Hibiscus photo courtesy of Robert Mepham
My cousin Jan passed away in the early morning hours on Sunday, August 31, 2014. Her sister Pati was by her side. In the ten plus years since Jan was diagnosed with a very rare form of neuroendicrine carcinoid cancer Jan has been a source of strength and guidance for many newly diagnosed cancer patients and has started support groups in Los Angeles (Glendale to South Bay) and down the coast to north county San Diego. She has given countless hours of advice to fellow cancer patients and their families and been a cheerleader to raise funds and awareness for this rare form of cancer. Her sister sent this email to the family:
"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!"
And that is dying." (Henry Van Dyke)
This photo was taken August 23, 1981, on my wedding day. I am pictured with my siblings and my cousins. Jan is on the far right.
I chose this photo because it is how I best remember Jan. She was a rebel, a fiercely independent family member. When she was 18 her parents gifted her with a trip to Hawaii. She always proudly said "They gave me a trip to Hawaii for my high school graduation and I never came back." That was partially true. She made her life there for 20 years and returned to Southern California to take care of her mother after her father had passed away. Jan used her determination and strength to great advantage in her later years. After being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer she devoted the rest of her life to helping other cancer victims and their families. She always put others first, often to the detriment of her own well being but her heart was big and generous and filled with love for others. She had a winning smile and was a kind and loving member of our family.
It is of great consolation to know that Jan is no longer suffering and has joined so many of our family's loved ones in heaven.
Jan always kept the Hawaiian Islands and the aloha spirit inside her heart. This next photo represents her home life on the islands. She lived in almost this exact spot on the island of Oahu. I'm sure her spirit now soars over this lovely bit of paradise.
Your generous and most kind spirit lives on in our memories.
January 3, 1951 to August 31, 2014