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Jan's Story

UW Health Organ Procurement OrganizationJanice was born in 1939 in Appleton, Wisconsin. She had a very difficult childhood, which included family conflict, economic hardships and the loss of her mother when she was 15. Jan had to drop out of high school for a year and care for her two younger siblings. Jan also experienced a very challenging young adulthood which until age 32 included a difficult first marriage, and six subsequent years of solo parenting, hard work, economic obstacles and loneliness.

Nevertheless, despite the difficult problems she had to face and overcome, Jan grew up to be an outgoing, tolerant, creative, fun-loving, vibrant, caring, loving, personable, well-liked person all of her life.

With her second marriage, Jan's life changed dramatically, and for the next 30 years or so she was able to enjoy economic stability, a comfortable home, extensive travel, numerous cultural and educational experiences and overall, the time and means to enjoy her life-long love of people, pets, plants, shopping, swimming, music, dancing and writing poetry.

In the early 21st century, Jan began to show the early, but unfortunately initially unrecognized symptoms of fronto-temperal lobe dementia. In July 2003, she was diagnosed with advanced fronto-temperal lobe dementia. In July 2005, she entered an assisted living facility.

Throughout the progression of her illness, Jan’s positive personality traits "shone through" her dementia, and she remained a gentle, loveable person and a relative joy to her husband and caregivers right up to the time she suffered cardiac arrest in October 2006.

Unfortunately, despite being successfully resuscitated, Jan nonetheless suffered permanent oxygen deprivation brain damage as a result of her heart stoppage. But, in the culmination of a series of marvelous, seemingly even miraculous, sequential, coincidental, prerequisite "steps" during a three day stay in Intensive Care, Jan unforeseeably, and unexpectedly, became a kidney donor to two recipients after passing away.

Jan was working on the last poem of the many she wrote in life when her illness struck. That unfinished poem, titled "Going Home" later, after her passing, was edited somewhat by her husband. The completed poem follows. Jan intended the poem to be a celebration of her life, as seen through her own eyes. How proud she would have been (and now must be) that she was able to leave "the gift of life" behind when she went "Home," and that the two recipients of her gift would be able to add an unforeseen, final capstone stanza to her poem!

Going Home

What is a woman? She's a worker! A mother! A wife!
And, she'll give her heart, her love, and her life.

Sadly, she's often taken for granted, and thanks may be quite few.
And, as for her many tasks, she's never quite through.

Fortunately, though, the world is full of people who really do care.
And, their help, their comfort, and their love will always be there.

Nevertheless, Jan had some tough times on earth and she often asked why.
But, she also always prayed for help and her tears would eventually dry.

However, it's now time for Jan's soul to venture back home.
But, rejoice and don't mourn for her unfinished life poem.

For, beyond some battles in life she lost, there were many more she won!
And thus, she's earned a trip back to Alpha to be with God and his son.

So, open your arms, Lord, and put a smile on your face.
For, Jan will soon be back, and make you laugh, moved by your grace.

The Lord smiled and looked down from above.
He said, "Jan, you gave the world so much love!

You tried your best to do what was right,
And, you always tried to make other's lives bright.

Throughout your life, Jan, I watched you mature and grow.
And, it made me happy because I always loved you so.

So, once again, move toward the light, and send your spirit up here.
And, I'll open my arms, lovingly welcome you, and hold you quite near.

Your life on earth is now over, and your soul is again free.
It's over! You're home! You're where at last you should be!"