When I was a young SAHM of two toddlers, I felt a little buried in the day to day-ness of it all. Cooking, cleaning, caring for young people is a lot of work and there is little time to oneself.
And that’s when I met Jane. I was actually looking for Adrienne and went to the wrong house. It was fall, and almost dark. I walked up to a beautiful home, one that reminded me very much of the time I lived in Strasbourg. I knocked on the door and was met by a dark-haired woman maybe about 7 or so years older than me. I didn’t go inside, but the house smelled of fall soup and felt homey and welcoming.
A short time later Jane and I worked together with the young women in our congregation–our neighborhood, really. We became friends.
We talked a good deal of books. Good books we both read and loved.
We talked politics. Her mother and my grandmother knew each other. Both at one point or another had a reputation as “The most powerful woman in Utah politics.”
Sometimes, back when she would work for her parents and I was a citizen lobbyist, we would meet up at the Legislature for a day during the session. Jane took me for crab during Crab Fest at Market Street Grill.
She passed down perfectly good and hardly worn Birkenstocks to me.
I remember Jane would introduce me to people. “This is Dalene. She is a good writer.”
Jane had never written any of my writing. But she is one of those people who lift up instead of push down. She saw things in me I had either forgotten or hadn’t yet discovered about myself. She was interested in what I thought about a variety of topics. She treated me as if I were already the person I am trying to become.
Jane is one of a handful of people of whom I will say, “I want to be like her when I grow up.”
That was over 20 years ago.
Jane and I are still good friends. Even though her kids are grown and she has daughters who wear a European size 39 shoe, she still hands down a pair of Birkenstocks once in awhile.
She still cares about what I think. And she still makes me want to be a better person.
We have lost friends and family since then. Jane and her husband Dave brought dinner in and gave us gift cards with which to feed our family when Shane was diagnosed with cancer and had half of the roof of his mouth and jaw removed. And again when I was juggling a job, being a mom, and taking care of my mother as she was dying of cancer. Jane’s husband Dave has a stubborn prostate cancer than has now spread. He often doesn’t feel well at all.
On rare occasion she will just look at me.
Our hearts and our eyes will well up.
“I know you know,” she will say.
And I will nod and say “I’m sorry. I hate this for you. But I am here for you.”
And we both know.
[Day 21 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]