Following is a collection of the wonderful tributes received at (or after) Jan's Celebration:

From Barb Lager, Class of '62B:

Thank-you Pete for asking me to speak on behalf of Jan’s nursing classmates, the class of 62-B.  There are eight of us here today and those not able to attend are with us in thought.

My friendship with Jan began long before training at the Royal Columbian Hospital.  We met at Kelvin Elementary School and graduated from Lester Pearson High in New Westminster.  Jan, myself and Myrna Nesbitt (Dambrowitz) spent many fun times in the local park.  Myrna lived across the street from Jan and would have been here today if were not visiting her son in Japan.  The three of us were also involved in C.G.I.T. Summer Camp at Ocean Park, Surrey holds good memories.  Classmate, Carol Gilchrist, was also with us in C.G.I.T.

Fast forward to September 1959 when Jan and I entered nurses training.  After the six month probie period, room mates were decided on.  It was a natural fit that Jan and I would room together.  During training not only did our uniform change to reflect our status, so did our residences.  We lived in four different buildings on the grounds of the hospital.  As new roommates, Jan and I move to Home 1, the class being split between Home 1 and Home 2. These homes were three story wooden structures circa 1910ish complete with silver fish in the bath tubs. 

As Jan and I never actually were on the same wards together during our rotation, most of what follows could be called “Hijinks”.  Our periods of ward duty were interspersed with blocks of formal lectures.  Jan and I knew we absolutely needed decent desks to study at.  After two or three trips to the Shop Easy in Sapperton, four wooden boxes, two pieces of plywood for tops and two lengths of fabric for skirts, we had what we thought were state of the art desks.  The project was way more fun than the actual studying.

Hijinks # 2 in Home 1 … “The Sunburn”

There was an established rule that stated “Any student missing days of duty due to sun burns shall make up such time at the end of her training”.  Jan having gotten a first degree burn to most of her body required a plan, as Mrs. Gartside, the nurse in charge of student health was due to make a visit.  With Jan on her bed, sheet pulled up under her chin and I sitting on my bed looking dutifully serious enter Mrs. Gartside.

 “Hello Mrs. Gartside.  Yes Jan had a terrible night.  She has just gotten to sleep and wouldn’t it be better to let her sleep?  Yes I’ll be sure to give her lots of fluids when she wakes.” Whew, dodged that bullet.

We moved into the next residence, McAllister, in our senior year.  Stucco outside, three stories, no silver fish in the bath tubs and really quite elegant.  Somehow, a few of the naughtier girls ended up on the ground floor which made sneaking in after hours very handy.  Jan and I, however, were on the second floor.  We spent hours lying on our beds with our legs propped up against the wall to drain pooled from our legs supposedly “warding” off varicose veins.  In senior year, Jan was the social convener on Student Council.  The poem written about her next to her grad picture in “The Lamp” was this:

Organizer of dances, parties, and fun-
Partaker of all fun that happens to come.
In Kitimat she’ll go to nurse or get a man?
An enthusiastic nurse—that’s our Jan.

Aye, I’m sure Pete’s glad she didn’t take the high road but rather the LOWER mainland road where she met him.

After grad our lives separated some what.  Jan went to nurse at the Burnaby General while I stayed at the Columbian.  When I visited at her apartment on Beach Ave., overlooking English Bay, I thought she had it made.  Roy and I married four years before Pete and Jan.  When she came to visit us in her brand new 1966 Mustang, I was up to my elbows in the diaper pail.

Eight years ago, when Jan was first diagnosed,  our friendship once again became tighter, this time via emails.  That’s when Jan coined the term Roomie which we used when signing off.  Spell check never did accept it but we never cared.

When we had our recent 50th class reunion in Naramata, Pete drove Jan over so we could be Roomies for one last time.  That Saturday night, back in our rooms and having a good old “girly chat” a thought struck me.  I said, “Jan, you have the most incredible cheek bones.” To which she replied,  “They are nice aren’t they!” That’s literally being comfortable in your own skin-and Jan was.

