268: Goodbye, Jane


It’s really difficult to know where to start with this sort of thing.  It’s an ending, so how do you start an ending?

At the shore. 1930.

Last night, at 7:01 pm, my mother-in-law died.  We lost her years ago.  About 12 years ago.  Still, her physical death…  well, I’m sad.  We’re all sad.  I don’t know what else to say about it.  We have all been missing her for years which you would think might make it easier.  It doesn’t, not really.  And then again, I suppose it does.

Jane with her father at the shore.

If I had to sum up Jane in one word that word would be lively.  She was full of life.  And I mean full.  Jane was a woman who experienced everything with absolute attention and a positive outlook.  We would go places with her and end up spending the time with new people because Jane would invite them to join us.  She was involved.  There.  That’s the word.  Involved.

Jane was a nurse.  A wife.  A mother to four children.  A grandmother.  A woman who, even in her 70s, would ride the big roller coasters with her grandchildren.  She was a Big Sister and she volunteered for Meals on Wheels, delivering food to the elderly and housebound.  She liked to dance and sing and roller skate.  She read mysteries, worked on crossword puzzles.  She didn’t smoke or drink.  In fact, she did everything right.  Even so, she ended up with severe dementia.  It has been years since she recognized anyone, and for the past two years or so she’s been unable to speak or do things for herself.  That’s what dementia does.

I am grateful to have known Jane, to have had her liveliness in my life.  It seems like we’ve lost her twice.  Once to the dementia, and now to death.

We’ll miss you, Jane.

43 Comments on “268: Goodbye, Jane”

  1. I am sorry for your loss. You have honored her well in this blog tribute.

  2. milkayphoto says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your mother-in-law. She sounds like she was an amazing woman. I am sure she has now found the purest form of peace. My sincere condolences for your loss.

  3. So sorry for your loss Robin. My Grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and we experienced the same thing with her. This blog post is a great way to remember her…full of life!

  4. Hallysann says:

    You can remember your mother-in-law, Jane, whenever you need her and she will still be there, “involved” in your happy memories, still making you smile.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. {{Hugs}}

  6. anhinga says:

    Your tribute to your mother-in-law is beautiful. My mother was in dementia for only two years, which is in a way, two deaths. I agree, the second is no easier. I am so sorry for you and your husband. The honor you had in knowing her all these years is what you will take away. I hope the blessings of those years will ease your pain somewhat.

  7. QuoinMonkey says:

    Robin, a beautiful piece. I’m so sorry. Blessings to you and your family. Your vintage photographs capture a timeline of her life. Just beautiful.

  8. Marianne says:

    Robin, this is a beautiful tribute to your mother-in-law. Jane sounds like a wonderful person. So sorry to hear of her dementia and recent passing. Life just doesn’t seem fair sometimes.

  9. dragonfae says:

    I”m so sorry Robin. My dad’s father had Alzheimer’s for years before he passed on … I know exactly what you mean about losing them twice. I hope you can take solace from her finally being at peace. Big hugs to you and your hubby.

  10. judithhb says:

    Robin I can empathize with you on this. My mother had Alzheimer’s and for the last 10 years of her life didn’t recognize any of us except for fleeting lucid moments.
    I choose to remember my mother as she was before this awful thing happened to her. Full of life, involved with her family, sharing and caring. I would really encourage you to think of your mother in law as she was.
    Thanks for sharing this lovely tribute to Jane with us.

  11. What a lovely tribute to your loved one. I am so sorry for your loss.

  12. Kel says:

    Robin you have created a moving tribute to a woman who, by the sounds of it, lived life well until her illness took over. Alzheimers and dementia rob too many families today. May she rest in peace and may you and M the elder recover from the double loss.
    Thankyou for sharing her story, it’s a reminder to each of us to live life to the full each day. For we don’t know what tomorrow brings.

  13. A wonderful tribute that speaks eloquently to a wonderful person.

  14. boatacrosstheriver says:

    I am very sorry for your and your family’s loss, Robin…beautiful pictures of her in this post. It makes me, an absolute stranger to her, feel connected to her. In every picture I see me, my daughter, my mother, or grandmothers…

  15. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Robin. You did write a wonderful tribute to her, what a life she must have had!

  16. carlaat says:

    So sorry for your loss. A beautiful tribute to her.

  17. Wow, Robin, I’m so sorry for your double loss! Dementia has got to be terrifying–a lot like mental illness, I guess, except there’s no coming back. It must be hard to have twice the loss, twice the grief! Hugs to you, my friend!

  18. Christine says:

    A beautiful remembrance…I’m glad that you were able to know her at her best. Peace.

