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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gray Matter: A  special friend -- a special memory

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Yes I know, I'm repeating myself, but once again I must insist there are just not many advantages to this aging business. So when I discover one,  I am most eager to share it. 

As I'm slowing down,  I find I have a bit more time to recall fond memories and  remember the friends who were a part of them. That particular advantage led me to thinking  of a very special friend named Janice. Unfortunately, a malignancy struck swiftly and fatally nearly two years ago.  Our friend, taken from this world at only 62, is still terribly missed and fondly remembered.              

This story began one fall when I was having difficulty finding someone, preferably a high school girl, to help us out after the birth of one of our younger boys. I knew this girl only by sight --  a very attractive, VERY blond little gal who was usually surrounded by a gaggle of male admirers. In one of my all-time greatest errors of judgment,  I had labeled her a bit of a "hussy" as only such would  bleach her hair so shamelessly in that long-ago day. When she came to our door one evening, I was reluctant, but desperate, so I agreed for her to come the following  Saturday for a trial run. She came promptly at nine and by noon we all loved her -- a love that still lasts in memory. Her ash-blonde tresses, by the way, resulted from her Danish heritage, not a bottle of peroxide as I had so mistakenly concluded.

Following high school, our friend went to work in Sioux City where she met and married Dick,  a construction engineer in business with his father.  By that time, in those pre-laundromat days, our eldest was attending Morningside. He met Jan in the post office one day while mailing his dirty things home. She immediately insisted his mother was much too busy for that. This resulted in  as one-sided a deal as has ever been made. By that time, wee Dana had joined the family. So the arrangement was for my son to baby-sit, in exchange for the shirt laundry. His things were regularly and beautifully laundered. Baby-sitting, though, took place infrequently and most times, the wee one was fast asleep before her parents left the house. The sitter had a lovely quiet place to study in a kitchen where the "fridge" was stashed with milk and sodas and the cookie jar was never empty. Some deal !

Dick had learned to fly in the Air Guard and, next to Jannie,  flying was the love of his life. A few years later, after the death of his father, he sold the business and  turned to his real career choice. Dick became a pilot for Braniff, flying out of their Dallas headquarters. In time, our next- to- youngest son transferred from a midwest college to Baylor University at Waco, Texas. On his first holiday, he drove to Dallas, parked his car in D/FW facilities, and flew home. When he returned, he discovered to his (and his parents') dismay that the parking fee was astronomical. Janice, hearing of the situation,  made it abundantly clear that, from then on, he was to park his car at their place in Irving and she would ferry him to and from D/FW. She did just that for him, as well as for his younger brother, through all their years at Baylor. Just another of the many  kindnesses we were ever receiving from her.

In time, Braniff, went bankrupt and Pilot Dick was hired by Piedmont, headquartered in North Carolina's  "Golden Triangle". Their move to Kernersville brought about wonderful visits to that beautiful and historic part of the world.  Perhaps we can go into that another time. I'm also certain that Dick's histrionics, both in the air and onstage at the Kernersville Little Theater, would make a great Gray Matter topic.

For now, though, I want to advise you to enjoy, to the fullest, the people and experiences you  encounter  along the way.  In time, you'll be rewarded with great memories to savor and re-live -- truly one of those advantages of growing old which, I still insist, are all too rare.