May 8—Lorri Ginn recalled awakening one recent night and texting Jan Holt — "are you up?"
"It wasn't too long that she called me back asking what's wrong," Ginn said.
For Holt, that's just what mothers do.
"I feel like when one of your kids needs something and they want to talk, I'm going to talk," Holt said. "A mother, to me, means you listen to what your kids have to tell you. You're never too busy to listen to them.
That includes "kids" like 54-year-old Ginn, who is not related to Holt. She called Holt "one of the most amazing mothers I have ever known."
Holt, 78, has a son who lives out of state and a grown daughter, Gina, who lives in Haskell.
She said Ginn came into the family decades ago when she married Holt's cousin. Holt said the two met again a year ago when she saw Ginn sleeping in a car.
"It was around Christmas, and it was cold," Holt said.
Ginn later moved into a rental home the Holts have on their farm near Haskell. She began helping Holt with Gina, who was born blind and has a kidney disease.
Ginn said she had run into trouble, had no place to live, and Holt took her in.
"Jan inspired me to be a better person and made me want to be a better person," Ginn said. "You see how good she is with everyone and how loved she is by everyone, and she's got a lot of friends who are there for her."
She said she sees how Holt cares for Gina and takes the daughter's health-related challenges in stride.
"Her daughter is on a special diet, and she cooks meals for her every day and takes them to her," Ginn said.
Gina Holt, 54, has had a kidney disease for several years and now lives in Haskell, Jan Holt said. Gina has been on dialysis since July 2020, she said.
"When Gina first got sick, I stayed at that hospital for two weeks without coming home," Holt said. She said that, for months, they'd go to the Wagoner dialysis clinic three times a week and go to St. John Medical Center for two days.
Ginn said she's amazed at how Holt has shown such grace and joy over the past year. She said Holt's husband, Bill, has dementia.
"From the time she gets up to the time she goes to bed, she never stops," Ginn said.
Holt said her grandmother used to say "no one ever died from hard work."
"We grew up on a farm, and you got up at six o'clock in the morning and you went to work and you didn't fuss about it," Holt said. "You took care of cows, you baled hay, you canned, you did all this stuff. I've always been used to hard work."
Holt talks about her life, even her challenges, with a joyful lilt in her voice.
But it wasn't always that way.
"When Bill first got sick, I was real depressed," she said. "I cried a lot. I just didn't want to do anything."
She said her doctor prescribed nerve pills, but they didn't help.
Holt said she decided "to just let God be my nerve pill."
"I try to pray every morning before I get out of bed," she said. "I just turn my life over to God. Whatever happens happens as though it was meant to be."
She said she also appreciates help from her friends and family.
Jan and Bill Holt have been married 58 years.
"And he's the love of my life." she said. "We took our vows seriously, not that we haven't had fights, fusses and disagreements."
Holt said she seeks to pass her positive outlook onto her children, and to others.
"I've always told Gina, with her being born blind, life is what you make it. Life is a do-it-yourself job," Holt said. "You can sit and feel sorry for yourself or you can enjoy the day and be happy. Don't always look on the bad side."