Two days ago would have been my Aunt Janis’ 73rd birthday. Unbelievably, she’s been gone for over 20 years now, leaving us far too early. She was a big part of my childhood; I have missed having her as part of my adulthood.
Janis was one of two children, both girls, of Howard and Bernice Kaufman. She was smart and curious and thoughtful. She majored in biology and became a lab technician; she never married or had children. Janis loved to learn and travel–I lost track of how many countries she visited, places exceedingly exotic to a young girl living in a small farm town in central Kansas. She even went to the Soviet Union in the mid-80’s, when that was unusual, before the fall of the Iron Curtain. My most memorable anecdote of that trip was her need to take along toilet paper. But my favorite of her trips was when she took my grandparents to Hawaii for their 40th anniversary. By their 50th, their health wouldn’t have allowed it.
Janis was a kind, gentle, and generous spirit. I remember well a number of the gifts she gave me over the years, as they were unique and unbelievably thoughtful. I doubt any of the gifts I’ve given over the years have been as memorable. It was terribly unfair to lose her so early. In the years since, I have often thought of her at family events which she would have enjoyed. She would have taken great delight in her great nieces and nephews. I have missed visiting with her; she always had an interesting and informed opinion. At the end, the hospital nurses told my mother that she was their favorite patient. She was special. Happy birthday Janis, you are missed.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” –Dr. Seuss