Monday, August 10, 2015

Singing Jan home

I went to the funeral of Jan Jones today, a woman I’d worked with on three book projects and admired greatly. Jan taught high school English, speech and drama for many years. When she retired, she became historian and researcher extraordinaire. She published two books with TCU Press—Billy Rose Present Casa Mañana and Renegades, Showmen & Angels, a theatrical history of Fort Worth. She was part of a group of women who collaborated on Grace & Gumption: Stories of Fort Worth Women and Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook. For a few years there we were a tight-knit group. I miss those ladies and was glad to see some of them at the service today.

What I realized today is that I knew Jan professionally but not personally. In my mind she was in one slot—historian and writer. But today I learned there were so many other sides to her very full life. She had a close and fairly large family and was especially close to nieces and nephews, one of whom died suddenly and tragically and next to whom Jan will be buried. She was a passionate dog lover—who knew? If I’d known, we could have talked dogs endlessly. She was active in her church, and had a huge circle of friends—I knew that from the Facebook expressions of regret when she died. A learning lesson for me—get to know people outside the roles in which you originally meet them. Know the whole person, not just the writer or historian.

Jan never married, and the minister referred to her as a single woman a tad too often for my taste. He seemed to be saying that it was amazing that she accomplished all she did without the help of a man. Not amazing to me—maybe she did what she did because no man held her back. He initially said it was remarkable and difficult for a single woman to rise to prominence in the Church of Christ and that may be, but Jan did. And she rose to prominence in many other area. I have always disliked being defined by my single state, and I bet Jan did too.

I knew the Church of Christ did not use musical instruments in their worship, but I was unprepared for and pleasantly delighted by the robust and vigorous choir. The songs they sang were mostly unfamiliar to me, but they were upbeat, joyous and full. The one I knew was the recessional, “It Is Well.” A friend of mine, a church soloist, refers to singing people home when she is part of a memorial service, and I felt that was what we did today. We sang Jan home.


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