Home » MEMORIES OF JANE

MEMORIES OF JANE

I have been asked by some folks whether there was a web page available where people could stop by and leave messages in memory of a very dear friend of ours who passed away last week. There wasn’t and so I have added this page to my blog, which hopefully will serve as a permanent online memorial to a most extraordinary woman:

JANE ABRAMS

Jane was my close friend since we were both 7 years old – that was just a bit over 50 years ago! Her death was sudden and heart-breaking and to be honest, I’m having a hard time with it. For now, I’m just going to embed a graphic that I created to send to friends. I promise to get back here to share with you what made Janie so special, and will also see if I can find some photos to post. In the meantime, I invite all those who knew and loved Janie, to please share a memory or two in a comment below. I’m really not sure whether or not you’ll be able to attach photos to your comments – if not, e-mail them to me and I’ll be sure to post them here.

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NOTE: If you’ve never commented on my blog before, you will be required to submit your e-mail address and your comment will not appear until I manually approve it. I promise that your e-mail will not be visible to the public and that I will never disclose it or abuse it. This precaution is for your protection as well as mine. Once approved, you won’t have to go through this routine next time you want to post a comment.

Jane Abrams - 1978  (Courtesy of Marc Cherenson)

Jane Abrams – 1978 (Courtesy of Marc Cherenson) – She really didn’t age much since all those years ago!


More Photos Available at: – THANK YOU SO MUCH, Marc for sharing these with us!

14 thoughts on “MEMORIES OF JANE

  1. I had not seen Jane for decades until the reunion and it was one of the many emotional experiences of that night to see her again. And now realizing it was the last time I would see her… I guess I should thank her that too often in life we think there will always be another chance and another and another. I thank Jane’s memory for that difficult reminder and hope we can all take something positive from her loss from among us and from our little community and the relationships we are all a part of.
    – Rick Fleeter

  2. It has been years since Jane and I had been together but in my soul she will always remain as one of the dearest friends of my life. Such a special, compassionate person that I had the privelege of growing up with. What I wouldn’t give to have time with her now.
    Leatrice, Rick and Patty , all my love and prayers.
    Sharon Sass

  3. I haven’t seen or spoken with Jane in many years, but we shared so much time together during the years that influenced me and shaped me into who I am today. Like Rick’s comment, I guess I always assumed she would be there, that we all will be there, whenever and wherever there is. I am truly sad that the opportunity to see her again physically or to hear her voice no longer exists. I am happy that I have so many memories that I can hold in my heart, and that I can always be grateful for our friendship and the time(s) we shared. I grieve at the choice she made, and I send her spirit loving, healing energy, in the hopes that she can find the peace and joy that she was seeking. I wish I had some insight and some words to share with you Leatrice, Patty and Rick. I do send you love. Leslie Felbain

  4. I met Jane in kindergarten and although we lost touch in the last few decades, I consider her a dear friend and an integral part of my life. I have so many memories of her that I cannot begin to sort through them all. Some that come to mind:

    Making s’mores and sit-upons in Girl Scouts.
    Watching a solar eclipse together using a piece of cardboard with a pinhole.
    Attending her 6th grade graduation party (and then years later watching home movies of that same event at the Abram’s house),
    7th grade Home Ec class when Jane called me over to the sewing machine where she was making her apron and held up her finger that had the NEEDLE sticking out of it and calmly asked me what she should do about it. (I screamed enough for both of us but she was one cool cucumber).
    When Jane had a raccoon as a pet.
    The Friday night that Sue Gelb tried on Jane’s contacts and they got stuck and we had to drive over to my optometrist’s house in Beachwood so he could remove them (and not tell our parents).
    Hanging out in the Abram’s kitchen with her parents, Leslie Felbain, Bonnie (the Sheltie), and Beau (the Bichon).
    Hanging out at Rainblue (the consignment store on Coventry that Jane created with Faffie Fisher the summer before she went to Carnegie Melon). We sold just enough to cover the petty cash we took out of the register to run down to Tommy’s deli to buy grilled cheese pita sandwiches. Leslie F. and Greg Victoroff were partners in crime.
    Jane (along with Leslie F.) surprised me with a puppy for my 17th birthday (to my delight and my parents’ chagrin).
    The time Leslie, Jane, and I went skinny dipping in broad daylight at a Metro-park and some boys saw us and started swimming over. We started to freak out a little and decided that we would pretend we were from France and didn’t speak any English. (We spoke “Frenglish”).
    Jane coming to Madison, WI to visit Leslie F. and me when we were in college and sharing your typical college experiences. (Hey, it was the seventies).
    When Jane gave her mom and dad weed as a gift for their wedding anniversary. (They were surprised to say the least).
    On New Year’s Eve 1974 Jane knew I was hurting over my breakup with Greg V. so she took me to a party at one of her brother Rick’s friends so I wouldn’t be alone. She stuck by me the whole time.
    When my husband and I visited Jane in LA in 1979 we rode all over the Hollywood Hills in her boyfriend Mark’s bad-ass big convertible. She served me my first artichoke and she took us to one of those Turkish restaurants where you recline on pillows and watch belly dancers.
    When I visited Jane in LA in early 1986 after my oldest son was born, she gave him his first taste of cheesecake and took off his baby shoes so he could feel grass for the first time (it was winter back home in Wisconsin).

