The Life of Jane Lamplighter aka Janey Warner Brown–A Celebration!

Mom’s Songs

My mother, Jane Lamplighter, nee: Janey Warner Brown, left us on Easter of 2022. (We told each other, Jesus rose up…and He took her with him!). She was 16 days short of her 89th birthday.

My mom did many things in her life, as you will see below, but one I do not mention in the below memorial is that she wrote songs. ( When I was younger, she was writing a musical about an exorcist whose family lived in a haunted house–where the house itself turned out to be a ghost. )

A few years ago, my mom had seven of the songs she wrote and sang regularly recorded, but due to various issues, some technical, some lockdown related, we did not get the songs back until a week after she departed this realm.

It was her hope that I would find a way to share her songs with the world. So, I have added photos and turned them into videos. Each video includes a credits that explain where the photos came from. Some are from Pixabay, a free photo site. Some are family photos. Many are taken by her granddaughter, Ping-Ping Wright.

For years, Mom sang the songs over every day when she drove the 45 minutes to and from work. Over time, she embellished them, so some have sound effects or a touch of humor.

Without further adieu, here are the seven songs my mother wrote that, in obedience with her wishes, I am sharing with the world.

The Cat Songs:

  Whispurr Child

Cat Lost, Then Found

Nature Loving Songs:

Midnight By the Ocean

Canoe Trip Beyond Time

Climate Challenge

Songs of Romance:

Rivers of Dark Fire or Shall I Wed You or Shall I Not?

The Demon Muddy, Murky From The Bay

This last song has long been my favorite. It is about a young woman who realizes that her lover is a kelpie. I think it may have been part of a longer musical. I faintly recall another version of this that was pure song with more story to it.


Videos with photos of Mom by my daughter (Jane’s granddaughter):

 Young Janey Warner Brown (through the 1990s.)

Jane Lamplighter — 1990s to April 17th, 2022

Jane Lamplighter — A Memorial

Above: Photo of my mother at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester County, New York

The Stone Cottage, built in 1850, where my grandmother and great-grandmother were born.

Childhood and family

Jan’es Parents – mygrandparents


Mom was born in Elgin, Illinois, a town founded by her great, great grandfather. Her family was devoted to education.

Florence May Warner (Brown)

Her mother, Florence May Warner, graduated from Vassar and earned a PHD in England in the 1920s, when it was very rare for a woman to do such a thing. After returning to America, she had worked at Sara Lawrence and then a New York City public school.

Walston Crocker Brown

Her father, Walston Crocker Brown, was the son of the mayor of Passaic, New Jersey. He was a troublemaker. There is a book called the Lawrenceville Files from which came a TV show and a move called, the Prodigious Hickey. Hickey, the crazy prankster character, is based on my grandfather. His father thought he needed some toughing up. At age 12-he was very tall for a 12 year old, his father threw him into a boxing ring. He got beaten up and determined, Never again! He began training, imitating the knights of old, and he eventually developed a method of moving that he used to train boxers and other athletes to help them win. He even developed a secret technique, the Cosmic Punch, which one can find references to in old newspapers. He is recorded as having been a professor at Yale, though my mom seemed to question whether he had actually taught there.

He spent years living in the wilds of Canada, sleeping outside even in 60 degree below weather. He found a gold mine, which he eventually sold. He was also an inventor who had a number of trademarks and copyrights.

They met on a blind date. They each went with a different person, and when he walked out on the balcony and saw her, he exclaimed: “Why there’s my wife!”

As they prepared to get married, they each had a secret they had not told the other person that they wanted to share. The secret was: they were both Christian Scientists.

For those who are unfamiliar, Christian Science came into existence when a woman was severely injured when slipping on ice and recovered from her deathbed by reading the Bible. She discovered that if she interpreted what Jesus said in the way that she did when she had this healing, she got the same results He got—and she discovered that she could teach other people this approach and they could heal, too.

Brief aside; When I have read books by Christians of other sects who have become spiritual healers—when they describe what they learned in order to pray and heal people, what they say often matches the Christian Science outlook.

Paraphrase from A Christmas Carol in the Muppet version: That one thing you must remember, or nothing that follows will seem wondrous.

I tell you this story about my grandparents and Christian Science, because this one thing you must know or Mom’s life will not make any sense.

Another picture of the Stone Cottage – built for our great-great-great-grandfather and where our great-grandmother and grandmother were born – as it looked in the 1850s

Mom was born in Elgin. She attended Engin’s 100 year Founders Day Celebration in 1935 –brochure mentions the family members of the Founder who were there, Mom is mentioned. She was 2. Her bother Wally, who is almost exactly a year younger than her, was also there, age 1. (I have always heard him called Wally, short for Walston, (but in the Founder’s Day write up and on some very early photos, he is called Warnie or Warner.)

Great-Grandfather’s house.

May be the house where Jane was born

The family moved to New York, first Jackson Heights, New York when Mom was around six years old and then Douglaston on Long Island in New York.

These two experiences from my mom’s childhood were on my blog, which meant that she approved them. The last one happened later but is related. I have a copy of it here in her own hand.

