Janice Marie Coleman


Janice Marie Coleman

Janice Marie Coleman

Hello everyone! Thank you for coming. I know how moved my mom would be seeing how much she was loved and the number of people whose lives she had touched in one way or another… She would probably cry, but it would be a good cry.

Before my mom passed away we were lucky enough to have sat down with her and she told us about her life.

So, I’m lucky to be able to say this eulogy has been a group effort between Don, me, my siblings, my mom’s siblings, and my mom!

I will start by giving you some of my mom’s history that you may or may not know already.

My mom was born on February 12, 1948, in Mitchell, South Dakota. (Where the corn palace is, as she would say…)

She “started” her childhood in Mt. Vernon, South Dakota where they had an outhouse and no indoor plumbing!
One fun fact about that time in her life… Around 4 years old my mom had a bump on her head that ended up being a blood clot. Luckily it drained in her face and not in her brain… but she said when they went to pick up her siblings from school; everyone was looking in the car to get a look at the kid with the big bump and bruising!

She said she wished her parents had taken a picture of it! You know this is true, because we have tons of pictures of grandma and grandpa with bumps and bruises, and when our kids were hurt, or had any sort of medical event take place, if she could be there to capture the memory-she was. If not, she would always be sure to remind us to do it.
In 3rd grade my mom and her family moved to Canton, South Dakota. When she started school there, she discovered her classmates had already learned how to write in cursive and she had not. So she ended up having to teach herself. Which she says is why she has excellent hand-writing because she was picky about it. In school, our mom was in the choir, she was a cheerleader, and her senior year she was editor of their yearbook. She was, as she put it “a big, big fish in a very tiny pond” and she loved her middle school and high school years.
College was a little different. Having always lived in small towns, going to college was a big change for her. She was a very tiny fish in a huge pond. Both figuratively and literally. My mom told us her goal was to weigh at least 100 lbs when she graduated from High School… apparently she did NOT meet that goal.
She actually didn’t plan on going to college because her parents couldn’t afford to pay the application fee. A family friend took my mom with them when they were dropping their son off at college and talked to the financial aid director, which was their brother-in-law. He talked with my mom; and the next week, she was packed up and starting college!

There were a lot of other stories she told us about her college years, but we’ll save those for another time.

While my mom was in college, her parents and some of her siblings had moved to Arizona…so after college, my mom moved to Arizona too.

While she lived there, she got a job at the local power company, met and married Nick, and had 3 amazing children (you might know them as Kim, Kelly, and JJ/Jeremy). Obviously, the marriage didn’t work out; but that’s okay because it opened up the next great chapter of her life…
My mom had decided to go back to college. She registered and took an accounting class at Glendale Community college and her Instructor was Don!! When he heard that she wasn’t married, he asked her out. On their first date, they went to an ASU football game.  After that, they saw each other every day… and on March 13, 1982 they got married…. Over the next 3 years our little family was blessed two more times when Jeff and Jonny were born. We stayed in Arizona until 1987 when mom, Don, and us 5 perfectly behaved children moved to Washington.
Growing up, we always had something going on. Between sporting events, music lessons, police station pick-ups, or whatever mom was always “on the go”. Somehow, she always managed to work out a schedule to ensure we were all at our practices, games, school events, or anything else we had. I don’t ever remember missing out on anything.
The older we got, the harder it got for mom and Don. Talk about the Devil being at work!! I know a lot of you (if not all of you) know what I’m talking about. My mom was not afraid to share her story; or would it be our story?? I don’t know. I do know her openness and transparency was really one of the best things about her.
Having my mom, as my mom was awesome.  She was witty, silly, kind, sincere, forgiving (ALWAYS FORGIVING)… and all those other words you’ll see in the pamphlet.

Between comments on Facebook and conversations with friend and family, I think these are the things we will remember most about her…

  • First, she had a servant’s heart. She was a leader in many Bible Study groups throughout her life. Her most recent role was to be the core leader for the new mom’s group at a Community Bible Study (CBS). Mom loved making baby blankets for her new moms. She would pick out fabric for each new baby. She would deliver the blankets, spend time with the new born babies—loving on each one.

