Jane Currie Hugessen - July 10, 1930 - November 25, 2008

June Currie Hugessen

A memorial service was held for Jane on December 6, 2008 and was presided over by Rev. Diane Rollert.

This is a hard day to welcome you to this sanctuary.

Your presence and your love is most needed this day and in the days to come. I know that Jane wanted us to celebrate her life, and that we will do.

But I know Jane would have forgiven our sadness and our tears this day, for I bring you painful news.

We start this service with the sad announcement that Andy, Jane’s beloved husband, died late yesterday afternoon.

Both Andy and Jane had struggled with their health this past year, and in these past months, more than their courageous spirits let on. They lived with tender closeness throughout their lives together, and now they have left this earth within in a week and a half of each other.

Together they are departed. Together they rest in peace after a long and loving journey. Today we celebrate and honour Jane’s life, knowing that Andy was an integral part of who she was.

Another day will come and we will gather again to honour Andy’s life, knowing that Jane was an integral part of who he was.

Both would have asked us to be resigned, to let go, to say our goodbyes with dignity and some laughter. But this letting go is never easy.

May this time we spend together bring each of us solace in the memory of these two people we have loved so much. Let our spoken and unspoken memories fill this sanctuary. Together as one, Jane and Andy’s children, grandchildren, family, friends and community, let us surround each other with warmth and support.

For this was Jane and Andy’s gift to us. 

I invite Andrew Martin-Hugessen, Jane and Andy’s grandson, to light our chalice, our flame of community as we begin our service.

These words of the Salutation to the Dawn were Jane’s favourite, words she said each day as a girl at camp, words she knew by heart:
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In it’s brief course lie all the verities and reality of your existence;
the bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendour of beauty, for yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

Let us take a moment of silence.

Candles for those not present
I’d like to invite Colin and Ryan Hugessen and Constant and Worthy Martin-Hugessen to come forward.

Four candles are lit this day:
One for Jane and Andy’s son, Brian Hugessen, and his family who are far away in Perth Australia. One is for Jane and Andy’s daughter, Martha Hugessen, and her daughter, who are far away on the West Coast. One is for Andy Hugessen, loving husband, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend, whose passing away yesterday, leaves us with deep sadness. May his spirit be with us in this hour and always.
Finally, a simple Eskimo candle that Jane loved, for all those who could not be present with us today, but are also with us in spirit. 

Opening Song: Spirit of Life.
Remembrance – Fred Cappuccino
Litany of Remembrance – on back of order of service

Remembrance of Jane, by Rev. Diane Rollert
My first encounter with Jane was during a teacher training workshop for our children’s religious education program. We were downstairs in the children’s chapel.

Emily Cummins, who was our DRE then, was explaining the ropes to her new crop of teachers – of which, Jane was one, despite her many years of experience. I remember Jane’s voice rumbling low and making a comment at some point early on in the session, and I remember thinking to myself, “tough lady.”
That was my first impression.

Then Emily said, “We’re going to dance now.” And I wondered what she would do about Jane, and how Jane would respond. 

Emily invited Jane to sit on a chair in the center of the circle and Jane sat down and set her oxygen tank below.

Then Emily turned on the music and she, the teachers, and I began a circle dance around Jane. We stepped, we turned, we moved our hands up in the air and towards Jane. Jane sat regal and beautiful and so pacific in the center of that circle, smiling and making eye contact with each of us.

She was a goddess that morning and I will never forget that image: a tough lady who would never mince words, who courageously marched forward with life despite her illness, who could take you in with all the warmth and power of a loving goddess. That was Jane, the Jane I got to know and love.

Over the past two and a half years I’ve learned bits and pieces of Jane’s life, always with Andy central to the tales. They met as college students, skiing on the most challenging slopes of Mount Washington. (You may hear this story several times today – what is repeated bears repeating many times over.)

Jane said it was so nice to meet Andy because she didn’t have to teach him how to ski.

That first encounter included a famous incident with poor Andy awkwardly spraying Jane with a can a beer by accident. Luckily, Jane left her passport behind – accidentally on purpose perhaps? – and Andy tracked her down to make amends.

They were skiers, hikers, birders, world travelers, party hosts and lovers of fun and of life together.
When Andy won a sailing competition and his work wasn’t going to let him go to the Olympics, Jane said, “Are you crazy? Or course you’re going.”

And they postponed their wedding plans until he returned. Together they raised four children, the twins Brian (the oldest by 10 minutes) and Wendy, John and Martha.

John says he marvels now at how well Jane managed it all. Four kids, four schedules, a non-stop life of activities.

Summers and weekends were spent at Lake Ann, each child with a bunkbed in their room so that lots of friends could come and stay. It was Jane’s own summer camp for kids.

Jane shared with Andy the ups and downs of parenthood, always there, always reaching out, no matter what happened.