The Six-Year-Old Behind The Column:

  1. Jagi Lamplighter / November 8, 2007

Young Mom and Wally

When my mother was six years old, back in the late 1930s, her family went to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Back then, my mother was chubby, and her idol, the person at the circus she most wanted to see was the Fat Lady.

During the intermission, my mom went down to the side show to get a look at the Fat Lady. She snuck up behind a column and peeked around in fascination. As she was standing there, a man who was part of the audience that was streaming by called out: “I’d rather be dead than be you.”

My mom was mortified that anyone would treat her idol so poorly. Standing behind the column, she closed her eyes and began saying the Lord’s Prayer with all her might. She got as far as “Thy will be done!” and a great sense of peace came over here – as if she could feel God’s will being done.

Fast forward about thirty years to the late Sixties or early Seventies. My mom – who had lost her extra weight by age eight and had been slender as a rail ever since – was watching TV with my brother and I when we were young (a rare occurrence), and a show came on in which a handsome business woman was being interviewed about a book she had written. Turns out, it was the same woman, the one who had been the Fat Lady.

During the interview, the interviewer asked her what had turned her life around, what had made her go from being the Fat Lady to being thin and fit. The woman then described the same incident – that a man had called out from the audience that he’d rather be dead than be her. She said this had struck her and had lead to her eventually changing her life

Which just goes to show…you never know when there might have been a six year old praying behind a column.


Return of the Six Year Old

  1. Jagi Lamplighter / February 27, 2008

Young Mom and Wally sailing with their father and a friend

Some of you may remember the six-year old who hid behind a column and prayed for the fat lady at the circus. This was not my mom’s only encounter with the healing power of ‘Thy will be done’ at the age of six.

On another occasion her family was traveling on the subway. A bit down the car from them was a man who was obviously drunk. He was talking loudly and causing a disturbance.

My little mom, age six, closed her eyes and turned her thoughts to God, praying again: “Thy will be done!”

The man quieted down.

As they were leaving the train, the man walked up and shook hands with my grandfather. He said, “Thank you for what this little girl was thinking about me.”

That’s the part that always astonished me. On that crowded train, how did the man know who was praying for him? Nor is this the only time this happened. In Mom’s own words:

How did these men know who had prayed for them on a crowded train?

By Kimball, she means Edward Kimball, an early Christian Science practitioner*, lecturer, and teacher.

*–a person whose profession is to pray for others.

Mom in class


Mom used to bike to school. It was slightly downhill going there so she’d coast to school, and it was slightly downhill going back, so she’d coast home. One day, she realized that this made no sense. She climbed off her bike and put her face close to the road . People driving by called out “you okay dearie?” but she ignored them. Sure enough, the road was flat. After that, she was never able to coast to or from school again.

One day, the roads were covered with ice, and Mom skated to school. Of course, no one else could make it, and school was closed that day, but she had a good time.

There was a great pine next to her house. She could climb out a window and down the tree for midnight adventures. I so admired her for this when I was young, and I, too, wanted midnight adventures…but I always fell asleep and slept till morning and missed my chance.

Anyone who knows my mom knows that she loved cats. Love of cats is one of my mom’s defining traits. They loved her, too. Mom had all sorts of stories about befriending feral cats and cats no one else could approach. She had a number of cats. Some were named after demons, such as Mephisto. But the great cat love of Mom’s young life was Moonie Cat. Moonie cat lived at least 16 years. She had 99 kittens, mainly two at a time. Back then, Mom said, it was easy to find homes for kittens, so this was never a problem.

One time, though, Moonie Cat was in the yard with her kittens when a local pack of dogs that ran together descended upon the mother and babies. Mom could not get there in time, though she was running and shouting and, probably praying. She need not have worried. Moonie Cat calmly stood her ground and swatted the nose of the lead dog. He turned and went yelping off and all the rest of the pack followed, leaving the mother cat and kittens perfectly fine.

Wally and Mooniecat

Sailing – My grandfather used to take the family sailing for a week or so in the summer. Mom had a number of stories about trips that went wrong, including the time her father had to hold her mother to keep her from going back to get her purse when the ship caught fire.

My favorite sailing story was the time that Mom’s parents left the kids on the ship when they went to a ritzy party. It was Mom, her younger brother Wally, and her best friend Lindsey. I loved hearing stories about Lindsey when I was young, but this was my favorite.

Before leaving, her father put down the wrong anchor—can’t recall if it was a mud anchor on rock, or a roch anchor on mud. Either way, the sailboat with the kids on it began to drift out to sea. Somehow, in the midst of this, Lindsey fell overboard…but she managed to hold her toothbrush up, so it would not get wet.

When she was 12. Mom read a write-up of the Nuremberg Trials, I think in Life Magazine. Keep in mind that everything we know about the Nazis and their camps—no one knew that during the war. It all came out afterwards. Mom was so devastated by what she read that it cast a pallor over her life. She became depressed and spent hours praying, up to 3 hours a day, but to no avail.

