Grandma Jane Elizabeth Read Latourette
She was a creative, energetic author and teacher who taught me how to write letters and who encouraged me to become a teacher.
Grandma bought me little plastic platform shoes for me and my sister when we were little, and we liked clicking them on the checker board floor of the basement until they broke. Grandpa glued them back together and then we broke them again with our clicking.
Grandma Jane taught me how to tie my shoes. I remember her showing me in the hallway outside their kitchen, and then I was able to tie my shoes myself!
She was an English and Speech teacher, and a writer! She wrote a lot of odes in honor of our birthdays and then little books of haikus for Christmas.
She was always writing my Mom letters, then when I was around 9 or 10 I started writing back and forth with Grandma and it didn’t stop until she couldn’t write anymore a few years ago.
She encouraged me in my writing and in becoming a teacher! It was exciting when I could tell her I got my teacher’s license. Grandma Jane believed in me, and it really helped me try teaching in Costa Rica and now in Chicago. Last year in my school’s library I found that they have two of Grandma’s children storybooks– Arch Books–there!
A week ago Saturday after Mom and I saw Grandma for the last time (the last thing I did was give her a hug, touch her warm hand one last time, and say “See you later! I love you.), we walked outside and Mom found a ginkgo leaf on the sidewalk–one of the old leaves from last year. Then on Tuesday, April 1st, it was Grandma’s time to let go and go to a better place.
At her service last Sunday, I chose to read two of her poems that showed her skill as a poet, enthusiasm for life, and voice as a writer.
This one shows how she loved Philosophy and thinking about identity:
When There’s No “Next Thing” To Do
By Jane Latourette
I wonder where my mind and heart will wander
when “shoulds” and “oughts” have been removed;
when no obligatory chores remain, demanding to be done.
If given time and place and solitude,
will my own self emerge
in ways unknown til now,
to begin to tell me,
“This is really Who You Are”?
Or, am I a Mix of relationships
that pull me, willy-nilly
into time and energy-consuming actions,
So that, only if I make a place for solitude
Will I discover that part of ME I still don’t know?
And here’s the poem Grandma Jane wrote in honor of the ginkgo trees that loose their leaves all at once in one night!
The Ginkgo Gavotte
By Jane Latourette
Last night they agreed,
It was time to be freed,
Enough of being treed
branch-on-branch so proper.
Down, down they whirled and twirled,
In giddy, reckless flight–
Such storms of yellow light–
It seemed there was no stopper!
As the French peasants danced
in a quickened 4/4 time,
These fan-shaped joyous leaves
Had one last fling sublime.
Letting breezes blow them
In circles or straight lines,
Or zig-zag moves, or borne aloft.
No more the set designs.
Each one savored freedom,
If only for a spell–
Donated then their beings
For next season’s sentinel
Of green-leafed shade. Their offsprings
Would harsh hot sun dispell.
Now, I’m one of the writers and teachers left behind; Grandma Jane would have been happy to know that next week I get to teach my students how to write haiku poems.
See you later, Grandma Jane.