When you step on to the wooden porch of Jewitt’s store, it is the first step into a magical world. The hanging flower pots show that there is love to be experiened here. The chairs off to the side beckon you to sit. Take a load off. Before entering the store, one is drawn to the notice board to the left of the door. Posters for chalet rentals, property management, boats for sale flutter in the wind. After perusing the notices you open the screen door with the Orange Crush sign across the centre and enter the store; the second step into this magical world. The door jingling as it opens, and closes.
As you walk down the aisle, you have a display case on your right. Inside you see everything from fireworks, to children’s toys to postcards. On the left, the shelves hold cookies, a number of varieties, including Maple Creams. As you walk towards the meat counter filled with local meats and cheeses, you pass the cash register. In front of the cash register you find the penny candy. Yes, there are penny candies. Small red, swedish berries. One penny each. An assortment of other candies are there too. Fuzzy peaches. Sour worms. Gummy bears. Some kind of blue gummy candy coated in sugar. Black liquorice pipes. Cherry twizzlers, with the bag closed with a clothes pin.
And behind the counter you will find Janie.
Janie is one of those people that when you meet, you instantly like. Her smile, infectious, always reaches her eyes. She will call you by name and if by chance she does not remember your name (which was never) she will say something that let’s you know that she knows who you are. That she remembers you.
If you are in the store when there are no other customers, you will find yourself immersed into a conversation that can last for as long as it takes for another customer to come into the store. If you are are lucky, it could be a half an hour. Sometimes more.
To use a term from Anne of Green Gables, talking with Janie was like talking to a kindred spirit. She had a way of making you feel special. I can’t put my finger on it. Not anything specific always. But you could not leave there without having smiled with her, or having shared a laugh. The conversations her and I shared over my endless purchases of toilet paper are too numerous to recount.
She had a way of making you feel special. In the way she looked at you. In the way she spoke, in the words she said, in the smile she shared. In the way she listened.
I have always thought Janie to be an exceptionally special woman.
What I find to be most special, is that everyone who came across Janie, had the exact same experience. Today, after hearing that we have lost sweet Jane, I found myself on Facebook where post after post, recounted the same experience and feelings that I had. So many have known Janie their whole lives. But no matter how many years that may have been, it all comes down to the same thing; she was special and she made everyone she came into contact with feel special. I read of the numerous accounts of penny candy being purchased; more candies than the coins in hand should have allowed. Families happily stopping upon their arrival to the lake, and sadly saying good bye at the end of vacation. Everyone mentions conversations, smiles and laughs. She has been called a friend, family, an aunt, a confidant.
We are all better for having known her. Sweet Jane you will be missed by so, so many. All around the world tonight, hearts are heavy. Watch over us. We will always need you.