When Mom was twelve was that she began talking to the ghost in their attic. Her parents were very surprised when she told them about it, because they knew that someone had committed suicide in that attic, but they had not told her. Mom prayed, and a sense of light came to her. The ghost never appeared again. She felt he had finally passed onto wherever he was meant to go.

This happened one other time. The neighbor next door when I was young reported seeing an American Indian woman wringing her hands. Mom prayed. I can’t recall for sure, but I think she said she saw the woman for a moment, smiling. Either way, the Indian woman never appeared again.

Mom and friends and her father and a horse.
I think that’s her on the horse)

High School

Somehow, and she told me recently, but I’ve forgotten, Mom ended up not being able to be in PE in high school—I think she got into another class scheduled at the same time, so for exercise, she ended up in a dance class. One that just put on music and let the students improvise. Mom used to do this with me, and I loved it. I tried it with my sons. They would’t do it, but…she had hours and hours of improvised dance.

This went hand in hand with the rhythm classes her father taught. He had invented a method of moving. He trained athletes and particularly boxers. He had a boxing technique called the Cosmic Punch. I’ve seen references to it in old news papers. So our family actually had a secret technique. Mom knew it and she shows Juss and I. Not sure I can do it, but I know the theory.

Anyway, he used to give rhythm classes where he had people move and imagine beautiful things, such as forests and waterfalls. Mom loved these classes.

I should mention, her father had been raised as an aristocrat. He believed gentlemen should not accept money. So he would not take money for many things that he did. His boxing students sometimes slipped money to his wife on the side.

Walston Crocker Brown, Mom’s father, as a child

He was an inventor and had a number of patents and copyrights, but he never really was able to do much with those, though I believe he sold a few inventions.

The family bills were paid by his wife, who taught school at a New York City public school. She was very happy to do this and to support his endeavors. They found a house which, back then, had 20 miles of forest he could walk in and think. To this day, there is some forest and swamp beside that house, because she and her friends in the area wrote letters and got the area declared Forever Wild. It was a beautiful area. First time I ever saw a raspberry growing wild was there.

Mom used to wake up when the train whistle blew in Great Neck, the next town over. This gave her about 20 minutes until the train would hit the Douglaston station, where she needed to get on. She would rush around, jumping into clothing, brushing teeth, grabbing a bite to eat, and run to the train station…which I recall walking to as a child, so it wasn’t too far…but it wasn’t just around the corner either. She would arrive often just after the train was starting up again, and the conductor would laugh, “there she is” and hold the train for her.

Mom and Wally

Just within the last six months, I believe, she mentioned this to her brother and was surprised to learn that he, too, had done the same thing. Leap out of bed with the train whistle, rush around, run to the train. Only he took a different route, coming down upon the train from above, I believe she said. So they never saw each other. All those years, both siblings assumed that the other rose earlier and arrived at the train station in a leisurely manner, and that only they were always running late.

Occasionally, she missed the train and had to walk to school, arriving a bit late, but she got there.

Mom, Wally, and Mooniecat

She wrote plays in high school. Some of them are on the table over there. My favorite story by her wasn’t a play, it was a story called something like The Witchcraft. It was about a girl daydreaming on a boat called the Witchcraft and the letters coming to life as people. She drew people shaped like letters. My favorite was Baby I, who’s head hovered over his neck. When I wrote my Prospero’s Children series, I named Miranda’s boat The Witchcraft. Mom advised me on the sailing parts.

But she also wrote plays and they were performed by her high school. She was a bit shy, however, so when they called Author, Author, one of her friends would run out and take the bow before she got up the courage to go out there.

She also edited the school paper or magazine, I forget, and won an award for that—for her reporting and her editing of the magazine.



She went to Principia College, a college affiliated with the Christian Science Church. It was while she was here that her sense of gloom from the Nuremberg Trial articles lifted. She saw so many truly happy people, it lifted her thoughts and her spirits.

Principia with the chapel looking over the bluffs of the Mississippi.

In high school, the school only took off 5% for her bad spelling. The rules were different out in Illinois. They took off points for each badly spelled word. So—despite her great success she had to drop out of creative writing.

I think this upset her because she stopped writing essays. So, as the school year came to an end, she had not done a single one. She had five essays due all at once that had to be done by the end of the week or she would be expelled.

A dorm at Principia

She called her mother who urged her to talk to a Christian Science practitioner—someone who prays for other people for a living. She did. Then despite the looming deadline, she spent a whole day, curled up in her bed, under her covers, praying. She prayed really, really hard—I wish she was around to remind me what exactly she prayed about. She told me recently. I think she said she wanted a sense of where ideas came from or something like that.

Anyway, she prayed until a great sense of light came to her. She said that she suddenly realized that the same Intelligence that gave the ideas for assigning the essays had the ideas for writing them.

She got out of bed and within 24 hours, she had finished all five essays and had done a good job on them.

Mom and some college friends – as bridemaids when one of them got married.

Mom had two other college stories that I’d like to share. One was about the art contest. Unable to go into creative writing, she studied art. She painted pictures in different styles. At the end of her senior year, I think it was, there was a contest where each student could put pieces up on a wall and their teacher would pick the best one in each of four categories.