Jan had a lot of attributes.  The one that sticks out for me is courage.  This past year, class mate Elsie shared with me that not once did she hear Jan say, ”why me?”

Feb.5 of this year Pete emailed to say that the cancer had spread to the brain.  One night after that, while watching T.V. the phone rang and Pete’s name flashed on the screen.  My heart sank, expecting the worst.  But it was Jan calling.  We had a wonderful 15 min. conversation.  Then I heard Pete say, "I think Mom’s a wee bit tired now”.  We ended by expressing our love for each other.  Jan gave me the gift of her energy and her time when she knew her time was short.

I want to end by saying thank-you to classmates Elsie, Anita and Marlene.  You know the part you played in Jan’s journey.  But most of all thank-you to Pete for your amazing love and care for Jan.  You made her so happy.

I miss Jan but she visits me in the unexpected moments, mostly in my garden when a butterfly sails by, a bird sings, or the scent of my roses fills the air.  Thank-you for being my Roomie, Jan.

 

From Vicki Warren, Class of '62B:

It was a beautiful sunny day. Eight of us met for lunch at the White Spot-Elsie, Anita, Barb Lager, Sharon, Carol and Ron, Louise and Ken Wade, Steph and myself.

We were greeted at the door by Arlin, Heather's husband. Pete was so happy to welcome each of us and knew us by name. 

Jan and Pete were always a striking couple to meet. I never looked at Jan for beauty as her beauty to me was her lovely heart. Pete met Jan driving her very sporty hard top 1966 Mustang. He feel like a ton of bricks for her not the car. He always held Audrey Hepburn in high regard and there was Jan in all her beauty looking so like Audrey Hepburn. There was a picture of the two women looking so similar that Heather had incorporated into the slide show of her life along with pictures that Elsie and Barb had provided of our student nursing times. There were pictures of fishing times,travel times. family times, party times, her exquisite sewing products. Arlin has the most high end bathrobe. Another friend has one of the best pinnies (Scottish for apron) ever made- lots of pockets and the skirt waterproofed. Brilliant idea. 

The pictures at the one end of the room started when Jan was just a baby,a little girl with her parents and two brothers then on through out Jan and Pete's own wedding and the subsequent family years with Heather and Cameron who died early in his life. Pete has three sisters two of whom were there. Jan was well loved by his family. Lorna stayed with him after Jan's passing and did what sisters do best- helped Pete towards the path of healing. 

He was her loving supportive soul mate that Jan often said "I couldn't walk this path without Pete." I was most impressed by the time table that Pete setup online helping loving friends visit when Jan was able to visit. Jan never gave up. She visited Egypt in a weakened state but insisted on climbing to the top of mountain. 

Barb spoke on all our behalf sharing stories of their friendship which started in their school years. The birthing from crates and wood circled with fabric that became their study desk in Home 1. The dreaded sunburn and visit from Mrs. Gartside to assess Jan's condition. Barb had tucked her under an all encompassing sheet to hide the burn. She then offered the concerned statement that Jan had just fallen into an exhausted sleep and persuaded her (Mrs G) to allow Jan to sleep. No assessment was ever done...no extra time owed at the end of the year. Thank you Barb for the love laughter and caring for Jan that you articulated for each of us. 

I spoke with Ben and Nick-Heather and Arlin's sons age 14 and 8. These two little boys ran as a tribute to their Momma and raised over $1700 for cancer research. Ben told me he had lots of friends running but that he had run the fastest. They both read tributes to their "Momma" that spoke of many things -stories read together, porridge that was yummy. All of us were treated to Jan's fabulous Scottish shortbread and rock cakes. 

Heather ended the tribute to her Mom with what she called a word cloud describing her Mom-lovely, indomitable, considerate, mentor, compassionate, caring, determined....

She was all those and more. Audrey said of Jan in looking back over the years of our reunions "she always had the biggest smile of all of us".

Breadcrumbs

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