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A Letter to Family and Friends

Image of Jeannette For some unknown reason, Jeannette, while in excellent health 26 years before her death at 87, composed this letter. It brought deep comfort to her family and friends at the time of her death. We invite you to share this moving letter; a gift to those she loved. You may wish to use this example for developing a similar letter to leave for those you love.

April 15, 1971

Dear Loved Ones, my family, and friends,

    I hope by now that some of the initial shock of my departure has begun to wear away and that the kind carpet of pleasant memories has started to unroll. My only sadness at contemplating this moment for you is that I know I shall go and leave much I hoped to do with you undone. I only ask one thing.
No sad tears for me, please.

    Every wonderful, delightful thrill, experience, and emotion life has to offer has been mine.
So, no sad tears, please.

    Rather, recall me with a fond smile as the wife, mother, grandmother, and friend who shared your laughter, tears, and dreams through the years ...

    Save your sadness and sorrow for those who leave before they find, see, feel, taste, touch and discover the precious pleasures of this world.
No sad tears for me, please.

    I've lived a goodly span of years — and enjoyed them all. Laughed a lot, cried a little . . . seen a thousand sunsets — played many a game of tennis as the dawn broke over the hills, courts, and rose gardens of Portland's Heights those years I spent giving anesthetics as a nurse in Portland and then on into the big adventure of my life as wife and mother. There have been walks in April rain — through fields of daisies in summer — shuffling through the fallen leaves of autumn — and Oh! the snows of winter!
So, no sad tears, please.

    I've loved a man, whose love I returned . . . I've cradled a daughter in my arms . . . and walked with the hands of young sons in my own . . . and then one day welcomed into my heart other sons, daughters, and grandchildren. What blessings each of you have been to me.
No sad tears for me, please.

    The memories of the years I turn over slowly — like the pages of a book. There were victories, and they gave life zest. There were defeats and sadness — they made me stronger. Many of them were vicarious — through family endeavors and we all grew. Perhaps the greatest adventure of all has been the spiritual search, which really began when you children were small. How blessed we have both been that Daddy and I could search together.
I cherish the peace and joy I have found in my faith and in the intuitive understandings of my Native American heritage.

    In growing up, I raced with many contemporaries and knew the thrill of achieving . . . the roar of the crowd was sweet. A second time we knew this thrill in the achievements of you children. And when age came, I was allowed to stand at the edge of the crowd and watch the young people dance the dance of living.
So, no sad tears for me, please.

    Life was good . . . I saw robins in the spring and once a flock of wax wings — gardens resting in winter and bursting into life in the spring — the palo verde trees a river of gold as they wandered the outline of the desert washes, a fraction of a year later the miracle of the smoke trees blooming a lavender flame — the amazing blues and rose and purples that flood the desert mountains in early mornings and evenings . . . long walks under harvest moons . . . and from the tops of high peaks looking down upon the flickering lights of cities and towns.
No sad tears for me, please.

    Think of those happy times: Christmases . . . the nights we slept out under the stars . . . gathering daisies, wild strawberries and wild cranberries . . . vacations when we traveled to far places . . . camping beside mountain streams . . . the books we read together . . . watching an ocean roll and gathering seashells . . .Thanksgiving dinners . . . the pets we loved . . . searching for and fascinated we found indications of our earlier civilizations. . . campfires . . . the ol' swimming holes . . . and most of all, remember the thousands of times we were all together as a family.
No sad tears, please.

    No one dies as long as there is one person left in the living world who remembers with fond recall . . . and shares a thought, though that person has gone ahead.

    Some day one of you may be looking thoughtfully at the vast Pacific Ocean, assessing its beauty and changing moods — you may feel a sudden, warm, soft breeze across your cheek — you will know that I am there . . .

    Or you might be standing on a mountain top, looking across a sweep of wooded foothills and valleys . . . and if there is a sudden, gentle stirring among the trees . . . feel I am sharing the moment with you.

    God walks upon the hills; I saw him in the flight
       Of wild geese winging south at morn and when the night
    Came running down the stairway of the trees,
        God called my heart to rest with whispering of leaves.