Each time he picked a painting, abstract, modern, traditional etc. he made a speech about how this artist really understood this particular type of paining and probably could not do another kind, but how they would go on to do great work in this particular field of painting.

Only three of the four final paintings, when he turned them over, the name was Janey Brown. Mom won in three of the four categories.

A painting I found on one of Mom’s stories
(Not from college)


Mom did well with her paintings, but her real love was dance. While she was still in college, she spend a summer studying with the great modern dancer, Martha Graham. She was offered a place in Martha Graham’s company—Mom mentioned how she was even offered a spot in the company refrigerator for her lunch—but she was still in college, and she wanted to finish, so she turned it down.

During this period, when she was about twenty-one, she began to take ballet lessons to help with her modern dance and discovered she loved it. Modern dance contorted the body in odd ways, but ballet did not. Ballet became Mom’s great joy in life, and she never stopped it, right up to the end of her life.

At that time, she studied with the great teacher, Karel Shook, who helped found Dance Theater of Harlem. Karel Shook discovered Arthur Mitchell and even though there were no Black ballet dancers, he believed in this young man…and he turned out to be right. Mitchell went on to be the star of Dance Theater of Harlem. Mom took classes with Arthur Mitchell and with Eartha Kitt, who sang “Santa Baby” and played Catwoman and Esma in the Emperor’s New Groove.

But, to get back to college, she had one other strange occurrence that she would occasionally tell. Mom didn’t expect anyone to believe her, but she was a very honest person, and she told it just as she experienced it.

She was in the drama club and she was backstage during a play. They had different avenues through the curtain that one was supposed to take so that actors going on and off stage would not run into each other. All of a sudden, she realized that someone else was coming directly at her. She didn’t know if she or the other person was in the wrong spot, but the other person was coming with such force that she knew there was going to be a damaging collision. So she did what she always did. She prayed very hard.

And then, she was on the other side of the curtain. Mom did not know if she teleported or if she stepped through the curtain as if it was not solid or what happened. She only knew that the collision did not take place and she was now on the other side of this curtain.

She became convinced that this person coming at her, who had been so focused, must be destined to rise to the very top of his field. A few years later, she was studying ballet in London, and she ran into him on the street. She said she said:

“Bodge, you’re going to go right to the top of your field!”

He pulled out his empty pockets and said, “I hope so, because I’m broke now.”

She and a friend went to see him perform on the state in London. There was only one other person in the audience beside them, but he did a fantastic job.

Her friend asked, “Why do you put so much into your performance when there are only three people in the audience.

He replied, “Even if there were one person. He would have paid the same amount as anyone else would pay. He deserves the best performance I can give.”

Bodge was a nickname. That young man’s name was Robert Duvall, and he did go right to the very top of his field, winning three Best Actors and four Best Supporting Actor Oscars.

England and teaching and Dancing

Mom leaning out the back window of her parent’s house

She had a wonderful story about her first day in England. She found a nice hotel recommended by the tourist info place in the train station—I think it was Brown’s Hotel, the same one she told me about that I stayed in when I first went to England after I graduated in 1985. Mom settled in her room and then went out to see the city and to go to a Wednesday night church meeting, I believe.

When I went to England, I, too, went to a Wednesday night Testimony meeting and met a gentleman named Rodney Stone who had been a friend of hers. I recall how amazed he was when I explained who I was. He kept saying things like: You never are! She never is!

But, anyway, she came out onto the foggy streets and realized that she had forgotten to make a note of the address of the hotel. She had no idea where it—and all her belongings—were.

She went to ask a Bobbie—a policeman—for help, but he just laughed at her. In her stories of British policemen, they were never very helpful. I think she tried the tourist info place and it was closed.

Anyway, she ended up walking the way she had originally walked and praying. She prayed very hard to know that God knew where she was supposed to be. I wish I could remember more of the specifics. She told me this story many times, but somehow that part isn’t coming back to me.

Anyway, she walked and prayed until a sense of peace came to her. At that moment, there was an opening in the mist, and there was the hotel. She went up to it and, sure enough, her key let her in, and she was back where she was supposed to be.

During the next several years, Mom taught English at a private school in Litchfield Connecticut…where she figured out how to spell as she learned to teach spelling and went to England, as I just mentioned.

She also danced during the summer with a Chinese opera. We have a photo of that:

Close-up of that:

Her father died during this period. Her father had a friend, Dimiti Romanovski, who was a painter and when she returned from England, her mother wanted to help this friend for her father’s sake and commissioned him to paint a picture of her.

Mom came to view the picture and heard the painter talking with a loud, forceful young man. He sounded scary, so she hid under the stairs waiting for him to leave. But he didn’t leave.

Turns out, he was struck by the young woman in the portrait and wanted to meet her.

Dad – about the time Mom met him

Anyway, Mom went in eventually and met Dimitri’s friend, George Lamplighter, who immediately asked her out.

Mom and George began seeing each other, and she discovered something amazing. Back in the forties, he had been a high school reporter, covering the local sporting events on the radio. So when he joined the army to fight in WWII, he put reporter down as his profession.

