One year ago today my sweet, sister, Jane passed away..
I would like to celebrate her memory by sharing the eulogy that I gave at her memorial service.
My sister Jane was born on March 21st, 1957 to my mother and father, who were babies themselves, 19 and 21 years old.
Jane was born with Down Syndrome.
At that time there were no pamphlets, no support groups, no one to tell them what to expect..nothing.
All they had was each other and the unconditional love they had for this little bundle of joy and love they gave her, lots of it!
When my brother Scott was born a year later, Jane mimicked his every move.
She walked when he walked, she talked when he talked. She developed as if they were twins.
Janie loved being the oldest in a family of five children, she was the big “siser”.
There was never a dull moment growing up in our household and she was always the center of attention.
Scott’s memories of Jane revolved around all the family events we had, Birthdays, cookouts, holiday times.
Since their Birthdays were days apart, they always celebrated together.
My mother was always good to bake two cakes but we knew it was really Jane’s party, poor Scott. He didn’t mind.
Jane’s love for music and dance started at an early age.
My Aunt Dolores, being a wonderful dancer herself, saw this desire in Jane and started a dance class for special needs children, like Jane.
Jane loved it!
Just recently, our friend Barb King told me she saw Jane at a MARC dance and as Jane was told she had to leave, she said, “but I’m not done dancing yet.”
Jane was the Ultimate Diva and appreciated beauty and glamour.
She loved the color pink, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Ross, Elvis Priestly, her dog Boo, her family, Christmas, especially Santa Claus:)
She loved to eat and loved the Olive Garden Restaurant. She loved jewelry, perfume, sparkles and boas.
My sister in law, Sharon, loved to shop for her and always found an outfit that had lots of sparkles.
She loved her hoodies, her friends and her boyfriends and she had many!
Her all time favorite place to visit was Disney World. She would have lived there if she could have.
I was fortunate to go with her a few times to visit Mickey Mouse and see the gang. It was a treat to see it through her eyes.
Jane loved to shop and go out to lunch and thats what my sister Beth and I did with her.
Beth remembers taking her at Christmas time and walking into the store and asking, “What do you want for Christmas Janie”?
As she looked around, she said “Everything!”
My brother Bernie remembers living on Penn Road in Manchester and how we would play Barbies and kickball in the street after dinner.
My parents bought three identical bicycles, with flowered banana seats with sissy bars for Beth, Jane and I, we thought we were so cool.
Jane walked her bike all over the neighborhood and then one day she just got on and rode it!
We were all amazed and I don’t think she fell once.
About ten years ago, I spent a whole day with Jane, following her on a typical work day, I was her private paparazzi and she loved it!
What I witnessed was a true gift. She woke at 5:30am to start her day and off to work at MARC, Inc. she went.
I watched from a distance while she counted paper for the shedder. This job required a huge amount of mathematical skills.
I was in awe of her concentration and she was so proud of herself for accomplishing the task.
That evening, she went to a Special Olympics practice and I followed along.
Again, I watched from a distance to see her interacting with her peers and the volunteers there.
She worked a crowd like a famous celebrity and introduced me to all her people.
Again, I’m in awe. Jane was a magnet, people were drawn to her.
Maybe it was her smile, or her outreached hand or her soft voice.
All I knew was she had a beautiful spirit and made the world a better place.
As I drove home that night, I felt so fortunate to have had Jane as a sister all those years.
My love and admiration for her was overwhelming.
She was “special” in every sense of the word.
I realized I am the person I’ve become due to the fact I grew up with Jane and her disability with honor and pride.
Last year Janie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the thought of her going through this killed me.
She was forgetting peoples names, but she faked it well.
I knew the day she would forget my name, it would break my heart and that day was a while ago..
Three weeks ago, as I sat with her at the hospital for 5 hours, she asked me what my name was,
at least once an hour and I told her my name and reminded her about her other siblings.
As I was ready to leave , she reached out to me in her pathetic voice and said, “Don’t leave me LYNN”.
She always got to me and of course I stayed.
In closing, my family and I would like to thank all the people from MARC,Inc. and March who worked and took care of Janie.
You made her life so rich and full with your love, care and patience and I know she touched yours.
Jane is at Peace now and she will live forever in my heart. Thank you….”