Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jane Garrett Deathe, 1943 - 2012

The following is the eulogy delivered at the service held in Jane's memory at Sage Chapel on Cornell's campus, Ithaca, New York, on November 24, 2012.  Although I am uncomfortable with the idea of posting eulogies online, the idea of sharing the memory of my mother-in-law, my wife's mother and my children's grandmother gives me such comfort.
A Eulogy for Jane Garrett Deathe
When Catherine first brought me to Ithaca, it was to meet her parents.  We hadn’t known each other long.  Murray, for his part, regarded me with the appropriate amount of skepticism due any ponytailed, Subaru-driving hippie-type with designs on his daughter.  But Jane, from the first hug, took me in.  From that moment on, I was part of the family as far as she was concerned.   She made me feel so special, so loved.  So, so loved.
But that was how it was with Jane.  She loved people.  She took them in.  She took them in to her family and she loved them. 
And we loved her.
Almost twenty years have passed since then and I, like you, am having an enormous amount of trouble just believing that this is real.  That this has happened. 
And I, like you, am made sad by her passing.
But it is a great comfort to be here with you.  It’s a comfort because it affirms with a force greater than her death, the reality of Jane’s love.  You are all the proof.  It is Jane’s love that binds us permanently, indelibly together in a vast and diverse network.  And it is again a comfort to know that here and now, although Jane’s life may have ended, her love will continue on.  It is here, now.
Jane loved Murray.  He thanks the alphabet for bringing them together, quite literally.  There being no one in grade eleven French with a last name beginning with an E or an F, Garret followed Death in the seating chart.  And so Jane sat directly behind Murray. 
She couldn’t ignore me, Murray always says but anyone who has seen pictures of Murray and Jane from those days knows that they made a stunning couple.  They learned very little French but they made a stunning couple.
That was the fall of 1961. 
And that is when their adventure began. 
Jane loved Murray.  And when he along with more than a handful of Canadian boys left for The States in 1963 to play hockey at Cornell, she followed him, driving a Volkswagen Bug that her father had given her down to Ithaca whenever she could.  It was here that she met Robin and Jay, who, like Jane, had Canadian boyfriends playing for the Big Red.
Things happen.  Murray and Jane married in 1965 and the doctors’ suspicions were confirmed with the birth of the twins, Catherine and Barbara, that following year. 
Jane became a mother.
A mom. 
And Jay and Robin became Aunt Jay and Aunt Robin. 
Their boyfriends, David and Errol, became uncles too. 
Murray and Jane became Mom and Dad. 
Jane, with every cell and sinew, every beat of her heart, became Mom.
And the Volkswagen Bug was sold and became a Dune Buggy.
But that wasn’t enough.  Jane wasn’t done.  She was only beginning.  In fall of 1971 Sandra was born and along with the twins, they, Jane, Catherine, Barb and Sandra, became “The Girls”.
Barb and Catherine grew up and went to college.  Sandra, five years younger, stayed home and made sure that Jane kept very busy.
Catherine met me and Sandra met Jason and we, Jason and I, became her boys.  She loved us.  We were her sons.
Then Mom became Grandma Jane.  First, to Chloe and then Jesse, Marcus and another Jane Frances.  This new incarnation of Jane threw herself into her role as grandmother with the energy of a teenager and, again, a love that was boundless.
All the while, Jane had been lacing a multi-spoked and rolling wheel of friendships, too.  The other mothers she met had become the dinner group.  And Jane and Murray’s house became a refuge, a home away from home, for all manner of people.  A warm bed for a week, a home-cooked meal on a Thursday night or a room for a month or two, it didn’t matter what you needed, what your politics were, Jane took you in.  Gave you a ride.  Jane loved you and gave you a pillow and a blanket and shared a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, a homemade cookie or maybe five or six.  Jessica and Kevin, Julia and Andy, and still unnamed others, she listened to your stories, the longer the better, and left a light on for you if you were coming home late.
She loved you, too.
She loved stories.  But it was her story we all enjoyed so much.  It was a story of love.  It was a love story.  A great and wonderful love story.
But as with any great love story with each page that turns you know you are closer to the end.  But still you can’t put it down.  And then you come to the end and you are changed.
And we are all changed. 
Because of her life story. 
Because of her love story.