"James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is William Stephenson."
Janie had two sons, and like some mothers, she felt that none of her sons' friends were "good enough" for them, and that included me. It wasn't until years later that I learned Janie had actually liked me, and she was sorry her son and I were no longer friends.
After my mother died, Janie embraced my daughter and me into the family fold. We were invited for Christmas, and on Christmas morning Janie and her husband opened a huge wooden crate full of bottles of Champagne -- a gift from the President of some European country -- I can't remember now which one. Janie's husband was on the Board of Directors of General Electric, and every year Janie received a new top-of-the-line refrigerator and stove, which I always admired. One year there was a knock at my door, and two delivery men were standing there with a stove. Janie had received her brand-new General Electric stove, and she sent me her "last year's" model.
Janie was an amazing cook, and we enjoyed many wonderful dinners in her beautiful dining room, surrounded by gorgeous antique furniture and silverware, and the best wine and port. My friend, who was rough around the edges most of the time, turned into a completely different person whenever he was in his mother's presence. He slipped very smoothly into his private-school "aristocratic" persona, his manners were impeccable, and he always referred to Janie as "Mother Dear" -- never "Mom".
It's strange, I have thought of Janie often over the years, even though I don't have the fondest memories of my friendship with her son. It was definitely not one of the most pleasant times in my life and I try not to remember it, but I was fascinated with Janie. In an odd way, she was one of the anchors in my life -- a touchstone as it were -- and I believe I learned something from her. Even though she had been blessed with beauty and wealth, her life sometimes was in turmoil because of something stupid her sons were doing -- or not doing -- even well into their adulthood. Janie knew how to be the steady center of the disorder and chaos. It was what she had been trained to do, and she was good at it.
I thought about Janie on Tuesday morning and I wondered how she was, and I hoped she was well. In the last couple of years I had thought about visiting her, but I just never got around to doing it. Yesterday I found out that Janie died -- on Tuesday morning. She just decided that it was time to go, and that was it. That's pretty much how Janie would do it -- no fuss, no muss -- just do it. But, what an amazing life she had. I'm glad I knew her.