He wanted to be a pilot but his eyesight was not good enough, so he went to navigator school, but as the war went on, he was afraid he would miss all the action, so he transferred to a tank unit and went to Europe.

Dad before the war

One day, he received a summons to go back to the base camp, Home Front, the newspaper that the army sent to the folks at home, wanted him. His tank buddies joked that he would never see the front now.

He answered the summons, and the man who had requested him was furious. This wasn’t a reporter. It was a kid barely out of high school. But he handed him so photos and told him to write captions.

George, whose name was George King at the time—his family name was Koplowitz, but during the war, they didn’t want a German sounding name, so they changed it to King. George thought King sounded pretentious, so later on, he went to a party and introduced himself as George Lamplighter. He got a job from that party, so he kept it.

George did a good job captioning the photos, so they kept him.

Three days later, he was waaay ahead of the tank unit on the front, accompanying some Life Magazine reporters as they crossed the Rhine to meet the Russians.

So he wrote for Home Front for the rest of the war and, afterwards, he covered the Nuremberg Trials for Stars and Stipes and for Life Magazine.

Dad in the army

This young man that Mom went on to marry had written the articles that Mom had read at age 12 that had cast such a pallor over her life.

I heard this story for the first time one night at a Wednesday Testimony Meeting. Afterward, I asked her if she had ever told him about this—how his articles had affected her life. She said, no, she had not told him. She was afraid that it would have made him sad.

Mom and her mom at the beach

Somewhere about this time, Mom was living back with her mom, when she heard a loud thump from upstairs. She didn’t think anything of it…until she heard the voice of her father, who had been dead for a few years, say: “Mother needs your help.”

She ran upstairs and her mother had collapsed. Her kidneys had given out, I believe. She was given six months to live. But her mother turned to Christian Science, and, within a year, she was entirely healed and lived another twenty years after that.

Her mother also developed a problem at one point and was in pain every day for seven and a half years. But she had friends with similar symptoms who had had surgery and it had not always been successful, so she stuck with Christian Scienc.e She prayed every day with a friend who was studying to be a practitioner and gave her passages from the Bible and the Christian Science text book, Science and Health, after seven and a half years, she was talking to another Christian Science friend and mentioned her stuggle, and the friend said, “Why that could not happen to good person like you.”

Upon hearing that, my grandmother was healed and lived another twelve years with no return of the problem.

But back to Mom. The Bolshoi Ballet came from Russia in 1962-63 I believe, and they needed to hire some American dancers to fill out their troupe. They wanted young dancers and Mom was like 27 by this point, not a young dancer, and they only picked a small number of dancers. It might have been seven.

Mom at the Bolshoi (I think)

But Mom got picked…because just before she came to the audition, my father proposed, and she was shining with joy. So she danced with them! I think the picture we have of her in a group of dancers might be from that time.

Close-up of picture above. Mom is on the left

One day, George said to her, “Next week, would you like to go to the Cloisters or would you like to get married?”

When my mom told me this story, she merely concluded, “And I’ve never been to the Cloisters. But some years afterwards, we did bring her. She finally went some twenty or thirty years later.

Married life

Mom and Dad – about the time they got married

Married life turned out to be shock. For those of you who knew my dad, you know why. For those who don’t, I don’t really want to go into how difficult he was to live with. I will just say, he covered the Nuremberg Trails as a very young man. He saw a lot of demons, so to speak, and he brought some back with him.

My dad grew up Jewish, but when Mom met him, he was a Zen Buddhist. He came home so torn up inside, and he met some Japanese priests and they seemed so calm. He was a Zen Buddhist most of his life after that. He would occasionally go to a Zen Monastery for a seshine…a week of meditating, Mom would go with him some times and use the time to pray. I went once or twice, too. But in the last years of his life, he spent a great deal of time listening to Mom read from the Bible and Science and Health. He really seemed to accept those ideas at the end.

But the main issue here is: he didn’t like organized religion, and he never let Mom go to church or take us to church. Church had been a big part of Mom’s life before that, but she never complained or said anything about it, really. She was quite active in church, however, once she moved down here in 2000.

I arrive on the scene

The next thirty-five years were very hard ones, but there was lots of good, too. Mom had two children—myself and my brother Law. We moved from Manhatten to North Salem, where we lived in a beautiful home surrounded by woods.

Law arrives on the scene!

Mom, Law, and I

We went hiking every weekend. Mom and Dad would go jogging together and then we would all hike in the wonderful park nearby. Mom would teach us Sunday School on Sundays, and then she would tell us stories while we walked. She told wonderful stories. They were amazing.

When we got a little older, we would go on Summer vacations to Fire Island or New Hampshire’s White Mountains—where we hiked the Presidential Range, staying at the huts run by the Appalachian Mountain Club, and went canoeing. Mom and Dad took fencing together for a number of years.

We did all sorts of activities. I don’t ever remember my mother balking at any of them, she was just as gung ho as my dad. The only time I ever saw her show a bit of hesitancy was in the last two years of her life, she began to have a bit of trouble with inclines. But luckily, we had discovered the C and O Canal Tow Path, which was entirely flat, so she was able to keep hiking right up to the very end.d

Dad objected to commercialism, including Christmas. So we had no tree and no storebought presents. But Mom would make us presents. The toys…now very worn, but they were wonderful once, on the table back there were made by her, as were wonderful doll clothing.

