I am Anne Williams Cadle. My mother is Carol Tatum Williams. Jane was my great aunt – however she was really more like a grandmother.
Thank you for indulging me as I share some of my memories of Jane.
Jane loved Erma Bombeck. She continued to re-read her books even after Emra died in 1996. In many ways Jane and Emra were quite alike. Which is probably why Jane admired her. Both were quick witted, funny and faithful and chose to find joy and humor in life’s mundane.
There is a quote by Erma Bombeck that reminds me of Jane. When I knew I would speak to you today, this quote came to mind immediately and I knew I had to include it.
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'.
That’s what Jane did. When she left this world last Sunday, I don’t think she had any talent left in her.
Jane married Tommy is 1947 and together they raised two children and lived all over the world including Germany and the Philippines.
I loved to hear stories of their adventures, but my favorite stories she would tell were from the war years. As a child and young woman, her family spent a lot of time in the Fort Walton Beach area. Eglin Air Force base was a primary place where pilots were trained.
She mentioned being astounded at the sheer numbers of young men who served there. And as a girl in her early 20’s – visiting a town full of handsome young pilots was never was sacrifice she was willing to make.
I wish I could remember the all the details of this story. If you do, please share them with me later. One August they headed to the beach for a few days. There had not been any significant rain for weeks. Something was wrong with their car, the roads or probably both, but they could not return home to Tuscaloosa until it rained. So Jane was forced to stay around the hundreds and hundreds of young men. She was a giver!
I told that story to tell you this one. Most of my greatest childhood memories were set at Jane & Tommy’s condo in Fort Walton. Sometimes they would come, other times our family would stay there. On occasion, we would get several condos and all go together. As a teenager, after dark, me and whatever friend I had with me would go to the boardwalk and hang out. By hang out I mean look for boys. Then we would walk of on the beach and look for seashells. By seashells I mean boys.
One time went to Fort Walton after David and I were married and Laura had a friend with her. I asked Laura and her friend if they were going to the board walk. Laura, (her granddaughter) not being as boy crazy as I was, said probably not. And there wasn’t anyone down there anyway.
“Oh, I remarked. When I would go, all the boys would be there!” Jane interrupted, “No sugar,” she said. “I was there when ALL the boys were there!”
When my brother and I were little, Jane and Tommy would take us each to the condo for a week by ourselves. She said they couldn’t handle both of us. That was fine with me because I didn’t want to be with my brother anyway. My favorite part of these trips was going on what I called, a “midnight swim.” After dark we’d go to the pool and I would swim, usually while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the top of my lungs. Jane would sit there and laugh at me.
Some years later I asked her what time we actually went swimming. Turns out, it was about 8:30.
Although not one to keep up with pop culture, TV or music really, she was surprisingly hip! One night I was on the phone with her and she was surprisingly distracted, which is not like Jane at all. Finally, she said, “Sugar, do you watch the Idols? There are a couple from Alabama.” And I'm thinking - I was watching it too! So yes! Jane was a fan of American Idol – at least if contestants were from Alabama. Although I don’t know if she ever voted.
Jane was a competent, even a good cook like any mother and grandmother would be. But you would not call her a gourmet. My mother would often share recipes with her and I would too on occasion. When you’d ask her how they turned out, she would always say, “It turned out fine. I used cream of mushroom soup.” And I would say something like, Oh, OK. So you were able to make that work with quiche.”
Jane was one of the most genuinely sincere people I have ever known. She was universally adored — whether you were her friend, hair stylist or the checker at the grocery store you Jane made you feel important when you spoke to her — for three reasons, she was always happy; she treated everyone as if they were the most special person in her life; she carried herself with class and dignity. I made a joke about her cooking, but if you want to be widely loved, she had the perfect recipe.
Jane’s incredible and beautiful faith guided her through her life. She took real joy in studying the Bible and reading scholarly accounts. In her later years, she found a special friend and companion in Richard Rose. I think it was their mutual love of studying the Word that brought them together.
Jane truly had the spiritual gift of prayer. She’s prayed me through many many things! Once not long ago, my mother was going through an especially trying time and she asked Jane to pray for her. She did. The next day she called and told my mother a scripture to read. She said, “I don’t remember that off the top of my head and haven’t had a chance to re-read. But I prayed, that’s what I got.” We read the scripture and it was almost an exact account of what was happening at that time.
I could go on and on and tell you about the unique gifts she gave, our Christmases we spent at our house in Enterprise, about how she almost sort of knew Harper Lee, about how much she loved her grandchildren and my children and my brother’s children, her spaghetti sauce with peas in it, their series of dogs named Corkie, and how I got married on their 50th wedding anniversary for luck – but we would be here all day. So I’ll wrap up.
When we think about going to heaven, we think of hearing the verse, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If you’re me some days you’re just hoping for an exasperating “WELL, an eye roll from God and then “Get in here before I change my mind.”
I don’t believe that’s how Jane was received. She received a “well done!” But then there was a fanfare composed in her honor, a choir, ringing of bells, releasing of doves, fireworks and a 21 gun salute. And I can’t wait to get there so she can tell me all about it.