A Tribute to my Dear Friend Jane
Jane has been an integral part of our parish life for so long it is hard to imagine it without her. Together with John, she has been the soul of virtually every Church dinner (and Apple Festival) for the past two decades. As I look back through the photos of pancake suppers, pasta nights, St. Patrick’s Day extravaganzas, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, roast beef dinners and late-summer lobster bakes….. Jane is at the fore; spatula, ladle or a beer in hand, her radiant smile illuminates every shot she is in. She was truly in her element when she was feeding a crowd and surrounded by friends and family.
Jane gave unselfishly of her time and energy to our Parish, serving several terms on the Vestry and, of course, propelling our Apple Festival toward the successful fundraiser we have today. It was Jane’s idea to expand it into a weekend event, both to capitalize on the effort in setting it up, and to mitigate the effect of a rainy Saturday. Over the years, she (and John!) streamlined the apple pie-making sessions, so that each Summer we make more pies in less time. Her sense of commitment was always a rallying force when the hot, steamy nights of August were less than conducive to assembling pies. I shall be forever grateful for her recipes for perfect pastry and crumb topping. Her prize-winning Chili and vats of Clam Chowder were Apple Festival favorites. I just hope that we can faithfully replicate her recipes and do her proud!
Personally, I have deeply valued my friendship with Jane, which began almost 30 years ago as our children bumbled around together in the Church nursery. When the Church School burgeoned, I was so grateful when Jane signed up to help teach. She stepped up even though her Sundays off (from Benedicts) were limited. In recent years Jane and I have served together on the Vestry and I have truly appreciated her support in cultivating the parish gardens. I have been inspired by Jane’s tireless efforts to support our parish community in so many ways, and by her faith. Even though duty called at Benedicts (especially during the busy Spring and Summer months), Jane rarely missed a Sunday service. Many of us have benefited from her practical, no-nonsense approach to getting things done, and we have all witnessed her great kindness and her gift for fellowship. This is surely her legacy.
In the past year, as Jane has battled cancer and endless infections, she has done so with formidable courage. Her fortitude, in the face of a bleak prognosis, extreme pain and discomfort, has been nothing short of heroic. And I do mean heroic. Still, through it all, there have been moments of grace. Some fleeting, others truly memorable, as photos of 2019 will attest. Remember the July party attended by so many of Jane’s family and friends, and Jane’s last Roast Beef dinner in November? That Jane was feeling well enough to make the trip to Vermont for Georgia’s wedding last August was also a gift the Yourieff family will treasure always.
Though Jane ultimately lost her battle, she fought it with grace and bravery and on her own terms, literally to her last breath. Our hearts go out to John, Matt, Mark, Carolyn, Rob and Jane’s very dear friend, Tonie, who have been by Jane’s side constantly, and of course to Jane’s mother, Merna, and all Jane’s family and lifelong friends.
Like a great many others, I feel so blessed to have known Jane, and to share some wonderful times together. She has been a true leader within our Christ Church community. The ways in which we will miss her are countless. It’s so hard to think that when we are able to gather again, we will not see her smiling face. But I take comfort from knowing that while our beloved Jane is now with Jesus and all his Saints …..she is also not far away. As I re-read Canon Henry Scott Holland’s beautiful poem, two lines in particular speak to me as I think of Jane: “ Laugh as we always laughed …….play, smile, think of me, pray for me.” I know Jane would want us to do that.