She said it was teaching herself how to make the doll clothing that led to her learning to do so many amazing things. She would be up super late the night before Christmas, trying to finish whatever it was, but she always got it done in time.

She made my prom dress, my wedding dress, and all sorts of other clothing. Even when she worked at Lynn House until 2020, she did sewing for people, fixing things or making pillows.

She said she went to the finest stores and studied the seams on the clothing there, how they were made. Then she made my clothing like that. . (John’s mom, photo grandmother amazing pleated dress, wonder how made, grew up seamstress.)

I had so many lovely pieces she had made, tops, skirts, all sorts of things. In fact, when I gathered what I could find two days ago—some of the pieces, sadly, had been eaten by mice—I was astonished at how much there was! How many pieces she had made!

Her most amazing creation was a Michael Jackson coat she made for my brother. She put so much into it. He loved it. Then he wore it to school once and the other kids teased him, and he never wore it again.

She taught dancing when I was young. I was no help. I used to cling to her leg instead of listening to her. She taught at the local school for some years. When I posted a notice about her memorial, a number of people wrote really lovely messages about how kind she had been when she taught them dance, and I got a very touching letter from someone who had been my babysitter about how Mom had inspired her to dance.

This young woman had become the top dancer at the studio where Mom and I took classes after she stopped teaching. We took classes from Alexandra Alland. Madam Alland was married to Alexander Alland, a famous early photographer, whose beautiful photographs graced his wife’s studio. She had been a Russian ballerina and taught in the Russian style.

Madam Alland’s studio, at the back of her house next to her husband’s antiques shop, was in Salem Center, New York. A few of you may know that there is another famous school in Salem Center New York—Dr. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters which was secret hide out of the X-Men in Marvel Comics. Salem Center was not a real place back then—though it is now. Back then, it was a crossroads in the middle of North Salem. The only things there were a church, a graveyard, and the Allands. I figured the X-Men’s school must be hidden in the empty field behind the ballet studio. My dad did really not approve of us wasting our time reading comics, but I would occasionally read the X-Men and tell him, “Dad, it’s not a comic, it’s local news!”

Anyway, Mom took classes there and really loved it. Later, she taught an adult class. She remained friends with some of the students right up until her last days.

There’s a funny story from the time when she was teaching dance to children. She would have us do a performance, which she had to choreograph and build sets for. When she did this, she would recall what she had learned about God being the intelligence that provided all ideas. In the middle of this building of sets and choreographing steps for little girls, she had to bring me to take an IQ test. Since she had nothing else to do while she waited, the proctor of the test, for some strange reason, asked her if she would like to take the IQ test, too.

I don’t know how much you recall about IQ tests, but a great deal of the questions are about special relations. Mom had just been thinking about nothing else as she prayed and prepared for the coming dance recital. She said had she taken the test any other week, she would have probably done just a normal job. But she aced it. She got a 162 or 1 164, I can’t recall.

She didn’t think very highly of IQ scores after that.

We had a lovely time growing up. She was such a wonderful mother. We had a lake across from our house, and she would bring us down there and do exercises or whatever. My wonderful cousin Ariel would visit for a week or so during the summer. She appears in some of the pictures in one of the videos. If you see pictures of my mom with two children and one is a fair-haired girl—that’s Ariel and the young dark-haired one is me.


Mom and Ariel and I at the beach

She was an excellent skater and taught me to skate at a very young age, while humming the Skater’s Waltz. She also came up with the idea of putting a harness on our dog, a big black lab. She would call him on one side of the lake and he would run to her, pulling us along across the ice. That was wonderful.

One day, when we were at the lake, Mom felt a terrible sense of fear for my father. She sat there all day, while Law and I played and swam to the raft and back, praying and praying, writing out quotes, truths about God that came to mind. She did this all day, until finally a great sense of peace settled on her.

My dad came home from the city that night. Usually, she had food ready for him. Not this time, so he was very angry. But the next day, he came in holding out the paper to her, his face white.

That day, when Mom had been praying, he had felt as if a voice had told him to go sit in a different part of the train, which he did. Turns out there was an accident on the train he was on up at the front involving the very place where he always rode. The people in that area had been killed. Had he not listened to that prompting, he would have been died.

Mom, Radish the Kitten, and Withywindle the Dog

Another person she prayed for was Bugio’s wife. Bugio was a young priest at the Zendo Dad and Mom used to attend occasionally. I think his non-Buddhist name was David something. Mom used to try to get me interested in meeting Bugio, but she never mentioned the one thing that would have gotten my attention—which was that he was extraordinarily handsome. However, she didn’t tell me this, so I didn’t meet him until after he was engaged, and I had already gotten together with John. And by then, it was too late for me to worry about it.

But Bugio’s fiancée had a brain tumor and was expected to die within a few months. She was slated for surgery, but they did not think she was going to survive.