    On Christmas Eve, if there is a small star in the sky, look at it with love and let it come into your heart.
So, no sad tears for me, please, just remember me.

    A person really never dies while there are those on earth who loved that person . . . One is never gone as long as there are those who remember with fondness . . . and as long as memory evokes a wistful smile. All those who have loved, and who have been loved, have earned a piece of immortality . . .
No sad tears for me, please . . .

Lovingly,

Jeannette's signatre

  Jean (Jeanette),
              your wife,
                          your mother,
                                      your grandmother,
                                                  your friend

 


This photo is one of the last photos of Jeannette, a remarkable woman and mother.. She is standing with Phyllis. It was taken shortly before Jeannette's death, and to the family's surprise this photo appeared in the book, Jane Gentry: A Singer Among Singers, to which Jeannette had been a major contributor. The book was published shortly after Jeannette's death. Information on the book can be found on:
http://www.bettysmithballads.com

Following is another sample letter to loved ones. While still very much alive, Phyllis wrote this as an example for others to see how they might write their own letter to their family. You will note it was inspired by her Motherís letter.

Image of Jeannette


You are invited to use this letter as an example in developing
a similar letter to your family. While in good health,
my Mother shared her thoughts in a very helpful letter
to us. I am want to share my thoughts with you.

August 29, 2011

Dear Loved Ones — my family and friends,

Life began for me in an attic apartment above a one room school house in a tiny Eskimo village, north of the Arctic Circle. As a child I ran through meadows of daisies in the crispness of an Alaskan summer, and have been startled by bears while picking berries, (we saw 43 bears one summer). Before I knew where babies came from, I was the only person available to help a woman deliver her son. I've shuffled through the leaves of an East Coast autumn. And Oh! the snows of winter, so so beautiful, yet I still don't like to be cold.

I hope by now that the initial shock of my departure has begun to wear away... and that the kind carpet of pleasant memories has started to unroll. My only sadness at contemplating this moment is I know I will have left much I hoped to do for you and towards "lighter footprints" for all of us upon this earth. Yet, I will walk with you as you go on with the challenge and I only ask one thing.

No sad tears for me, please.


Every delightful thrill and emotion life has to offer that I chose to experience has been mine.

So, no sad tears for me, please.


Rather, recall me with a fond smile as the wife, mother, grandmother and friend who shared your laughter, tears and dreams through the years. Save your sorrow for those who leave before they find, see, feel and taste the precious pleasures and places of this world.

No sad tears for me, please.


I’ve enjoyed a full and rewarding life! I’ve laughed a lot, cried a bit... . I’ve seen a thousand sunsets yet my favorite is still sunrise beside my saddled horse at a fire with the smell of fresh coffee brewing. I've enjoyed friendships across the world as I've worked, taught and played in remote corners and cities of nearly 60 countries. I have gotten to know and love people in many cultures. I’ve found freedom and joy in years of starting colts, days in the saddle on a well-loved horse, cutting or penning cattle, and in the earth connection of checking on cows across the hills with a beloved dog at my side. I spent rewarding years teaching modeling and poise to awkward teens and watched them bloom into remarkable adults and leaders. Coming from the small towns of Bishop and Blythe, I overcame fear as the lone Anglo-appearing teacher in a Watts school, while the riots were still smoldering. The challenge awakend me. Joy and caring friendship let me be the “only white woman who ever came for a visit or a cup of tea” in the homes of my students. Then, still keeping in touch with my students, I went on into the wonder-filled adventure of my life as farm wife and mother.

So, no sad tears for me, please.


I've been blessed to love and be loved by a thoughtful, kind and gentle man, Bill. I've cradled Dawna, our daughter, and later her son Trevyn, in my arms. I've cherished Dylan, our son who died as an infant. He came to know our love, and then quickly moved on to another life experience. I've walked with the hand of our son Derek, in my own. One clear cloudless day I waved goodbye to him as the commercial airliner lifted into the sky, and we never saw him again. Looking back, it seems he had learned his life lessons early.