    I think we all remember Jane as witty and articulate with a sharp, on point sense of humor and strong convictions about things she believed in. She was undoubtedly one of the smartest people I have ever known with a generous heart as well. I saw her for the last time at the Belvoir reunion and we had a few phone conversations after that. I am so sorry that she carried such a heavy load at the end. My heart goes out to Leatrice, Patty, and Rick and I hope that you can take some comfort in knowing how much she was a part of our lives. I will never forget her.

  5. The Early Years. Jane was radiant, passionate, generous, insightful, idealistic, caring, nurturing, loving, funny, warm, exciting, beautiful, spiritual, highly creative and intelligent. Memories from the 70′s include Jane’s skill at gift wrapping dogs and an an almost magical ability to find the best songs on any car radio, anytime, anywhere.

    It was a time of great social change. Vietnam war demonstrations, Marvyn Gaye, the Allman Brothers, the 1968 Democratic convention, the Chicago 7, Black Panthers, Patti Hearst. Jane started an arts and craft consignment store on Coventry with the best name of any store ever: Rainblue, a product of Jane’s entrepreneurial genius. The concept and execution was perfect for the times and endured for decades. I got to carry in the cash register. Vikki and I sat next to Jane when my Dad took us all to see the musical Hair. One of the lead actors (wearing only an Indian breechcloth) singled Jane out of the audience. Crawling through the ‘fourth wall’ over seats and patrons, he perched himself on the seatbacks of the row in front of us, straddling Jane’s blushing face between his bare legs, as he sang. It was the Age of Aquarius.

    Jane’s passion for fighting injustice and helping the helpless forever imprinted on me. Jane was admitted to the prestigious Case Western Reserve School of Law the same year as I started law school at CSU. Her idealism and ethics were the ‘gold standard’ against which I measured my actions: Could I look Jane in the eye and tell her what I did today? “What would Jane say?” It was undoubtedly Jane’s high moral standards and my desire for Jane’s approval that influenced me to donate a ridiculous number of Pro Bono hours to indigent clients over the past 35 years.

    The Hollywood Years. Jane and I both worked on the Burbank Studios lot in 1978. We had great fun at our star-gazing lunches in the studio commissary. Years later we would have Mexican food at a place near Jane’s job at Dick Clark Productions. On several occasions Jane, her boyfriend Marc and I would be Miles Hurwitz’ guest backstage at Grateful Dead concerts in San Francisco. Times of uninhibited, collective bliss, with Jane dancing, literally for hours, to her favorite music, surrounded by people who loved and cared for her, safe and happy. And, yes, Jane was immortalized in the Rolling Stone issue about John Belushi, when she rescued a confused Belushi from her doorstep and hosted him in her living room for hours until Jane’s neighbor, Richard Beltzer, got home and claimed his friend.

    The Santa Fe Years. Jane moved to Santa Fe in the 90s to take a job with Peter Coyote. I visited her several times. It was great to see her in the natural beauty of New Mexico, but Santa Fe is a challenging place to live. One time Jane and I drove to Albuquerque with backstage passes Jane had finagled and got to hang out with Jackson Brown and Tom Petty after the show. One incredibly blue morning Jane took me to the Santa Fe flea market. She had no idea how beautiful she looked in her hunter-green baseball cap, flitting like a Blue Jay from table to table, introducing me to her friends. Jane’s loving heart and generous spirit moved her to spend her very meager resources on fossilized shark teeth for me to take home to my 2 boys, which we will forever treasure.

    The Bird Thing. Jane had great connection to, and empathy for, all animals. First, her beloved dogs, Bonnie (a Brillo pad with 4 legs and a bad overbite) and Beau (a cute but pitiful excuse for a dog, probably descended from an Hors d’oeuvre). Many years later Jane did important work with Koko the famous kitten-adopting gorilla and other primates. Jane’s love of wild birds provided companionship and an outlet for Jane’s nurturing instincts, without the obligation and ultimate heartbreak of canine stewardship. Jane embraced birds’ mystical attributes as messengers of the gods in Native American and western mythology, culture and literature. Communing with her feathered friends was comforting and soothing for Jane in a spiritual, meditative way.

