Mom weighed about 80 pounds, having been 160 when she went into the rehab facility. They almost killed her. I called my sister-in-law, hereafter referred to as my sister, and she said there was a retirement home on Bainbridge that they thought would make sense for Mom. After a number of days and details, we flew her First Class to Seattle. It was not without issues (to be discussed in another blob), but she seemed to settle in. We stayed for about a week and then it was time to say goodbye. Given her condition I never thought I’d see her again. We had a long goodbye, got back to Seattle, boarded the plane and I proceeded to cry and drink bloody Mary’s across the country. She lived there happily for five years, and I saw her any number of times. That kind of “saying goodbye” was OK, because it turned out to be short term — because it wasn’t really a Goodbye.
The other kind of Goodbye, not so much.
“Thanks, this is great.” I said pulling my things back together.
"Where are you staying?" Jane asked as she eyed my duffel.
“On 6th and East Capital.”
“Who do you know that lives there?” she asked.
Her stare was intense.
"I’m staying in my car,” I admitted, without a trace of expectation. "I'm looking for a … "
Jane didn't let me finish. “Are you nuts!? Do you not realize how dangerous that is? Iris, you cannot be that stupid!”
“Smart, smart, stupid,” I could hear the voice of my mother.
“You will stay right here with us until you find a place to live.” She turned around and yelled "Wes, Iris is going to say with us for a while.”
Without exaggerating, Jane saved my life.
I had no job, (although there was a letter from Rosalyn Carter asking me to come work for her), no place to live, and no money. The letter turned out to be irrelevant. It didn’t matter what Rosalyn wanted, White House Personnel was making the decisions and I wasn’t a priority. In those years I was driving back and forth from DC to Boston every weekend in a Fiat 500 station wagon. It served me well, but was hardly a nice house on Capital Hill. My wonderful life with Wes and Jane, and their daughter Laurin, lasted for about a year. Long after I got my job at the State Department, which Jane found in the Plum book. (It’s a list of all the jobs available for political appointees and includes ‘the plum’ jobs.)
After I left them I went to live on 4th Street NE, with a woman who I loved but was not easy.
At some point when I was whining to Jane about where i was living, she said, “Lets go for a walk on Dupont Circle, I love that area.”
There was an open house at a 100 year old greenstone on Q Street NW just off 17th st. The walls were painted brown so it felt like a cave. But Jane said, “We are buying this house. I’ll talk to Harold, it’s a great investment.”
I thought she was nuts, but I never argued with her. Jane and Harold each put in twice what I did to buy the place, but I managed the property and rented every available space. If it hadn’t been for Jane who knows what would have happened to me and to Seth, my son.
Last week Marthena called to say that Jane was in hospice care. Do you go into hospice for dementia? That’s what I thought Jane had. I called her daughter Laurin and it turns out she also had Ovarian Cancer. I got in my car and drove to Williamsburg because there were things I needed to say to my pal Jane. When I arrived and walked into her room, she lit up. She may not have remembered my name, but she knew just who I was, and asked me to tell her stories, which I always had done in the past. We spent an afternoon talking about the “the old days.” To tell the truth, I’m not sure if she remembered anything we talked about, but it didn't matter. We laughed and had a delighful time.
The next morning I went back to hospice to say my final Goodbye. When I arrived jane was sitting in the lobby with another woman.
“I have a long trip and I have get started.” I told her.
She looked at me and said, “but promise me we will stay connected no matter where we go.”
“Of course we will, we love each other,” I said.
“No matter what happens,” she said.
She stood up and hugged me for a long time.
“I”ll see you on the other side,” I said.
“…and we’ll tell more stories, won’t we?”
“Yes we will, my dear friend,” I said kissing her goodbye.
I walked out to my car and sat there for twenty minutes, and cried my eyes out.
All I could think was, ‘Yes, Jane, we will always stay connected.’
We’re just sayin’ …. Iris