She brought each of her grandkids to CBS until they went into Kindergarten. She loved making sure the kids knew how much the Lord loved each of them and played a huge part in starting their personal relationships with Christ.

  • Her sense of humor and smile. She loved to laugh—whether it was telling a funny joke or just enjoying the humor of a particular moment.
    • Cheryl shared with me one of her favorite memories… Cheryl was in class and everyone was introducing themselves. When Cheryl said her name, everyone looked at her confused… mom had swapped their name badges without Cheryl noticing. She said she looked over and mom was just GIGGLING! (She was so sneaky)
    • Through the stormiest of days, she could find the strength to smile; including her last day with us.
  • Her effortless way of making sure everyone was having fun and being included.
    • Both Brenda and Peggy talked about spending time with my mom…
    • When my mom lived in AZ, her sisters Brenda and Rhonda would go over and spend the night at her house, go in the swimming pool, and just spend time with her. Brenda said she was always able to tell my mom anything without my mom judging her.
    • Peggy talked about going over and dancing in the living room. She said it was always so much more fun to be over there, just hanging out.
  • My mom really did have this almost natural way of getting people involved and get everyone in a silly mood.
  • If you were sitting alone, a stranger on a plane or in line at the grocery store, you’d be greeted with a friendly hello and an instant friendship due to the easy way she was able to talk to people, and make them feel comfortable.
    • On more than one occasion she had made a new friend on flights (as in, they eventually exchanged numbers) and knew the life story of the person who shared the seat next to her. She would be so excited and would always tell us about it. She really liked to witness.
  • She was always hospitable. If you showed up at her home, you were invited in. Numerous times people found a place to rest and eat while laughing, sharing memories, and developing a “forever friendship” with my mom.
  • She had impenetrable strength. Whether it was dealing with rebellious kids, the loss of her eldest son, or her fight with cancer—she never gave up hope, she never turned her back on Christ, and she always believed there would be joy, hope, and peace at the end—and there was.
  • And of course, how amazing of a mom and grandma she was. My mom loved us, but her grandkids were her life. There wasn’t a day in any of our lives we didn’t know or had to question, that our mom loved us. If one of us kids was “in trouble” or needed a little extra help; she would drop what she was doing and make sure we were safe. Her grandkids were often the “photo of the day”—she loved taking their pictures and showing them off.

I wanted to share two more stories that were shared with me by my aunts Rhonda and Audrey. One of Rhonda’s favorite memories was when my mom lived in AZ; they was on a bowling league together with Aunt Brenda and Don. They were put on a team w/ an older gentleman. When they started out they were in last place, but somehow they made their way up to first!

They didn’t finish in first, but that along w/ making the tradition of having lasagna at Christmas was Rhonda’s favorite memory.

(That is a great tradition and I think that’ll be one of Jeremy’s favorite memories too. He loves lasagna at Christmas.)

I’m going to quote what my aunt Audrey shared with me… “Jan was 4 years younger than me and was my first little sister.  She is the one who held the same memories as mine… growing up in South Dakota on the farm.  We slept in the same bed as little girls, she was my baby doll.  The wonderful thing about growing up is that the years between disappeared and we became the best of friends.  Our love for the Lord, for each other and our families bound us together.  Circumstances were such that we never lived close to each other but Jan was always available for a quick chat or a lengthy catch up call.  Distance was never a deterrent.  Times with Jan, whether on the phone or in person, always resulted in many laughs.   When I visited in Seattle she had an itinerary ready for our adventures….  She and Cheryl were the BEST ever tour guides.  Needless to say there is a hole in my heart now with her absence here on earth, but I am rejoicing that she is with our Loving Savior, Jesus, and I will join her again some day.”
No matter the season we were in; my mom loved us with her whole being.  As I grew into an adult she became my best friend. She showed me what love is, what friendship is, what faith is, and what being a great mom is. She taught me how to be a better person, to be respectful, and kind. She passed on her sense of humor and love of pizza; although she could’ve kept the love of pizza one to herself. She showed me what it meant to unconditionally love someone, to not pass judgement, to be willing to share your defects to help bring encouragement and joy to others. My mom instilled in me a love for Christ, even during times I don’t agree with his plan and wish it was different. I will miss my mom, every day… but will always remember her because of these things and because of all of you.

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