“When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little – but not too long
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that we once shared;
Miss me – but let me go.
For this journey we all must take, each must go alone;
It’s all part of the Master’s plan.
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick of heart, go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrow. In doing good deeds, miss me – but let me go.
– Author Unknown
On July 19, 2008 at 6:04 p.m., I lost my mother-in-law, Jan Van Horne, to cancer. After a year-long valiant battle with the horrible disease, she took her last breath. She was surrounded by her loved ones, her family and beloved friends who came from all over to say their final goodbyes. While I promised a blog on the next round of CEO blog series, I wanted to dedicate this blog to this exceptional woman who showed me what it meant to be a great human being. Needless to say, this whole experience brought a lot of things into perspective on life, family, friends, strangers, and career.
A little bit about Jan. She was born May 30, 1945, to Rose & Bill Robertson. She was their only child. She grew up in Elizabeth, NJ. She later moved to Boston to attend University of Massachusetts, where she met Dave Van Horne (the love of her life) during a college trip with some friends. They fell instantly in love; they were inseparable since their first encounter. Their story is an all American love story – where they were the best of friends and best of lovers. Envied by many and loved by all, they embodied true spirit, kindness, generosity, and true love of life, friends and family.
Jan was not only a great wife and daughter, she was a wonderful and exceptional grandmother to Tiffany (age 27), Chelsea (age 23), Morgan (age 9), Aizik (age 5), Thomys (age 5) and Braden (age 5 months). Jan and Dave went to lengths to provide a great life for their grandchildren and continually demonstrated what it meant to be loved. Further, she was a superwoman who balanced work and family as well as friends (never ignoring one for another). Having built her empire as a real estate broker, she gave new meaning to ‘working mother’.
Outside of family, Jan and Dave had many great friends who laughed and cried together, celebrated life together, traveled together, and raised their children together, sharing the memories of past and plans for the future. She was an extraordinary woman who exemplified ethics, honesty, humanity, kindness, and generosity. She showed me what it meant to be a great human being, going to great lengths to embrace adversity, courage, and all aspects of life. She taught me what it was to be a great mother, always putting family first and making every occasion memorable. She also taught me that you can do great things in life no matter where you came from. It was about the heart and how you carried your heart in everything you did for those you loved.
She took courage to new heights after being diagnosed with cancer in 2008 – never giving up, extending the very life and spirit as well as her body to live on, be present to love her family, and see her children and friends through their journeys. Courageous and determined as she was, she added color to everywhere she went and everything she touched – she is someone we cannot live without and her memory will forever be etched in ours. She is a reminder to us all that life is precious, family is king, and friends are queens because she treated everyone (from her friends to strangers) with great dignity, kindness, and love. She was the perfect woman which reminds me of a quote by William Wordsworth.
A Perfect Woman
A perfect Woman, nobly plann’d,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.
Watching Jan and Dave over the course of four years has taught me a great deal about true love, respect, marriage, family, and humanity. I came to understand what made my husband such a great man, father, husband, friend, and brother, and that is what made me fall head over heels for him. I can see my life with Scott and growing old with him…just as Jan and Dave stood together through thick and thin, loving one another without ever failing.
We will continue to grieve the loss of such a wonderful woman and we will miss her dearly. I will be forever grateful and am honored to have had the privilege of being a part in her life.
In closing, this is the poem that I wrote for my dad when he passed away and I thought it was only appropriate to attribute this poem to this great woman who touched us all and left an indelible mark.
Oh grateful one, grateful one, where are you going?
The day is long, it’s just begun, where are you going?
Oh mighty heart, mighty one, where are you running to?
Tears to laughter, frowns to smile, weakness to strength, the battle has just begun.
Oh peaceful one, peaceful one, always the one to fight the fight
dazzled by dreams with an unending might, there is so much to be done.
Oh beautiful one, beautiful one, always daring to dream
To dream to impossible dream, there are battles to be won.
Oh loved one, the loved one, please lie down and sleep.
Close your eyes, quit the fight, you mighty one.
Lie down in memories that we drew upon, sleepless nights are over, for you have truly won.