Jayme is beautiful. There is nothing plain jane or small thinking about her. Upon meeting this bombshell, I remember that she was the always-booked, somewhat quiet, master designer behind the new Viva Voce Salon hot spot downtown Hudson. She didn’t say much when I worked with her – I know now that she’s painfully shy around strangers. But back then (and now), her clients spoke volumes. Regular, every day people would come into the salon tired, exhausted by the world and its demands and leave completely refreshed and glamourous. It is a waste to see Jayme and then go home. For the the love, have a date or find a reason for a girlfriend dinner. Because by the time she’s done with you, you’re going to look bomb.
Not only was Jayme good at her job; she was fast. Like lightening fast. I’ve worked at multiple salons and am a self–proclaimed beauty school drop out; never have I ever seen a full foil, color retouch and 2 mens cuts play out as fast and well as Jayme executes them during processing time. And that’s nothing. When she first took over the salon, she gave it a minute. But soon after, new stylists, new menus, and shiny restored chandeliers were in place (and let me be crystal clear when I say that the salon was already creme-de-la-creme cute). Contracts were signed and before we knew it, Viva had expanded into the romantic LOFT space upstairs, which was whisked into a white, dreamy mess of bridal party styles and coffee on weekends. The space across from the salon (Vocha Beauty Bar), became a makeup artist’s dream. Once she had conquered the building, Jayme took a moment to sit down. And that’s when it hit her.
The last four years had meant great success for my friend, and thankfully so as distraction from what might have derailed the rest of us. What not everyone realized at the time, was that while young Jayme was busy building Viva, she had lost her father, three grandparents and her mother…all within 3 years.
Jayme and her equally beautiful sisters, Whitney and Lindsey, are three of the most resilient people I know. I’ll never forget the strength that the three of them exuded as they stood at their mother’s visitation. I don’t know what I was expecting to see that day but it seemed that there was light shining down from Heaven on them. They had a holy, unnatural presence that I can only attribute to God. My limited perspective of their upbringing tells the story of a sweet family in Southern, rural Minnesota. They were raised by two loving parents who always had their best interests in mind. But the demon of alcohol had, had its way with their Dad and the family paid for it, dearly. When the treatment program failed, no one knew what to do. Jayme recalls visiting her Mom (Carrie) & siblings, who were staying with friends and family during that timeframe – going house to house as they tried to figure out what came next. She and her sisters brought their father to a final treatment program following his divorce from their mother; but the results were temporary. Carrie was then reacquainted with her high school sweetheart (Jeff), who reaffirmed her as the greatest woman in the world and loved on her, not knowing that it would be the last, few years of her life.
Jayme’s father, Gary, was not as fortunate. On December 15th, 2011, he was diagnosed with a hole in his esophagus. The hole was surgically repaired but nothing could prevent the organ damage that returning to the bottle took on his body. Jayme recalls taking him shopping for a suit to wear to her sister Lindsey & then finance, Shane’s, wedding in June of 2012 – nothing in his own closet fit his frail and shrunken frame. Their mother Carrie, was also ill during this timeframe and upon seeing one another at the ceremony, Gary wept. It had never been his intention to hurt her or the girls and he was sad to see his bride, also ill. He passed away on October 26th, 2013.
I know that there are many things about that man that could be seen as a source of pain for Jayme and her sisters. But she doesn’t see it the way. Or talk about him in that light. In fact, all ll I ever hear about her father is how he has visited her in her dreams, the scents that remind her of him and that his name is a part of most of her passwords, everywhere. I imagine that it’s easier to see all of the good in the people we hold most dear, once they are gone. To imagine the conversations we wish we could have had, the memories we wish they’d been a part of. We remember what they really excelled at, and how good they made us feel in their prime. The greatest gift we can give them is to remember them with grace!
Jayme’s mother, Carrie, had also faced an extremely uphill battle. In 2011, she had had a physical and brought a slight bump in her abdomen to the doctor’s attention. The bump turned out to be a cancerous tumor on her pancreas. Just after her daughter, Lindsey’s, wedding in June of 2012, she had it removed. The “whipple procedure” surgery was very intense, but it worked. For a while. In July of 2013, spots on Carrie’s liver were found. She was put on chemo pills, which seemed to work wonderfully and without side effects, till September of 2014. The pills had ceased to be effective and another scan the next month unveiled growth in the liver spots. After multiple doctors telling her that surgery was too risky/not an option, Dr. Kendrick of Mayo, disagreed. Carrie’s daughter, Lindsey, later told me that “hearing that the tumors could be surgically removed was the BEST news ever.” It was what they had been waiting to hear.