    Jane called me on Monday, October 22. She asked how my children and I were doing. She volunteered that she felt happier in her new place in New Mexico that she had felt in 10 years. We talked for almost a half an hour, about Jane’s frustration getting a working email and Internet connection, the tyranny of automation, the beauty of New Mexico, and an unexplained and ominous absence of wild birds. A bit agitated at first, after talking through some concerns she had about her medical records, Jane sounded calm and clear. Not depressed. Not sad. I urged her to continue with whatever medication and treatment she had and, anticipating a cold NM winter, made a big pitch for Jane to get email and Internet access so we could continue contact. I ended telling Jane I loved her, that a lot of people loved her, and that she should call me anytime for anything. I’m really glad I did.

    My heartfelt sympathies to Jane’s mom, (“Mrs. Abrams”), brother Rick and sister Pat who did and always will, love Jane dearly.

  6. Jane & I have been casual friends since she lived in California some years ago. She would call me at the most unexpected moments and share her journey w/me, occasionaly asking my advice. During the last few months I had a few more calls than usual…just before she left the midwest and when she arrived in New Mexico she spoke about visiting Santa Fe and mentioned a few problems she had in adjusting to traveling. Her wish was to come to Los Angeles and fit once again into a community where she could find work she enjoyed and add some substnace to her life. She was very upbeat and seemed excited to taking charge of her life. I learned about her passing today. I just hope within those moments there was serenity and faith.

    Omar Kaczmarczyk

  7. I’m not usually a weepy person, raised to be the family stoic, but Jane’s passing has hit me hard. She was always such a special person in my life yet I’ve found it hard this last week to put it into words why. Reading the comments from others who loved her, including here, on my facebook page, in e-mails and long calls with her sister Pat, Bob Simon, Madeline Drexler, Sharon Sass, and Marc Cherenson has helped tremendously. It warms my heart to no end to hear and read what each of you have said and to have confirmed what I had always told Janie: That she was a brilliant person, extraordinary soul, and loved by many. It has always broken my heart that her ability to enjoy those gifts was stolen by her own brain gone rogue.

    The fun, creative, intelligent, compassionate person described by others was the Jane that I always saw, even on her darkest days. For, in the midst of fighting all of her own demons, she was somehow able to pull herself together to be there for me whether it was when I awoke from surgery due to uterine cancer to see her smiling face, holding a magic wand she had brought for me; or when she rushed out in the middle of the night to drive me to the hospital when my husband had to be rushed back to intensive care after falling on his head (while he still had a feeding tube and IV from having most of his bowels removed) and I was delirious from the chemo I was on. It was an incredible effort for Janie just to leave her apartment at that time and she will always be my hero for that.

    The first time that Jane became my hero was soon after I met her, at age 7. My parents had just gotten divorced – a very uncommon occurrence in 1961, (I think Shelly Brown and I were the only kids in the whole school who’s parents were divorced). So what did Janie do that was so wonderful? She made me laugh. She lead me on mystical journeys of imagination where I was completely free from the tragic and ugly things in life. By her own example, she taught me how to survive with my soul intact, and how to never, ever betray who I am.

    I loved Janie for her strong sense of ethics and did my best to support her when she had to make incredibly hard choices, such as to leave her work with the Gorilla Foundation as a matter of principle, no matter how much she loved Coco. Was the situation as bad as Jane believed? Maybe yes – maybe no. But what was important was that here was a woman with the most impeccable integrity that she would give up a job she both loved and excelled at because she saw what was going on behind the magic curtain was in conflict with what went on in the public eye. In concept, most people would applaud that and think they’d do the same. In reality, such integrity is extremely rare, and is a trait I especially valued in her.

    Unlike Greg, Vikki, and others, I didn’t have the opportunity to spend much time or share such experiences with Jane during those exuberant years during college, working in L.A., or in Santa Fe. We kept in touch, mostly through her parents, as my own circumstances took me in a different direction. But over the last 15-20 years (starting when she first started at the Gorilla Foundation) and especially since she moved back to Cleveland the 2nd time, we would talk at least once a week (often for 2-3 hours!) and she’d show up at my doorstep every few weeks, and she’d always come by on Christmas day with the most thoughtful gifts. We’d talk about all kinds of subjects – from medical research, politics, literature, brainstorming on potential documentaries and comedies for TV or books for children, the courts, family, friends, music, our shared experiences working in Cleveland radio, dealing with musicians, starting our own country, and much, much more. In between such invigorating discussions (most of the time done with her laying on my bed while Don (my hubby) was left to sleep in a chair – G-d bless him!) there were many more hours spent with Janie crying or raging about one thing or another. I learned early on though that Janie didn’t want the kind of help I could give (such as explaining what was causing the sole of her shoes to sparkle or what the “blue thing” was in one of the hundreds of photos she took every day or how something her sister said was actually a good thing and not a sign of betrayal.) I realized that it was beyond Jane’s control and so I didn’t push reality onto her. After all, she was the one who taught me how to escape it!

