In Celebration of Janet Garey
“I’m a gracefully aging hippie chick still idealistically crazy in love with Planet Earth and all her inhabitants, flora & fauna, great and small.” J. Garey
It has taken me a while to sit down and write this. Not because I couldn’t find the time – although yes, life has been busy. And not because I didn’t know what to say – although, it is at times like this, that even writers and editors can be at a loss for words.
It is because once one actually sits down to write something like this, there is a sense of, well, permanence. Finality. And that, dear readers, makes me want to cry. Sometimes it only takes a moment for someone to touch your heart.
I’d been holding on to Janet’s last post (she wrote it the week before she passed) in a way to hold on to Janet. But now it is time pay proper tribute — to celebrate a woman, a writer, a mother, a grandmother, who cared so much about her family (of which her ‘critters’ were a huge part), her friends, and the Care2 community.
Janet loved language, loved humor, loved her daughter and granddaughter, and loved all creatures, furry, fuzzy and fluffy. She was, in her own words, “a gracefully aging hippie chick still idealistically crazy in love with Planet Earth and all her inhabitants, flora & fauna, great and small.”
Janet was also a professional journalist, environmental educator, cat-lover and self-professed “AARParrothead”. She was devoted to a variety of community-based projects, the nearest and dearest to her heart: rescuing and finding homes for hundreds of stray and/or abandoned cats.
At last count, her immediate family included six cats and dog Papi, all of whom featured prominently in her writings. She drew us into their lives — her life – with tails (and tales) of hope, courage, humor and inspiration. Sometimes, there was tragedy, as in The Cat-astrophic Cat-alyst, but there was always gratitude and love at the end.
Her imagery brought us into her world, and closer to her loved ones, daughter Amanda, granddaughter Lexie, and the entire furry Garey gang. “Daizee, diminutive, delicate and dainty…she reflects the quiet side of my nature…” while “Gene Wilder who loves everyone loudly, insistently, obviously content with his notion of a purr-fect life; for me, he personifies joy, pure and simple…”
She goes on to describe Siblings Bela and Smudge, “the inseparable duo has reached ‘tween-age’ in size, appetite and temperament….” and Lord Puggington McWhiskers, aka Puggy, “fewer than fifteen weeks old, the toddler thinks himself lion-esque, approaching every aspect of his world with boundless energy and wonder…” and the many foster kittens receiving tender-loving-care before being placed in their new homes. On and on the stories went about the true loves in Janet’s life, and their adventures.
In Dower Power, a column about being an activist in the 1960′s and an activist now entering into her 60′s, she wrote about the idealism of the times and how, just as she and others were activists ‘way back then,’ everyone can be a creative, positive, changemaker today.
“Here, you and I have a weekly opportunity to meander down Memory Lane, speculate about the future, offer some empathy, share experiences, events and people who have shaped ourselves, learn from one another as we contribute a life lesson or two…” she wrote. “And all along the way, I believe we will discover that…..inside each of us lies a beautiful, powerful spirit just waiting to be bequeathed.”
She received hundreds of emails each week from Care2 members, and would respond to nearly every one of them. She loved the Care2 community, and everyone that supported her work and her passions. Her personal motto was “To live, love and learn to be one with Mother Earth now and for always!”
Despite being a self-professed technophobe, the internet was Janet’s connection to the Care2 community and the world when she was no longer able to venture outside her home. And through her words, she touched lives around the globe.
“Please accept our warmest, and heartfelt wishes that you find joy, love, peace, personal, spiritual and social fulfillment now and always,” Janet wrote in her Very Garey Christmas post. “Please know that come whatever date you observe the festival of your heart, the Garey Gang will be with you in spirit.”
We will miss Janet’s wit, her wisdom, and her warmth. I will miss our conversations and her emails. Her words, and her spirit, will remain with us always.
And in a message from her daughter Amanda: Please raise a glass in toast to an extraordinary woman and honor her life in celebration. It’s what she wanted. Let the tears we shed be not only of sadness but of joy in remembrance of the shining light that blessed our lives. Celebrate the woman we knew and loved. Celebrate and pass that love and joy along.
From all of us at Care2, here’s to you Janet: Sending you peace, love, and joy everlasting.