Jane L. Gummel
Making new friends in middle age is very rare. Then again, Jane and I were very rare, ourselves. Back in the early 1990s, women real estate appraisers were few and far between. In
, women real estate appraisers were even fewer and farther. Maybe that is why Jane and I hit it off. Cape May County
Another reason we became such friends, I think, is that Jane wore as many hats as I did. True, they were different hats. In addition to appraising, Jane was a mom and grandmom, a horsewoman, and a 4-H volunteer. I was a dog mom, a writer, and a Doo Wop tour volunteer. But when it came to Wildwood, animals, and real estate, our hats often complemented each other.
For one thing, Jane was probably the only person who was actually interested when I talked about appraising. And, though she wasn’t officially a “native,” Jane had been in
long enough to know all the players in all the latest gossip. She could be counted on to tell me whom to date and, more importantly, whom NOT to date. Jane also introduced me to out-of-the-way delights like Dionysus Restaurant in Woodbine and Jim’s Lunch in Cape May County . She was one of just a handful of people who understood why all I wanted for my birthday was Sam’s pizza, Kohr Bros. custard, and a ride on the tram car on the Boardwalk…from end to end. Millville
And in that weird way that life works, it was Jane’s tenacious battle with cancer that brought us closer. Oh, she had licked the Big C in the mid-90s, though the awful disease changed her life for good. And she almost licked it again, a few years ago, when chemo and radiation kept those malignant cells at bay. But cancer never let go of her completely. Maybe that’s why I – and Jane’s multitude of other friends – decided to hold on even tighter.
In the last few months, driving her to doctors’ appointments or taking her to lunch at the Star Diner when she could go out or taking her vanilla milkshakes from McDonald’s when she could no longer go anywhere, I learned more about Jane – and she about me – than I had in the almost 20 years before. Family, trauma, drama, joy – as time ran down, we had fewer and fewer secrets. And, until the very last, we could still laugh.
I hesitated about using the photo I selected for this post. I can almost hear Jane protesting from above. But this photo was taken by Pat Nagel, the third member of our 20-year triumvirate, in Chuck Schumann’s Big Blue Sightseer, on
, in the middle of the summer. And we are both laughing. All of Jane's favorite things. Sunset Lake
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the true friend that Jane truly was.