Anyway, she asked Mom to pray. Mom did. She prayed as she walked on the beach at Block Island, I believe…some beach in Rhode Island. She prayed very hard, really trying to see this young woman as God saw her. She prayed until she felt a wonderful sense of peace and joy.

The young woman went to the pre surgery check up…and they could not find the tumor. She was entirely healed.

My brother became ill. I will not go into the details. That is his business, but Mom continued to support him and do what she could for him, right up until he went into a long term care place about three years ago. She never complained. After he went in, she visited him every week, continuing to do things to make his life happier, until the lockdown. As soon as they opened up again, we began visiting every other week. She always thought of him and looked out for things he would like and was considerate of him as best she could. She never complained or seemed in anyway burdened by this.

Me and Law and Mom and Dad at Law’s high school graduation.


Canaan and the plants

Eventually, my dad got ill, and they had to sell the house. This was in the mid 90s. They moved to a lovely place in Canaan, CT. When I was young, Mom and I used to poor over Burpees flower catalogues, but nothing we bought grew well, as we were in the shade under trees. I remember being amazed that the house in Canaan, when they bought it, had growing all the plants we had tried grown and failed. (except one, I will mention later.)

Mom took care of my father. Only at some point during this time, she came down with Lime’s Disease. This was the only time, to my knowledge, that she ever took medicine. She took something the doctor gave her, but it didn’t really help. Her motion constricted until she could hardly move her limbs. She couldn’t even go up a step or reach above right in front of her to get things in the refrigerator.

My dad told me that she had been crying. I don’t think I ever saw my mom cry from sadness, or very, very seldom. She did cry occasionally from joy while laughing.

This devastated me.

My parents had given me a copy of a book called Healing Spiritually. It was a compilation of Christian Science healings. I read the whole book, and that part of your mind that is skeptical, that just doesn’t believe in miracles or that God could really be so good? By the time I got to the end of the book, it had just gone away. My thoughts were just filled with light.

I called my mom and shared some ideas with her that came to me. It included the line about disporting yourselves I read earlier and the idea that she needed to forgive the tick.

And she was healed! She was entirely healed of Lime’s disease except for one ankle that was healed about a year later.

She was able to move again. She returned to hiking and dancing and was able to move freely. That was in the 1990s. It never returned.

Mom and Baby Orville

Grandmother and preschool

In 1998, my eldest son was born. Three days later, my dad died. He had been pretty sick for two years.

It took Mom and my brother some time to sell the house, but in October of 2000, they moved to Northern Virginia. They found a nice row house in walking distance from me. Close enough that the children could walk there when they were young.

Mom helped me with the boys—eventually there were three. She taught preschool for them and several other local children. With Orville and Juss, there were other children. When she taught Roland, she just taught Ro, but she did an amazing job of figuring out what he could understand and providing him with things he could do. She kept working with Roland for the rest of her life. She would teach him Sunday School in more recent years, and she taught him to sew. She had him sew seams and such.

John, Orville, Juss (Justinian) Roland, and Grandma
This picture was taken to send to China as part of the adoption process for adopting Ping-Ping.

Talbot and Lynn House

As the boys grew, she began to work, at least part time. She worked at a daycare. She made some of the puppets back there during this period. She worked for a number of years, along with our wonderful neighbor Jen Cook, for the Centreville Presbyterian Church, doing child care for their Wednesday morning women’s bible study.

Mom at Talbots

She worked for Tablots for some years, which led to her having a really beautiful wardrobe. Then she went to work for Lynn House of the Potomac as a Christian Science Nurse, which is like an ordinary nurse, but they don’t give any medicine. Mom trained to do nursing work, but she mainly worked with the residents there. Lynn House is part hospital and part nursing home. She worked on the nursing home side, taking care of patients many of whom were younger than her.

Mom at Lynn House – pointing girl Ping-Ping made her

Mom loved physical activity and motion. She developed things to do with her residents, lovely simple activities and gave them a Motion Class each week.

Over the last many years, Mom had written some songs. At one point, she had a whole musical she was working on, but after a while, she stuck with seven songs. During this period, she had a friend record them. For various reasons, she did not get the CDs back until a couple of weeks after she died, But her song CDs are on the table of things people can take home as memorials. They are recorded as MP3s, so you need to listen to them with a computer or an MP3 player.

All during this period, she continued to take ballet lessons—all by herself When Ping-Ping joined our family in 2009, she wanted to pay for Ping-Ping to take ballet, but she was not interested. As for me, I had stopped dancing about the time I got married, and nothing but God Himself could have convinced me to go back.


I will tell you what happened. If you don’t want to believe it or think I am crazy, that is your prerogative.

In 2014, I had a vision. Jesus Christ Himself came and asked me to ballet with my mom. He said—and I paraphrase remembering as best I can— that she had a great and magnificent spirit, and that she had lost sight of this, that she thought of herself as of less importance. So I should spend more time with her by going to ballet class with her.

Let me tell you, I was not excited about this.

But…I did it. And from May of 2014 until the week before she died, we went to ballet class together every week. Even during the lockdown, we took classes on Zoom. She even got Juss, her youngest grandchild, involved. He would prefer to take tap, but he did it!

