Jane To Me

Jane was
my mother-in-law
twice married
a lawyer of a generation before mine
when almost no women
went to law school

Jane was
not merely northern but
the antipode
southern woman

She loved telling stories
about herself
(She was mother to six children
stepmother to more
but her stories were her own)

She lived large
in her small farming community

Disorganized and usually disheveled
she was
not to put too fine a point on it
not a housekeeper
nor did she feel responsible
for organizing her lawyer husband

She was noisy and nosy
boisterous and brilliant
no Tarzan’s mate
But her tree-swinger

How strange to her
that nineteen year old unexpected
turned on, tuned in, dropped out
hippie with Southern young lady
(Southern Catholic young lady)

She taught me to ride
bareback, of course

She taught me to observe
not just watch

She taught me to examine
not just protest

She taught me to do more than survive
when her son left for greener pastures
(in the shape of my friend Sherri)

One day
long before internet made searches easy
she took me to a university
spent a day pouring over a tome
with me
her soon to be ex daughter-in-law
a book of scholarship possibilities
finding all I might qualify for
(My own parents having given up on me)

We found some
I applied
filled out the forms
huddled on a chair
using a barely cleared corner
of Jane’s disheveled desk
Jane watched
from her lawyer’s chair
ridiculously masculine to me
(Never mind my Gloria Steinem pretensions)
behind her lawyer’s desk

I got a scholarship
finished university
the rest, as they say
is history

But not Jane
two decades dead
Jane still lives
for me
never just history

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