Sometimes in an ordinary life, you are blessed with EXTRAORDINARY people to walk the road alongside you. This is definitely the case in my life. This year I am paying tribute to fifty women who have made an impact on my life. Another one of these extraordinary women in my life is Janet Combe and I’m blessed to get to call her my bonus mom.
When my dad called to tell me he was marrying Jan and they were coming up for a visit to Portland, I wasn’t sure what to think…..I had never met her. Jan had grown up in the same neighborhood as my dad and their families had been friends. It seems that my dad’s mom (Granny) and Jan’s mom had been doing some behind the scenes matchmaking and now I would be meeting my dad’s new wife for the first time. Well!! It was easy!! I instantly fell in love with her. She was so kind, so gracious and she adored my dad. My dad and Jan had gotten married just a few years after I had gotten married. So it was fun to see them in newlywed mode.
Jan is the most thoughtful person. I remember that on almost every holiday I would receive a care package from dad and Jan (really I know it was from Jan). There would be cute decorations for my house in the theme of whatever holiday it was and treats. Her decorations soon became a traditional ceremony of mine. I would remove the “daily” decor and put up the holiday celebration decor with the appropriate holiday music playing in the background. This tradition still continues in my home and I still have many of the decorations she gifted me almost 20 years ago.
I have also carried this tradition on with my kids. When I left Portland to move to Utah, I promised my kids they would feel my love even when I wasn’t there for them every day. I spent time in meditation reaching out to their hearts and surrounding them with my mama love. I also made sure they received a care package almost every month just like my Mama Jan had taught me. This beautiful way to share my love was introduced to me by this sweet woman, so many years before I would need it to show up for my boys even hundreds of miles away. I’m forever grateful for her thoughtfulness in my first years of marriage, this lovely tradition was able to continue with my own children.
Jan is a wonderful sister and friend. When we get together and catch up, she tells me how her sisters and her mom are doing. I love how much they all care about each other and get together so often. They are a great little family and they are all so welcoming to me when we all get together. Whenever I see pictures of Jan on Facebook, she always has her arm around a friend. She is so easy going and I’m sure her friends adore how fun she is to be around.
Jan is such a good sport and is always up for an adventure. One time when she and my dad had taken my boys for an adventure for the afternoon, they took the ski lift to the top of a mountain…. I’m thinking Brighton or Solitude…. One of those. The ski season had closed and dad convinced them all that it would be a fabulous spring hike down. Little did they know they’d be in snow most of the hike. They did get to spot a moose though and add a few other animals to their “critter list”. When dad was telling me what happened, Jan just laughed about it, she was always such a good sport to go along with my dad’s wild ideas to go hike EVERYWHERE and WHEREVER! Jan also worked for Delta and she would use her benefits for her and my dad to fly to Portland and visit us almost once a month. What a generous gift she is to my life!!!
Janet is also a saint! Truly. My dad is a fun guy but he is not always fun to live with on a daily basis. I know that I struggled living with him when I was in my early twenties. Even spending a week on vacation with him was sometimes a difficult thing for me but Janet was married to him for twenty years. I know it could not have been easy at times for her but she took such good care of him.
A few years before my dad died he went to the doctor. The doctor put him on a strict diet and gave him some instructions to improve his quality of life. My dad shared this with me at one of our weekly luncheons. Then in almost the same breath, he complained about the new healthy dinners that Jan was making him eat. Thank you dearest Mama Jan for making those healthy dinners although I’m sure he complained about it ALL-THE-TIME…. I know that she gave me several more years with my dad just because of the beautiful care she provided to him.
After my dad went to the “Happy Hunting Grounds” as he liked to call it when he was alive. I wasn’t sure if my relationship with Jan would continue. For whatever reasons my dad had, he liked to keep his relationships separate so while he and I would go to lunch often, I didn’t have the opportunity to grow my relationship with Jan much in those years. How lucky am I that not only has our relationship continued but it has been able to grow. She continues to show up for me as well as my kiddos and she has made it clear that she is still my bonus mama and my kiddos nana. And what a wonderful Nana she is. I know we will all continue to grow closer as the years continue.
A funny story that happened last year. I was at the Home Depot up by Jan’s house. I was picking out some flowers for her to take over to her for Mother’s day when Jan suddenly appeared at the same Home Depot. We laughed and laughed and then I let her pick out her own flowers. After that we went and hung out in line to get into the liquor store together so we could celebrate Mother’s Day with a toast to each other!
Jan continues to make delicious chili sauce, chocolate chip zucchini bread and other fantastic homemade treats to share with us just like she did when she first became my dad’s wife. Over the twenty years she has become more than just my dad’s wife, she has become my kids Nana and she has become my bonus mom. I love spending time with her whenever we get a chance. She has made a fabulous impact on my life and because of her…. I have been changed for good!