This evening, my mother in law, great friend and fellow traveler Jan Crane Barley left this place for her next adventure. Earlier this year, she was given three to six months to live. She lived eight, and got as much out of every day, as she did throughout her life. She was also giving all of us more time to prepare for living without her. While I and others will never be the same, we are greateful for every day that she spent with us. She spent 85 years on this earth, an adventure of more than a lifetime. The fact that so many, include myself, only wish that she could have more, fills volumes of books that Jan herself spent her entire life writing.
She was born in 1934, in the middle of the Great Depression. She was the oldest of three children. When her beloved mother died in 1947, she was forced to live with other relatives. She began writing articles and other pieces throughout high school and college. She wrote for various newspapers throughout Ohio. Always restless, she enlisted in the United States Air Force, and began astronaut training. In the middle of training, she met and married Morris Barley. She was set to go twice the speed of sound when she discovered that she was pregnant. Later, she became the first enlisted officer to give birth at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, to the woman that would later become my wife.
She and Morris would eventually be married for 60 years, and raise two children. Jan continued to write for a host of clients. Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and many more. She began to travel the world, places she came to love as much as Ohio. She published her first book in 1996, on children’s authors in Australia and New Zealand. She became a trusted mom, aunt, grandmom, mother-in-law, friend, book club member, Burns Night organizer, and so, so much more. She was family, no matter how you came to know her.
I came into her family in 2000. I have since acknowledged that being an independent videographer that really wanted to be a music photographer doesn’t always inspire confidence in potential in-laws. But in Jan I found a friend, champion, and fellow writer that understood the quirks and inspirations of the craft. When Jan told me that she had always wished that she could have pubished a book of her travel journeys to England and Scotland, I offered to publish it through Fort Canoga Press. I believed that the book should exist, and the story should be told. She encouraged me to keep going through all of my adventures, and I was more than proud to be part of her story, which will continue on from this day. And I am so lucky that she was, and will always be part of mine.
Some of you will know that I often travel with a blue therapiggy, named Blinker. My wife began making these seven years ago, and I love being able to take something she created all over the world. But it is for Jan that Blinker’s outgoing persinality emerged. Emails, phone messages and Skype conversations. Blinker loved to share with Jan all of the things I loved. Music from Vashti Bunyan, or Rudy Vallee. Photos from recent travels, or new perspectives on life. Blinker just loved being a happy child with Jan, and sharing his life with her. And perhaps, I did, too.
As of this moment, Jan, you belong to the ages. You are free. Freed from the pain of the past, and recent days. All of those places you loved, you are there now. At the 1939 World’s Fair that you so much wanted to attend. Broadway, and all of those quiet places in your beloved England and Scotland. Every place that inspired you, and gave you joy. You are there. With road dust on your boots, smiling as you explore the road without end. And while those of us back here will always miss you, please know that you will always be with us, in the sky that surrounds those that will continue to love you, and the memories that will continually fill our future.
You are here, you are everywhere.
I love you, Jan.
September 15, 2019