Art garden: Lincoln City, Oregon, 2003; Blue Brothers: Hwy 99, Oregon, 2003; 143: Hwy 101,
Newport, Oregon, 2005; Friends of Jan's: Tigard, Oregon, 2007
Editor: When my dear sister Jan passed away, several of us poked through our photo albums
to send to her husband and kids, in case they wanted to include any in the slide show at
her memorial. I included one of her phooning. I had low expectations that it would appear
in the slideshow. I mean, how honoring of a photo is that, anyway, her in front of a big
ship? What would be the point of showing it, I asked myself. I liked that it showed her in
good strength; I figured it might remotely be considered as one of those "lighter moment"
shots that is nice to see in a memorial slideshow.
I actually was surprised to see that the family had included it in the slideshow. When it
appeared, I heard quiet chuckles from perhaps five people in the audience. Several photos
later, Jan was seen doing the same pose by the big blue art thing. About fifteen people
chuckled this time. A little while later, we saw her doing that same pose with some Blues
Brothers statues. Chuckles were heard across the audience. Many slides later, the series
of "143" photos appeared. This time, we saw Dan joining Jan in this odd pose. The audience
The slideshow continued and eventually came to a moving end. It was an emotional journey.
And then the minister did something that only the loving minister could have gotten away
with, with a brilliant sensitivity to the moment: he said that he thought we should all
stand up and phoon, framing it as a playful, respectful thing we should do to celebrate
her life. Laughter spread across the room of heavy hearts as everyone hopped up. I met
eyes with a few family members who shared my amazement at what was unfolding. I scrambled
to turn on my camera and ran onto the stage to capture the unsacred-yet-sacred moment as
best I could in my emotional state. The audience chattered and smiled as they settled back
into their seats.
What do you say or think in a moment like this? How can I even show this photo and have it
be respectful of that day and of my sister's life? And how could I not capture that moment
and show it somehow? I think many of us understood these complexities in that moment.
The minister spoke about Jan's life. Along the way, he mentioned a detail from the
beginning of Jan's and Dan's relationship, helping the audience make sense of the hidden
message in three of the photos: "It wasn't until the end of the school year when Dan and
Jan began to date. Then, nearly a year later, on March 4, 1972, Dan first told Jan those
three words they would share the rest of Jan's life...'I love you!' I'm told they would
speak code language '1-4-3' to express their love: 1 = I, 4 = love, 3 = you!'" Yep, I
enjoyed hearing stories over the years of the inventive new ways that Dan would sneak 143
into a conversation or create a visual "143" somewhere for her to discover.
About those Phoon photos in the slideshow. The one with her and the ship was the only one
I had seen before. The vase, the Blues Brothers, 143--all new for me to discover after Jan
was gone. What an emotional ride that was for me to see them then (and, certainly, to
package them to present to you now, on her behalf). My favorite of the bunch is the 143
series, Phoon or no Phoon. I love the reminder of the beauty that I got to see, the
growing love and care shown by my brother-in-law for my sister. Thank you, Dan. You did oh
Sure miss ya, Jan.
Thanks to Jan, Dan and unknown for phooning and to Jan for the photo idea.
Nov 12, 2007
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