What blessings and joy each of you have given me!
No sad tears for me, please.


Memories of the years I turn over slowly, like the pages of a book. Somehow at each turn, life has led me to the outside edge of adventure. I've lived and walked safely in places the world calls wild or dangerous. There were victories, and they gave life zest. There were losses, deaths, and pain. They made me stronger as I deepened my love, compassion and persistence. Some of the joys were vicarious, or through family endeavors, and we all grew as we worked together. Perhaps my greatest adventure besides being a mother has been the spiritual journey that began with my Mother's clear example. I cherished the contentment and joy we found in the focus of simplicity and peace in our Quaker faith and in the intuitive understandings of our Native American heritage. I feel so blessed that Bill and I have shared beliefs and interests. We have worked as an extended family on the farm, as well in our concern for others here and across the world. Together and alone we have had the joy of touching and being touched by so many lives, such as seeing an orphanage of children who'd watched or held their parents as they died of AIDS be inspired to garden, learning the thrill of the life skill of growing their own food.

Having the challenge of learning disabilities has hindered me. Yet, Mother always helped me find success somewhere in each experience. The simple notebook that helped me survive and grow through Derek's death was published as Grief: Climb Toward Understanding and has opened doors for me to help so many others, in its five editions. I've known the thrills in the achievements of Dawna, Derek and then Trevyn. And when age came, I've stood at the edge or in the audience and watched the young people accomplish, sing, dance, perform, help others and lead on... .

So, no sad tears for me, please.


Life has been savory. I saw colts and calves frolicking at dusk, our garden resting in winter and bursting into life in the spring, our children and baby goats romping in the rocks, deer grazing, then springing across the fields, the breathtaking green of our Irish Hills and this quiet valley each spring. I walked in our orchard along the creek that becomes a torrent in winter storms then gentles in spring and trickles into swimming ponds in summer. I savored the symphony of wild flowers on hills that become waving fields of golden oats and barley. I loved being a "Trail Mom," to hundreds of hikers, feeding and helping them as I “accompanied” Bill on his long walks on the nearly 7,000 miles of trails across our country and the world, as I cooked and camped at trail heads or on passes, looking out on the flickering lights of a campfire, a home, a quaint French village, or even a city.

So, no sad tears for me, please.

Think of those happy times: Christmases, the nights we slept under the stars, family trips to far places and the privilege of visits into other cultures, camping beside mountain streams, gathering sweet peas, poppies, wild strawberries and blueberries, the books Mother, Dawna, Derek and Trevyn read to me, watching an ocean roll, hunting seashells, holding hands in grace or song at meals, Thanksgiving dinners, cookouts in the pine berm, feeding the homeless together, the pets we loved, finding indications of past civilizations, campfire stories, Trevyn's swing. Most of all, remember the thousands of times we were together as a family.

No sad tears for me, please.

No one dies as long as there is one person left in the world who remembers with fond recall... and shares a dream, a hope. Some day you may be looking thoughtfully at the vast Pacific Ocean, its beauty and changing moods. You may feel a soft warm breeze across your cheek. You will know I am there. Or you may be standing on a mountaintop, looking across a sweep of wooded foothills and valleys, and if there is a gentle stirring among the trees, know I am sharing the moment with you.

Over the Holidays, if there is a star on the windmill or even a small star in the sky, see it with love and let it come into your heart.

Remember, God has called my heart to rest with whispering of leaves, and the owl has called my name. So, no sad tears for me, please. Just remember me.


One is never gone as long as memory evokes a wistful smile. All those who have loved, and who have been loved, have earned a piece of immortality.

No sad tears for me, please.

Lovingly,



Phyllis Jean,

              your wife,
                          your mother,
                                      your grandmother,
                                                  your friend
.

 


Though she loved flowers,
Phyllis
asked that any memorial efforts on her behalf be sent to,
"so they will keep on growing and helping others,"
Groundswell International
1215 Kearney Street NE, Washington D.C. 20017
or
American Friends Service Committee or
Friends National Committee on Legislation
245 Second Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-5795