    All I could do, all any of us could do, was to love Jane. And that we did and always will.

  8. Heartfelt thanks from my entire family for all the kind thoughts and beautiful memories that have been posted as a memorial to Jane. Special thanks to Leslie for making this virtual
    space available and for contacting so many people who I wouldn’t have been able to find
    on my own. I love all of you for loving Jane and for remembering her as the beautiful, vibrant, creative, passionate, woman whose memory will always be a blessing.

  9. There will be a memorial service for Jane Sunday, November 11th at 2:00 at Fairmount Temple. The family will be receiving immediately following the service. We will also be sitting at my home, 21299 S. Woodland Rd., Shaker Hts. on Monday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and on Tuesday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

  10. Janie was my best friend throughout our childhood and our bond remained in tact, though conversation became challenging in recent years. She will always be with me, and my love for her and the Abrams family will never change. This site has helped me fill in a lot of details of years apart, and I am grateful.

  11. Thank you again to all the dear friends who took the time to share their memories here. Please know that we gave a copy of this site to our rabbi who incorporated many of your thoughts and reminiscences into his eulogy. You helped to bring Jane to life, at least in
    memory, through your stories. Thank you so much.

  12. I’ve found her again too late in your remembrances. I’d lost track of her and my google searches from time to time had not brought me any closer until the anniversary of her death. Sad as I am to have missed out on her amazing life, I am pleased she did so much for so many. Our talks on the fire escape in 1971-72 at college were magical. About what? I don’t remember now. It was a lifetime ago.

  13. As I write this, through tear-filled eyes, I’m struggling with the unyielding truth that I am too late to find and rekindle my friendship with Jane after losing touch with her, I think when she moved back to Santa Fe after her first, very brief, stay there. I’m guessing it happened because she must’ve left again at about the same time that I moved from one place to another within L.A. Like Melissa who posted before me, I’ve searched for Jane via Google and, more recently facebook, a number of times over the years, but without success, or so I thought. I believed I’d found her on facebook about a year ago, when I finally joined, and sent a message to the “Jane Abrams”, sans photo, that had worked at Dick Clark and came from Ohio, but my inquiry was never answered. Now I know why, and I’d give anything not to. Even after I clicked onto this memorial page, I didn’t really believe it was her until I saw the photo. Damn it.
    I didn’t know Jane for as long as most of you, but she and I were close for a short period of time – two, three years, maybe. We shared political and artistic interests, a love of the natural world and animals, and I helped her through a beginner’s jewelry course while she took me on music-buying trips to the Warner’s (I think it was Warner’s) employee store. At a birthday dinner for me at a L.A. landmark Mexican “dive”, she, two other friends, and I came up with the idea of opening a Native American-based restaurant/cultural events site/arts studio/retail shop in L.A. It was a delicious, inspiring, and laugh-filled evening.
    I’m remembering Jane’s great smile and laugh, and her easy, positive energy as I recall the times we spent together, and I can’t quite make sense of the idea of her being gone. I vividly recall last time I saw or spoke to her – it was at a friend’s poetry reading in Hollywood, and she was so happy in her personal life – she was in love – that she literally bounded up the aisle towards me when she saw me, grinning and glowing.
    If it wouldn’t be too upsetting, I would appreciate it if someone would reply to this and explain what happened to Jane – how/why she journeyed on. I’m afraid your words have intimated without telling me, but it would be easier for me to put it away – not Jane herself, of course, but this one, nagging thought I’m having – if I had this information, whatever it is.
    Like all of you, I will remember and miss her for the rest of my life, and always consider myself lucky to have had her as my friend. Tomorrow I’ll go to Topanga and walk through the canyon, and describe the plants’ scents and colors to her. Make an offering of some kind. Thank you for this page.

    • Thank You Michele for contributing your memories to this page. Your plan to walk through Topanga Canyon describing the plants’ scents and colors to Jane’s spirit is perfect! It is exactly what she would love. As to what “happened to Jane”, the full answer is long and complicated and, in some aspects, unanswerable as only heaven knows. The short answer is that she suffered for years from deep depression that gradually grew into her becoming severely delusional and paranoid. Jane’s wonderful ability to communicate with wild birds and her empathy for the plight of others were signs of just how deeply sensitive Jane was and it eventually became too much for her to bear.

      Years ago when I had undergone some major surgery, I awoke from the anesthetic to see Jane sitting quietly by my side with a magic wand in her hand. I keep that wand by my bedside to this day, just as I keep Janie in my heart. She was one of a kind and I miss her terribly.

      If my response still leaves you questions, feel free to contact me directly via e-mail. (just click on the “contact me” button in the right-hand column.
      - Leslie

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