I am so glad that I listened and did this, we had such fun together during this time. We would go to ballet, then go shopping, sometimes I would read her what I had written that week. We would talk about all sorts of things. It was wonderful.

Mom and I and others from our dance class celebrate Halloween.

Mom danced every week right up to one week before she left us. The only reason she did not go to ballet the day before she died was that it was Easter weekend and the school was closed.

Mom was elected First Reader at church—a job that entails leading the service twice a week. She did a great job.

She also ran several half Marathons in the last ten years. Or rather she wogged them. She described a wog as a cross between a walk and a jog. But she went five miles a day in training—all over the community—for months ahead of time.

Mom on her half marathon

Just before the Lockdown started, she switched jobs at Lynn House to being in charge of activities for the residence. When she called to check the time for her first day doing this, she was told that they had locked down and her job was not essential.

She was devastated…but later on, she and I gave thanks for this. We really felt this was a blessing in disguise. Roland was out of school, stuck at home during this period, and she started doing things with him that she could not have done. She walked with him to the store and back—a mile and a half to two mile walk for her—every single day, except for Sunday, when we all went walking with our Church group. Some of the photos in the video are of the Church Bunch—who went walking after church every week. Sometimes, I would walk with her and Roland and we would go walk along a river near us. We were always amazed at how each few weeks there was a new group of flowers and the place always looked so lovely.

Our Church Bunch among the bluebells

Mom never locked down. Not even for a single day. She went everywhere with no fear. She did have one afternoon when she was shivering and went to bed early. But she prayed and was fine the next day…this when the rest of the family went through having being much more ill.

She had no more fear of COVID than of any other illness she never feared and always handled quickly with prayer. She had a lovely testimony about calling in sick once at Lynn House and then calling a practitioner…and being healed quickly enough that she called back and said she could make it after all. She just was not afraid of any cold or flu or any illness like that.

Three Generations — Ping-Ping, Mom, and myself

She did break her arm and leg in 2016. She did go to the hospital and have surgery to have the bones set. She went to a recovery place briefly and then to the facility where she worked, Lynn House. Within about two to three months, she was back at work, back to jogging, and back to ballet.

So the last two years of her life turned out to be really joyous. She got up every morning and did an hour of ballet practice and stretches. She would go places with us, shopping, adventures, hikes. We took her rafting…she wasn’t entirely keen on this, but she came along. It was truly a lovely, lovely time.

Not super keen on tubing

The very last two weeks, Mom seemed just a tiny bit feebler, just a tiny bit confused. And, looking back, she said so many things you might say if you were trying to say goodbye, thanking me for all sorts of things with such joy.

I often think of those beams of light that come through clouds as angels. The last two weeks before she died, they were everywhere. I saw hundreds of them. I remember commenting to her that I wondered if I would look back and know what the angels had been up to.

Maybe they came to escort her home.


Last picture ever taken – on the Bluebell Path at Bull Run

Mom walked with Roland on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, by some quirk of fate, we didn’t get together. She was busy and we took Ro with us on some activities. But I talked to her on the phone. We were looking forward to Easter.

When I got there Easter morning, she was already gone. Apparently, Jesus rose up…and took her with Him.

Mom was 88, 16 days short of her 89th birthday. The paramedics that came to confirm that she had gone were amazed that she had no doctor, no medicine. She had been active and lucid up to the last minute, which is truly how she would have wanted to me.

Yet on more…mom

So Mom was a writer, a dancer, an artist, a seamstress, a singer. And yet the funny thing is: I hardly knew about any of this, except the dancing, when I was young—because she was also an excellent, excellent mother and later grandmother.

My children definitely know I am a writer. It occasionally gets in the way of me momming. But Mom was never like that. She used all her talents when dealing with and entertaining children, but she never seemed the slightest bit put out that she was doing this rather than something she wanted to do.

The only time she ever said a word along that lines was when we were trying to decide whether or not to adopt a 13 year old instead of a 2 year old. She pointed out that she had gone back to work and if we adopted a little child, she would be needed again—because she watched the children while I wrote. More than one of my books includes an acknowledgement that it could not have been written had she not been there to watch the children.

She truly was a most wonderful, most gracious mother and grandmother!

Taken in DC by Ping-Ping less than two weeks before Mom departed

In closing:

When I was going through my mother’s things, I found a bag in which she had a slip of paper. The paper said:


Overflowing with fervor, enthusiasm, or excitement. High spirited.

From Random House College Dictionary

She had signed it Jane, so perhaps she meant to give it to someone. But it seems so fitting for her to be going around with Ebullient in her purse. I cannot think of a word that describes my mother better.

Thank you for listening. Now it is your all’s turn to share what you remember about her.


Readings from her memorial: 

First hymn: Feed My Sheep by Mary Baker Eddy


Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
(Psalms 30:11)

1  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
(Psalms 23:1–6)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
(James 1:17)

All of God’s creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible.
(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 514:28–30)

Mind’s infinite ideas run and disport themselves. In humility they climb the heights of holiness.
(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 514:7)