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Jane Polard (Manderson)
June 3, 1923 - February 12, 2017
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<div itemprop="description">Mom never prevaricated. She either said exactly what she meant, or when discretion prevailed, nothing at all. She was also decisive. So when she announced, 'I’m done' one day in late September 2016, we naturally assumed that meant she wouldn’t come back from the massive stroke she had the next day. It turns out she wasn’t actually done until February 12, 2017. <br> <br>Mom was born in June 1923 in Darnley, Prince Edward Island. Her parents christened her Elizabeth Jane Manderson, but for the next 93 years she was simply Jane to everyone that knew her. She became an early proficient at mischief and pranks, and as she grew up she learned how to temper common sense with just the right amount of frivolity to keep life interesting. <br> <br>She entered adulthood equipped with a sharp mind, a wicked sense of humour and a stubborn streak a mile long. In an era when women were just entering the workforce in numbers, she chose jobs like welding or warehouse supervision and had no problem telling her boss to ‘bite my arse’, when appropriate. She had a rock solid sense of self-worth and zero tolerance for bullshit that usually served her well. <br> <br>Near the end of WWII she met dad in Halifax, and although we asked many times she never really told us how that actually happened. But since dad was a bit of a prude, we’re sure the story wasn’t all that juicy. Once married and out west, she discovered a few things. Farmhouse doors can literally freeze shut. And she really didn’t enjoy gardening all that much, flower or vegetable. Or tent camping. Not a fan. And that when she got fire-spitting angry, she could throw things with deadly accuracy. Anything could be eaten if you boiled it long enough. Cursing is a performance art. And she wasn’t keen on freshwater fish. She also refused to learn how to milk a cow, no matter how many times dad offered to teach her because ‘if I learn how, then I’ll have to do it’. Same with the farm equipment, for the same reason. <br> <br>There were many things she did really, really well. If Canada had a national needlework team, she would have been its captain. She could make $50 last for months, and barbeque sauce for decades. She became adept at fitting large furniture in a very small room, and occasionally rearranging it. She baked the world’s best angel food cake from scratch without looking at a recipe. She knew how to play more card games than Hoyle. She was both good at math, and a gifted artist. And when everyone else was avoiding something difficult or distasteful, with an exasperated ‘oh, for Chrissakes!’ she took care of it in short order. She had no patience for bullies, stupidity, sass or people who left a mess for others to clean up. She supported the underdog, and always chose what was right over what was popular. She hugged and nurtured, and also understood when a kick in the ass was the correct step forward. <br> <br>Mom appreciated sharing a good joke, and especially liked inserting a few zingers into conversation if there was an audience that could appreciate them. She also loved trivia and puzzles of all kinds. She was drawn to bright or interesting things, and while one would never call her a ‘pack-rat’, her collecting habits did place her firmly in the ‘magpie’ category - she kept gold filigree art deco jewelry in an English mint tin with a small plastic frog wearing a bowler hat and googly eyes. And both were equally appealing to her. <br> <br>Music was a big part of her life, and she appreciated many genres except rap and hip-hop. We suspect she wouldn’t have liked screamo much either, but you never know. Most of her collection was Canadian; old-time fiddle and Canadian folk, a lot of East Coast, a smattering of 70s and 80s pop and old-school Country. Nana Mouskouri held pride-of-place next to the recordings of dad and their friends, and our cousin’s fantastic Elvis tribute CDs. She kept those with her until the end. <br> <br>Watching as her friends and family moved on one by one before her, she waited with dwindling patience for her turn. Maybe it was the incredible brightness of her spirit that kept her tiny frame going, because she hung on longer than even she wanted to. But we cherished every moment we could. <br> <br>As we packed up her room at the nursing home, we marveled once again how she could keep so much stuff in such a small space. We laughed at the complete randomness of the things she had squirreled away, and not once did we argue over who got what. Mom wouldn’t have stood for it. Nor would she have stood for us spending any money on a memorial - in fact she threatened to come back and haunt us if we did. ‘Who the hell would come?’ she reasoned, ‘Everyone I know is already dead.’ Always pragmatic, was Jane. <br> <br>So instead we held a small family wake, which she would have appreciated. Mom never drank to excess; she said she’d dragged enough drunk women off of tables at the Officer’s Club during the war to last a lifetime. But she did enjoy the occasional glass of wine or shot of Bailey’s. We had both, with pizza and chicken chunks, which she loved. We laughed, we reminisced. We talked about our past with her, and began the journey into our future without her. Mom understood that everyone you love comes with some foibles. She never made excuses for ours, or hers. For all of her nearly 94 years, she remained steadfastly herself. It was just one of the many things we loved about her. <br> <br>Mom left us many treasures. Tiny glass owls, an oft-repaired ‘Swiss Couple’ weather station from the 1960s, one of the first metal fingernail files ever forged, and a paring knife with the blade worn down to a needle to name just a few. But the greatest legacy she left us with is a copy of ‘Jane’s Common Sense Handbook for Life, Death, and Everything In-Between’ to carry around with us in our hearts. And someday, if we are half the parent she was, we’ll be able to pass it on to our children and grandchildren. <br> <br>Thanks for everything, mom. Say ‘hi’ to dad, and have the kettle on for us. <br> <br></div>