  19. tjfox says:

    I am so sorry, dear. It is heart wrenching to lose anyone, but to lose them in every way but the physical and have them linger in that state to finally leave us completely is so much more. {{{hugs}}}

  20. penpusherpen says:

    a sad ending, Robin, for such a full of life woman, to be struck down with dementia and now death has come to call. You’ve said it all in your blog, she shared herself and brought such light to everyone’s life. She will be missed by you and yours, but the memories will always be sweet. A very special tribute to a special woman. Thank you for sharing my friend and hugs from across the Ocean at this extremely sad time… xPenx

  21. Team Oyeniyi says:

    A lovely tribute to your mother-in-law. Clearly you got on very well. Our condolences for your loss.

  22. Karma says:

    A very sweet tribute. How nice to have such wondeful old pictures. My sympathies.

  23. Robin says:

    Thank you so much everyone for the condolences, the hugs, and the lovely words.

  24. Marcie says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your mother-in-law. My deepest condolences to you and your husband at her passing.

  25. bearyweather says:

    I am sorry you have suffered this loss twice (I know what that is like), From this wonderful remembrance you wrote I can tell she lived life well … and that is all we can ask for, isn’t it? Hang onto the memories and she will live in you. Sending you my sympathies ….

  26. Val says:

    I’m so sorry Robin. Hugs.

  27. comingeast says:

    With just a few words and well chosen pictures, you brought the sadness of Jane’s death home to the reader. I am so sorry for you and your family. Wish we had more Janes in the world.

  28. My sincerest condolences.

  29. SAJ says:

    hi robin – i’m so sorry for your loss. The picture of Jane with her with her dad at the shore made me tear up – for some reason there is something that makes me sad to see childhood pictures like that…i guess it is a sort of longing for happy times. I have seen dementia and the horrible things it does to people, so I understand what you wrote about. I guess we could say that she is thankfully out of her misery and hopefully in a better place. My thoughts are with you and your family in this tough time.

  30. elmediat says:

    My mother-in-law, like your own suffers from dementia brought on by Alzheimer’s.My wife came home from visiting her mother on Sunday. She said mom wasn’t there, just the body. Hardly a glimmer now of the person she once was. Such a rapid change in these last couple of months. Your tribute is lovely. I’ll share this post with my wife. All the best in this difficult time.

  31. Robin says:

    Thank you all so much for your thoughts, hugs, and condolences. A few more have been added since I last posted a thank you so I thought I should come by and post another.

    Elmediat: It is horrible how fast the changes can occur when dealing with dementia, not giving anyone much time to adjust to it. I’ll keep you all in my thoughts. It’s a very upsetting situation, and I have not always been sure our medical advances have, in fact, been doing the right thing, especially after seeing my mother-in-law in a situation that she had to deal with when her mother got dementia. She made it clear she didn’t want her children to have to deal with the same things. But… the alternative solutions aren’t appealing either.

  32. It was a cruel way for her and her family to loose her before her time. Your memories shared here..ones she would have wanted all to remember her by, live on. May she now rest in peace.

  33. Derrick says:

    So sorry for your loss.

  34. Dana says:

    What an amazing tribute to your mother-in-law, Robin. The photos, the words– everything is so beautiful here. Dementia is such a difficult affliction– here’s praying that Jane is in a lively, full place once more. xo

  35. […] should be arriving home today.  We said goodbye to my mother-in-law (Jane) this weekend.  If I arrive home before this scheduled post goes out, I’ll fill in a few […]

  36. Robin, This is the first time I’ve seen your tribute, thanks to your hyperlink in #283. What a beautiful testimonial. You poignantly captured the essence of Jane. I heard the album was beautiful as well. I love the pictures. Thank you for expressing what many of us feel. Janice

  37. […] Other blues of summer include the blue-eyed grass and chickory, representing some of the wildflowers I’ve gotten to know on my daily outings.  The Crooked Man symbolizes our trip to Pittsburgh and Idlewild with our granddaughters and their parents.  The sunset is all about the blue skies of summer, and a nod at how I’ve been learning to use the manual settings, including the white balance (set to tungsten in that sunset photo), on my camera.  The dragonfly has become almost an emblem for me of this summer.  It seemed like we had more dragonflies than usual around the pond, and they were more than cooperative about having their picture taken.  And the hydrangea reminds me of our trip back to Pennsylvania to say goodbye to Jane. […]

  38. […] following is a recipe I got from my mother-in-law many years ago.  I like eggs in general, and this recipe is one of my favorites.  Some people […]

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