achieve and overcome in her 93 years.She was almost solely responsible for nurturing her children from infancy to adulthood. Mom seemed to work around the clock, sacrificing her own pursuits and desires, again and again, to provide stability, safety and comfort to us. Even when working two jobs and managing all aspects of the home (cooking, cleaning, bills, laundry, etc.), she was amazingly always where we needed her to be and attuned to our lives. She attended baseball games and piano recitals, packed school lunches, cooked and served dinner, organized surprise birthday parties and much more. We were truly blessed to be the focus of her selfless life.Mom's ability to overcome life's traumas with quiet dignity remains both a lesson and inspiration. She faced adversities that could have easily made her bitter or despair, but she instead chose to be pleasant, cheerful and positive. Health, or a lack of it, became another set of trials as she aged, but she, as usual, met those issues head on, without complaint. She was diagnosed by more than one physician with something like, ''You're one tough lady!''. And that was by no means an exaggeration. She survived diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, breast cancer, spinal fusions, a knee replacement, Covid, gall bladder removal and numerous debilitating UTIs along the way. And her pain tolerance was legendary. For example, after complaining of ''a slight discomfort'' in her stomach, she was rushed in for an emergency surgery to remove her gall bladder. The surgeon described it as the most inflamed organ he had ever seen. What she went through in the last two months of her 93 years would have been tough for even a healthy 25-year-old to handle. And until her last day at home this past September, she soldiered through severe morning arthritic pain to ''Suit Up and Show Up'' each and every day. She didn't stay in bed or in pajamas; she fully dressed and lived her best available day, every single day.Mom went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Elementary School in Marche and graduated from Mount St. Mary's Academy in Little Rock in 1949. A hard and conscientious worker, she held a number of secretarial and retail positions (including Franke's Bakery, Timex, Arnold's Beauty Supply, 7-11, Circle K, Walmart) and she worked into her 70's.She was conscientious about friendships as well, cultivating and maintaining several decade-spanning very close friendships from both school and work.She loved gardening, animals of all kinds and sports. In her final years, television provided much of her stimulation, but she also took up reading mystery books, coloring intricate pictures and doing puzzles. She became an even more rabid fan of her beloved Razorbacks and Houston Astros, watching every game she could. On those days when mental clarity waned, she was known to claim friendships with the likes of Steve Harvey and Kelly Ripa, which led to humorous family discussions.To our friends who didn't have the chance to be exposed to her thoughtfulness, please know that Mom was fond of and appreciated each of you, because you supported what was most important to her - her children. So, we'd ask both family and friends to consider every thoughtful gesture, each smile, encouragement and small kindness we've shared, or will share, as a reflection of Mom's heart. She was truly responsible for them all!Love you, Mom!Funeral Mass will be at 11:00 am on Friday, December 1, 2023 at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Little Rock, preceded by Rosary at 10:00 am. Honorary pallbearers are Steve Rutledge, Gary Weare, Mike Weare, Neal Daley, Charles Doerpinghaus, Craig Knox and Ray Moix.In lieu of flowers, family requests donations to Dorcas House (https://urmissionlr.org) or Women & Children First (https://www.wcfarkansas.org/donate).
Tim's tribute to Mom notes how all of our kindnesses ultimately came from her. I was reminded of a recent time in the rehab center when one of the CNAs said to me "I was bragging on you with my colleagues until I met your brother." I said "It's all how Mom raised us."
A memory from grade school at St. Theresa's - Mom used to sometimes pack my school lunch with a simple sandwich of cooked chicken pieces with Miracle Whip on plain white bread. My friends liked the sandwich so much, Mom started making four to five of those sandwiches, so I could share with my friends.
Our tribute mentions surprise birthday parties, but I wanted to provide more details.Mom surprised both Tim and me with parties at milestone birthdays, and she was very good at it, since we were always truly surprised.I don't know too many details about Tim's 21st party, but folks were all there despite a delay in Tim getting there well past the planned time.For my 18th birthday party, Mom organized something at a local community center. The cross section of people there, from school and work and friends I didn't even know she knew existed, was awesome.I was at college in Louisiana when I turned 21. Mom organized with my suitemate to show up unannounced, with 21 individual presents already laid out, in my dorm room.
Mom's obituary mentions that she worked at convenience stores. But it didn't mention that she received thank you letters from sheriffs and other police officers for helping them solve crimes. It also doesn't mention that she worked night shift and dealt with robbers. She told me once that she closed the cash register drawer on one would-be robber's hands. She didn't tell us until very recently that one robber hit her in the head with a gun, but she smartly feigned unconsciousness until he left.
I am adding a few anecdotes into the Guestbook that didn't quite fit into the main tribute:You know how when you're in college, getting mail is huge. When the Smurfs came out, Mom started sending me one every few weeks, with personalized notes. When she sent the King Smurf, the note was "I proclaim this day Debbie Jenders day, and Debbie gets whatever she wants this day". Definitely made going to the post office a treat!
I will always remember your mother being such a kind and strong woman. My condolences to you and your family.