Thursday, June 12, 2014

Missing my friend

My good friend, Jan Fox, died almost two weeks ago. We all knew it was coming. Jan had fought a battle for several years, but in recent months it was clear she was losing. I stopped going by, because she was often in bed; friends and I stopped asking to take her to lunch because she'd say she forgot or she didn't feel well enough. We were reduced to telephone conversations, but once she told me that if people like me would call from time to time she was just a happy camper sitting in her cozy house. She had one friend--her family called her Jan's earthly guardian angel--who she let into her life all along, but of late she didn't seem to want the rest of us too close. And I respected that, though I felt guilty that I didn't do more.
I used to try for years to get her out of the house, involved in life, but now I think I was wrong. She was where she wanted to be--not where I thought she should be. And I'm a bit ashamed about that. Never judge until you've walked a mile in a person's moccasins. And I truly believe that in the last year or so she didn't have the energy to get out.
But I valued those phone conversations. She seemed to welcome them and wanted to talk for a while. We exchanged news of our families, gossip from TCU where we'd met and both worked for many  years. She had one son, and I had four children, but we kept up on all their doings. Jan gave a wedding shower for one of my daughters and was always at all the other wedding and baby showers (there were a lot). Once a great cook, she wasn't too interested in recipes of late and I gave that up as a conversational gambit. But she seemed interested in news of my life--the books I was publishing and so on (I doubt she read any).
A few days after the memorial service, I drove by her house, drawn there I don't exactly know why. But I was pleased to see that the lawn was mowed, the bushes neatly trimmed. Jan would like that. She could spend more time than any woman I know cleaning closets and her house, but she rejected all invitations to come work on my closets.
Today I had lunch with a friend at Carshon's, our local deli, and she ordered a Rutherford sandwich--open-face turkey and cheese on a Wolferman muffin. My first thought was, "That's what Jan always ordered--and then she had strawberry delight for dessert."
At other times I felt myself thinking, "I need to call Jan," only to realize she's not there to call. One day I had a question about somebody at TCU--Jan knew absolutely everybody--and I thought, "I'll call Jan. She'll know." But I couldn't. It reminds me of my mother, whose been gone almost thirty years--but I still have questions to ask her and sometimes I look heavenward and think, "Mom, where are you when  need you."
Jan was five years younger than I am, and her death brought me a sense of my own mortality. I have to keep telling myself that while I grieve for her, I'm a different person.
As a good friend of mine says, RIP, Jan, and Rise in Glory.

2 comments:

Sally Jan Harris said...

Judy,
Beautiful. Thanks for being there when Jan would let you. She wanted to do things, but just didn't have the energy to go. I can't tell you how many times she canceled on me, but I kept nagging her until the end... to come go eat, shop or just ride around in the car to get out.
She was a precious friend.
Sally

Judy Alter said...

Sally, I've thought of you often and hope you're doing okay. When you're the caretaker as you really were, death leaves a hole in your life. Let's have lunch at Carshon's sometimes and rememer the good days.