Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This blog is dedicated to my (adopted) grandmother. She is the first person close to me to have died of cancer. I knew her for a short time, so I asked my dad and his brothers to send me their memories of her.

I first met Jane in my teens. My mother remarried in February of 2007 and I suddenly had a new family. I didn't know my biological father that well and had never really been apart of his family, so this was something new. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, especially my new stepgrandparents, Bill and Jane Walker. They did everything they could to make me feel apart of the family. My memories of Jane include her loving personality, her intelligence, and the level of respect she had from her husband and children. Her death was sudden and had a huge impact on everyone that knew her. There is a picture in my parent's house of Jane in her wedding dress. She was very beautiful when she was young and she carried that beauty with her until her death. My dad used to always make a joke about how there were 4 boys, so Jane would make dinner, put it on the table, and everyone had to fend for themselves. If you missed out on the food, too bad. I love that story, although, I kind of think it's not true :)

I struggle with what to call Jane because she was my stepgrandmother, then my stepfather adopted me so she became my grandmother but out of respect for the rest of the family who spent their entire lives with her, I wanted to clarify. I only knew her for a handful of years, so I don't have the ability to relay everything that needs to be said about her. I do know that she made me feel as though I had been her granddaughter my entire life.

Below is my father's account of Jane's life. I made some grammatical changes to make it flow easier but this is pretty much all my dad's writing. He called his parents Jane and Bill.

"Jane was born in China Grove, NC. She moved to Spartanburg and then Greenville, SC as a child. She attended Greenville High School where she met my father, Bill Senior. Jane was the love of Bill's life and they moved to Biloxi, MS while Bill was enlisted with the Air Force. Their life in Biloxi was happy and they shared many eventful, happy times on a low Air Force salary. Jane was a hostess at an Italian restaurant while also caring for 2 sons. After Bill's service ended, they relocated back to Greenville where Jane had 2 more boys. Bill traveled extensively so Jane had to make many decisions by herself. She tried to instill a strong sense of self esteem in all of us as well as a knowledge of the difference between right and wrong. My parents lead by example, and the whippings were influential as well. They gave us confidence and a solid base of values. They allowed us to make our own decisions, let us succeed on our own and learn from our failures. I am most grateful for this.

As a mother, Jane always listened to our hopes and dreams and showed us love through positive praise. She was an excellent cook and we always ate together as a family. The only time we got to choose what was for dinner was on our birthdays and we were always expected to clean our plate. Every Christmas, Jane and Bill would buy all 4 sons a Christmas ornament with I, II, III, IV, indicating which number son we were. These ornaments were brought back from different countries that Bill visited for business. Jane would sometimes accompany him on these travels and their visits included Venezuela, England, Spain, Canada, China, and Mexico. When they couldn't afford to buy an ornament, Jane would make them herself using scraps of cloth, glitter and paint. As each son left to become an adult, she would give them their ornaments to decorate his own family tree.

In addition to collecting Christmas ornaments, she also collected ceramic tile from her travels. She loved to cook and she had a green thumb. Our house had many plants, a lawn full of special flowering shrubs, and a vegetable garden. She loved the beach and cherished family and friends. She would ride the waves with all of us and prepare fresh seafood at night. She would have her sister come visit from California and they would reminisce about their childhood. She was active in her church, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and helped with crafts for Church fundraisers. She encouraged our love of the arts and would buy painting supplies so that we could create our own paintings."

I had Bill ask my uncles for their memories as well. I have included those below:

Uncle Phillip: "Jane lived a life with an air of serenity and was genuine to the core. She influenced me to value the beauty of simplicity and look at life with a laugh."

I know that the others are going to be sending their comments so I will update the post when I receive them.

Jane was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died 7 weeks later. She thought she had bronchitus but her symptoms were a result of the cancer spreading throughout her body. Ovarian cancer is a difficult cancer because it is difficult to detect and once one begins to experience symptoms, it is typically too late.

Jane was a special lady and she is the main reason that I decided to raise money for this run. I hope that her story can help others in some way. I also hope that the reader can feel the impact she had on many people's lives.