Some thoughts and memories of Jane.
“I am fooling only myself when I say my mother exists now only in the photograph on my bulletin board or in the outline of my hand or in the armful of memories I still hold tight. She lives on beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was and her absence influences who I am. Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay. Loss is our legacy. Insight is our gift. Memory is our guide.” - Hope Edelman's Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss.
Besides my own mother, no one influenced me more than Aunt Jane. As my father’s sister she shared his foundation but she, of course, represented the female version of his values. She put into action what he believed. While he was a relatively traditional man of his generation, my father instilled in his daughters a sense of independence and Jane demonstrated it for us.
Every summer she traveled to Maine alone with her six kids. She was passionate about what Sorrento offered and chose to expose her children to it even if it meant managing it all alone. As a young adolescent Jane caught me swimming in the heated pool and stated, “You are swimming in the pool? Why aren’t you in the Bay?” This single comment impacted my approach to life more than any piece of advice. Since then, I have always been hyperaware of indulging in anything remotely decadent. Jane’s words resonate in my mind. As a teenager enlisted in her trail crews we discovered that a 50-60 year old woman could set a pace that challenged even the strongest of us. As a college student I watched her fly across the bay alone in a catamaran…going (almost) 60 at 60. It demonstrated a passion for sailing, a sense of independence and daringness in life. Jane never shied away from doing what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. She followed her passions and in her unobtrusive way she passed those interests down to so many. Anything to do with horticulture, building trails, sailing and conservation will always remind me of Jane. The farm, the mountains and the bay were her life. She engaged them, applied their lessons, passed on an appreciation for them and, ultimately, left them better than she found them.
Her eyes, her voice and her characteristic stride are etched in my mind. “Her presence influenced who I was and her absence influences who I am.” I am so appreciative for her impact on all of us. She was a gem.
In honor of her love of horticulture and her wonderful daughters, here is more from that excerpt.
“Nature often offers metaphors more elegant than any we can manufacture. In the redwood ecosystem, all seeds are contained in pods called burls, tough brown clumps that grow where the mother tree's trunk and root system meet. When the mother tree is logged, blown over, or destroyed by fire the trauma stimulates the burls' growth hormones the seeds release, and trees sprout around her, creating the circle of daughters. The daughter trees grow by absorbing sunlight their mother cedes to them when she dies. And they get the moisture and nutrients they need from their mother's root system which remains intact even after her leaves die. Although the daughters exist independently of their mother above ground, they continue to draw sustenance from her underneath.”
More than anything else, Jane produced lovely children and that will be her ultimately legacy. Her spirit lives on in all of you.