They shared their joy with grandchildren, teaching them how to ski and swim, just as they had taught their children.

Jane was ever there, encouraging her grandchildren to live out their dreams. “Go.” she’d say. “Don’t waste your time talking about it.  Just do it.”

When she couldn’t ski anymore, she’d pour over the maps of Mont Tremblant with her grandchildren. “What trails did you ski today?” she’d ask.

Jane and Andy became active Unitarians in the Lakeshore Congregation in the early 1960s. Jane, along with the minister’s wife Nancy Eddis were part of a gang of five trouble makers. They say they nearly shut things down in the Lakeshore church trying to fight for the Point Clair preschool.

After studying phys ed, Jane’s deepest vocation was early childhood education. She helped to start a program at McGill, taught preschool and worked with mentally disabled children. Later in life she became an accomplished amateur photographer.

Jane spent the last 13 years or so of her life battling illness. She survived breast cancer, followed by cancer that spread to her lungs, followed by COPD and a life attached to a rented oxygen machine.

When she outlived the insurance company’s actuarial predictions, the company bought the machine for her. She had survived beyond everyone’s expectations.

As Nancy told me, she and Jane spent many hours in these past years going back and forth to the hospital. Somehow, Jane always made it fun. (Whatever blows your skits up, she’d say. Apparently, she also taught Nancy how to swear.)

Jane kept going, never complaining, inspiring us all with her courage.  Her last year was a hard but good year. Her last months were spent with Wendy there, always, gently tending to Jane’s needs, returning the gift of love she had always received.

Those last months were spent with Brian here for an extended period, with John and Lynda and their sons and Wendy’s sons, and family and friends coming and going.

Jane made friends and she kept them for life.

Jane’s last day of life was a good one. She spent her day with Wendy. She visited with dearest friends. She sat and held Andy’s hand.

Perhaps they both knew on some level that this was their final goodbye. She died peacefully that evening.

A year ago when Jane was in the hospital, I asked her if there was anything she wanted me to do for her. Yes, she said, Tell a really bawdy joke for me at church. I laughed, yeah, sure Jane. Come on, she said, you can do it!

That’s the Jane in the photo of your order of service. “Come on. Get on with it.”

So here it is, Jane.
It’s not bawdy, but is the best as I could do under the circumstances:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down for the night, and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend awake. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." Watson replied, "I see millions and millions of stars."
"What does that tell you?" Holmes questioned.

Watson pondered for a minute. "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.
What does it tell you?"

Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke. "Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent."

Jane, Jane, Jane, our tent is gone, you are gone, but you have left us with the stars.
I have missed you and I will go on missing you and Andy. But I will remain ever grateful that my life intersected with yours and I will carry the gift of your hugs, your smiles and your loving courage with me forever.
As will we all.

Musical Interlude – Morning Has Broken, Cat Stevens
Remembrances – Phyllis Greggain, Andrew Martin-Hugessen
Reading – I Say it Touches
Song No. 354 – We Laugh We Cry
Remembrances - Wendy Hugessen

Spirit of Life, presence in which we live and move and breathe, by whatever it takes, may we be absolved from the would have, the could have, the should have of loss.
Remind us that no matter what we have done, or wish we could have done, there would never have been enough time to say goodbye, never enough hugs, never enough kisses, never enough laughter and stories and songs shared with Jane or with her beloved Andy.

Now we must let go of our wishes that they could have lived on forever, getting stronger not weaker, remaining forever a solid presence in our lives.
Whatever does go unspoken and unfinished, may there be closure now, loving forgiveness, loving acceptance, loving gratitude, for lives that have touched so many, that will ripple out forever, in children and in grandchildren in friends and in family.

We have been shaped and changed by Jane and Andy’s presence in our lives.
Let us raise a glass, a smile, a nod, a prayer of thankfulness for the liberation of energy and spirit from bodies that had grown tired and broken down with pain.
Let us give thanks for the freedom of love given without question, for the fierce spirit of independence that burned brightly to the end, and for the quiet, peaceful letting go of breath.

May we find the strength to let go gently of what was body, breath and flesh.
May we hold on firmly to what is in memory and in spirit. Amen.

Closing Song No. 324  Where My Spirit Onward Leads

Closing Words
Let us end with these words, from Gift of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg written as she reflected on her days on Sanibel Island.

“When you love someone you do not love them all the time,
in exactly the same way, from moment to moment.
It is an impossibility.
It is even a lie to pretend to.
And yet it is exactly what most of us demand.
We have little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.
We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb.
We are afraid it will never return.
We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.”

Dance on Jane, dance on with Andy, as you taught us to dance in life, barely touching as your spirit passes, partners with each other and with us in the same grateful and graceful pattern.
Dance in peace upon an infinite field of the whitest snow, and upon the waves of the bluest sea.
Dearest ones, there we will seek you, there we will find you.