Thank You, Jane

ImageToday was my mother-in-law’s funeral. She was my husband’s step-mother, but the only mother-in-law I’ve known. Jane had a stroke last year, and never recovered, as she had complications, which came on suddenly and took her life in the same manner. I posted earlier this week about looking for a specific photograph of her, which I eventually found, and is displayed here. She is probably my age in this picture. I feel young, as I suspect she did when we took her picture that day, not so many years ago.

But I am writing tonight to tell you of the wonderful memorial service we had today. The hospice chaplain read some bible verses that my husband’s Dad chose, but then two close friends each gave a eulogy. One read a chosen poem, and the lyrics to “their song,” I Only Have Eyes for You.  The other friend talked about how he knew Jane before he knew my FIL, when he met my FIL, and when he found out that they had been dating and were getting married. He spoke about the pure serendipity of the fact that two separate people whom he knew and loved came together and were eventually married. It was a wonderful tribute to Jane – the caring and generous person that she was, how she loved NFL football (and would even ask for Al to keep my FIL at the hunting camp so she could watch her football games uninterrupted), and how she was loved and lovingly cared for during her last days.

We could all hope for such a wonderful tribute when we meet our end. Someone to talk about who we were, and what impact we had on the lives of the people we loved, and who loved us. There was no one preaching about salvation or the need to complete a checklist of items to get into heaven; there was, instead, a loving tribute to the person that Jane was, and how she was always more concerned about you than she was herself. “I’m fine, how are you?” was her answer when you asked, when she was receiving chemotherapy 10-ish years ago for ovarian cancer, which she survived. This was also her answer if she were ill with a minor sickness, or dealing with her father’s death. As Al pointed out, she always turned the conversation from herself to you. She had impeccable manners that would lead you to believe you had just cooked the most delicious meal in the history of the South, even if you had burned the bread and overcooked a simple steak.

I loved hearing stories about her that I had not heard before. I laughed and cried, and hoped that someone would do the same for me when I meet my end. The poem that was read was about a ship that sets asail; even though it crosses the horizon and can no longer be seen, it is still there in all its glory. Our memories live after our loved ones pass on to whatever adventures await them. We can only see them for a brief time, and watch with love, regret, or remorse as they they pass over the horizon; but we know how glorious a ship they were, and can forever remember the glint of the sun as it reflects off their sails, as it crosses over into that place that is no longer within our view. We grieve, and mourn, and wish that the ship had turned once again in our direction, even as we know that it cannot.

Thank you, Jane, for your kindness over our years together. Thank you for the laughs, the memories, the recipes, and the honest advice. You were one of a kind, and I will miss you.