But even after surgery, the cancer wouldn’t quit. Despite her stance of positivity, the darkness had grabbed hold of Carrie and didn’t want to let go. Over the Summer of 2016, Jayme brought her mother to an alternative medicine clinic in Mexico. They spent their days receiving treatment, soaking up the sun and then retreating to their room to relax. The meal plan was green and the doctors were hopeful – how could someone in Carrie’s condition possibly remain so physically strong and emotionally positive like she was? She was a mystery to everyone she encountered. She and Jayme shared treasured mother/daughter time during that trip. It wasn’t until the plane ride home, that Jayme saw the face of her mother’s ugly disease fight back. Carrie was complaining of stomach pain while traveling; so much so, that her husband rushed her to the hospital upon her return to Missouri, where she was treated for dehydration, pneumonia and the swelling of her abdomen/legs. She was discharged, home, and things weren’t looking good. So her three girls brought her to Mayo in a last attempt to save her life. But not even Mayo could stand in the way of her disease. Jayme recalls several family prayers with pastors during that time, but the memory that stands out the most is of her mother looking straight at the painting of Jesus when she passed. Jayme says that she’ll never forget the energy and fervor with which her Mother spoke onto each of her daughters’ lives just before that moment. She then watched as her beacon of light and strength, surrendered to God and went home; it was September 6th, 2016.
At her funeral, the three strong sisters stood tall, seemingly untarnished by the whirlwind that had ripped through their lives. Perhaps it was that they were accustomed to funerals by this point. Or perhaps it was the tenacity that their mother had instilled in them at a young age – never to see the world from a negative perspective; always positive. To choose love. To see the good in everyone and to press forward with grace and appreciation. Whatever it was, I attribute it to Carrie Anderson Mees – a true warrior for the Lord!
As I mentioned, Jayme is the quieter type. But the next time you’re in her chair, ask her about her God stories and then sit back and enjoy the ride. There have been times in her life where she fully relied on God, financially, from a business point. She trusted Him to comfort her while she was living alone and fully embraced Him when she didn’t know where else to turn and wanted to call her mom. With family over two hours away, Jayme has done it, alone. She has had her ups and downs but she came out on top – two of her God-given gifts that I respect the most are her 1. Faith. At not one point in her journey did I ever see Jayme doubt God, shun God or get mad at Him for what He’d taken from her. She had faith. And 2. Mercy. Jayme has an inexpressible gift of showing mercy toward others. I’m not inviting you to walk all over her (I assure you that like any of us, she has a sassy side!) but those who have, know that her mercies are new every morning. She truly has the ability to forgive and forget in an instant. And that is something I strive for. Even in my own experience, where my weaknesses have caused me to make mistakes and lose friends, Jayme didn’t give up on me. She has been raw and has demanded more of me. For that, we have an unshakeable bond that nothing could break.
When someone sees you at your worst and still accepts you, that is true friendship.
When she was 18, Jayme approached her family’s mailbox, only to find a note about God leading her to “still waters” (Psalm 23:2b). Naturally, she took that as a reason to accept a job at a spa in “Stillwater,” MN. She moved over two hours away from home and anyone she knew, without question. Soon thereafter, she and later, her Stillwater roommate, left to work at the nearby Viva Voce Salon in Hudson. Only in her wildest dreams, could she have imagined what happened next.
The then Viva Voce Salon owner approached Jayme about ownership and she accepted! Without a background in business, she gratefully forged ahead without any fear at bay.
Today, my friend stands strong as the owner of a successful business in a booming town. I’m proud of her. Proud of her success, her strength, her stamina. But what I’m most proud of is her unwavering faith. It is on that note, that I announce her new foundation, Hearts of Love. Jayme’s mother, Carrie Anderson, was born on March 30th, 1961 and entered Heaven on September 6th, 2016. But her legacy lives on. Not only are her daughter Lindsey’s twins due on the same day only 1 year later, but she remains in the hearts of so many whom her positivity touched during her lifetime. As such, her three daughters have started a foundation that insists upon nurturing others who are in the hospital with those they love. It strives on beautifying those who don’t take the time to beautify themselves and it takes pleasure in bringing small joys to families who have gone through similar struggles over the past few years.
It is with great honor that I announce the Hearts of Love Day of Beauty. In collaboration with Beauty from Brokenness, Viva Voce Salon will be donating hair styling and makeup services to a select group of women, free of charge. We want to service women who have stood in the gap and shown love, even when it wasn’t convenient or deserved. We want to show the world their strength and reward them for their resilience. If you’d like to nominate someone, please submit your story to ________ by _____. If selected, your nominee will not only receive hair and makeup but professional photographs and a guaranteed night of shared stories and new & renewed friendships.