When I spoke about my dad nearly 15 years ago, I was struck by how impossible it was to distill a person’s life into a few bullet points because we are all so much more than the sum of our parts. My mother was more than a Shakerite, a Delta Gamma, an Ohio Wesleyan graduate, a nursery school teacher, a Brownie troop leader, a garden club MVP or a past president of the South Euclid Women’s club.
She was more than a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, an in-law, a mother or a friend. She was a woman who radiated warmth. Literally and figuratively. Girlie was always hot-if you came to our house; you brought a sweater 12 months out of the year. She had many sides and one of her most sparkling facets was the abundance of her generous spirit. She was generous with praise, gifts, encouragement, and support. And she could lavish you with love.
For me, this took many forms. From her tenderness in caring for me even before I was born-she’d sit on the steps leading to the second floor of our Dorshwood house during storms so she wouldn’t see the lightning that so frightened her because she didn’t want to frighten me. It worked. I’ve always loved storms. JRocking me to sleep and singing songs she wrote about me and our collie Mac. All the festive birthday parties, Easter egg coloring, cookie baking and listening with genuine attentiveness to every last detail of my little girl life.
Her words continued to encourage me. From notes in my lunch bags during Junior High to letters received at college filled with praise for good grades (sometimes) and reminders to take my vitamins. She told me to remember that “this too shall pass” and when I felt intimidated or unsure to “act as if.” She heartily encouraged me to move to Chicago and the day before we left, told me to “ Let it happen and don’t hold back.”
But we know there’s much more to Mom that this, so let’s get serious for a moment. ...she insisted on ordering the patty melt at Mavis Winkle’s, delighted in drinking Perrier on ice in a crystal goblet, devoured my pumpkin bread and… who could forget her torrid love affair with chocolate?
She blossomed by the water whether in St. Michaels’ MD, Chautauqua Lake in NY or more recently as an enthusiastic crew member on board our sailboat. We were heeling (safely) in some pretty juicy winds and she looked over at me and exclaimed, “I really like it when we tip!” Her rather extensive lighthouse collection spoke to this passion.
But boy oh boy did my mother love sports. Baseball, golf, you name it, with the crown jewel being, of course, football. Not to be sexist, but Mom knew more about that game than any dude I’ve ever met. You may think of Jane as “sweet”, a term used to describe her that she thoroughly disliked, but if you ever watched a football game with her, I can guarantee sweet would not come to mind. Girlie let fly with some seriously salty language.
But you could forgive her that, I’m sure. My beautiful mama made us all feel so good, didn’t she? She was the BEST listener and made us feel accepted for all of our humanness, flaws and all.
She was and is, the essence of grace.
I will never find the words to adequately express what she means to me. She and I have a powerful connection and though I am grieving her fiercely, I know that she is still looking out for me, guiding me and loving me right back, heart to heart, as always. It continues to be an honor and a privilege to be her daughter.
I’ll end my remarks with a quote from one of our favorite storybook characters, Winnie the Pooh.
“If ever there is tomorrow when we are not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”