The Farmer's Wife: Remembering Jan with humor


I remember the first time I heard an officiant at a funeral refer to a funny side of the deceased. Some of his relatives were shocked! They just did not believe that a funeral was a time for levity. I, on the other hand, as you can imagine, found it wonderful!

After giving about a thousand talks on the power of Humor, I could not imagine why we would not want to employ it when eulogizing a loved one. And, goodness knows, our pastor had us chuckling several times in the course of the sermon for my friend, Jan.

We saw it first in the obituary, when it referenced the fact that Jan enjoyed a gin and tonic. I knew that about Jan, but had never shared one with her, so had no idea how to make one. I was having leg cramps at night and quinine is a known source of relief for that. We can no longer buy quinine over the counter, so I bought a large bottle of tonic water which contains quinine. I drank some and almost spit it out, it tastes so bad. Well, I thought, Jan drinks it with gin. I'll try that; ugh! Her daughter-in-law informed me it's an acquired taste and requires a lot of lime. I think I'll skip it.

Anyway, our pastor, who hails from Nashville, started by saying as one from the South where folks are not inclined to say what they really think, they often just reply, “well, bless your heart!”  (I've heard a good joke about what they really mean when they say that.) Nebraskans, on the other hand, usually will let you know where you stand, and he claims to appreciate that.

Therefore, when he first called on Jan in the facility she lived in while receiving cancer treatment, she told him she was glad he had come to visit because “she didn't know what she thought of him yet!” He informed her he did not know what he thought of her, either, so they needed to get to know each other. And he had plenty of opportunity for that, as she dealt with the cancer treatment, and then, this past long summer when she was in and out of the hospital and a rehab facility.  

And he came to appreciate Jan, too, for her steadfast faith as well as her sense of humor. As he told us, “Jan loved this congregation and this congregation loved Jan.” At one time, before the virus, several of the early risers in the Thursday AM Bible study group would fix a large jug of coffee and hand it out to the equally early rising parents delivering their little ones to our day care. They called it “coffee bar” and Jan loved getting to know those precious pre-schoolers and their parents. As with a lot of good things, the virus took that one fun day out of the week when a lot of moms greeted Jan and her buddies with smiles and warm regards!

Sometimes, Pastor Will would visit with our vicar, Pastor Dan, in tow. After they had been there, Jan would inform us she had a visit from “the boys”.  Well, when you are 84, as Jan and I are, they do seem like boys. Mature ones, but boys, just the same.  

Jan had only two grandchildren, and they were very precious to her. McKenzie played softball all through high school and in college, and Grandma Jan was often in the stands. Kyle played soccer, so she saw a lot of that, too. She stayed in contact with dear friends from Gibbon, where she graduated from high school, and with those in Columbus, where she lived for thirty-seven years before retiring to Lincoln.  

All in all, a life well lived, even though we who loved her feel it was too short. And we found plenty of things to smile at in our rememberances of her. Here's hoping you do the same for me! I will be trying to get Sts. Peter and Paul to laugh with me!!   


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