I met Jane Marie for the first time when I was 24 years old. It was a cold and icy December day. I had been delivered to the frozen wilds of Pennsylvania by a kindly man in a moving truck. He moved me from Illinois to Pennsylvania for $735 in 1984. We plowed through a treacherous ice storm, he had a diabetic seizure on the way and one small bout of vehicle trouble in Pittsburgh. But we made it to icy Williamsport, PA.
I can never forget meeting Jane the first time, we pulled up in the blue Volkswagen followed by the moving truck. The garage door opened (the garage was under the house) and there were Harry and Jane. She was wearing a silky housecoat over her work clothes and pearls. She was very put together and she said hello with that inflection that seems to be rooted in Pennsylvania, kind of a happy uptick at the end of words. Almost sounded like hiiiii, and the initial meeting was over.
There was a lot to accept with me, I was 4 months pregnant, and she had never met me or probably even heard of me before that day. She was gracious and welcomed me into her home. And so the adventure began.
The next morning as I was getting a glass of water she asked me what kind of nose I had. “the kind that holds up my glasses” I turned around and she said “I will pray for that nose” And she meant it. I didn’t have the close relationship with Jane that some had, but she has been part of my life for 36 years. She is my oldest daughter Abbey’s Grammy or Gram as she called her. She died last week and it left a hole in so many lives, including mine.
I am grateful for knowing her and thankful she knew her granddaughter so well, despite the circumstances of life that put us in Illinois and her in Pennsylvania. Jane was a godly woman, she prayed and she believed. She was a kind woman, she was an amazing cook, she was an outstanding Grammy.
Because of the kindness and the love of Jane and Harry, Abbey built a connection that transcended miles. She went to Pennsylvania every summer to spend time with her Dad’s family . Summers filled with cook outs, sleepovers, church, picnics, swimming, family and friends. I never worried when she was with Gram and Pap.
Only in the summer could she visit Knoebel’s Grove, eat sticky buns, ice cream from Soup-n-Scoop, attend Vacation Bible School. She learned so much from Gram we all did. She learned to love, to cook, to laugh, to pray.
The memories of Christmas, when her gifts would arrive, a stocking filled with 12 small presents , each one wrapped individually, one for each day and more presents on Christmas morning plus always, her own tin of Jane’s homemade Christmas cookies. Jane would make cookies for weeks and they would be either in the fridge or large Tupperware containers under the bed in the guest room. When people came over she would pull out her containers and make a plate to share.
Her cooking expertise was well know. The things that have always stuck out in mind are pickled eggs with Beets (took me a year to eat a purple egg, but love them now!), ham loaf (a meatloaf type meal with a red sweet sauce), scrapple, sticky buns ( from Country Cupboard in nearby Harrisburg), pork and sauerkraut on New Years Eve for luck (with a little ketchup added to cut out the bite!) and my personal favorite shrimp and shells. My darling daughter loved her Grams cooking so much, one year she came home with a recipe card she smuggled out of her kitchen. To this day we make Pizza Pasta salad and always think of Jane.
She was always there for Abbey, helping out when she needed braces, providing help to get her there, whether money, hotel or a plane ticket. She made the trip every year to spend time with her granddaughter. She planned the summer out long before she got there and the excitement would build as the day inched closer for both her and Abbey. They were peas of the same pod. Abbey carries so much of Jane in her. I thank her for always keeping her word and being there for Abbey. We could not have asked for a more supportive, loving Gram.
Now as Abbey makes this journey one more time to say good-bye to her beloved Gram, I am grateful she will be once again with her Pennsylvania family and friends.
RIP Jane Marie Weisel, are are loved, unconditionally.
May you Rest In Peace.