Just after Mom died, her friend, Diann Macbeth, wrote a remembrance of her based on decades of church service together, which my family has treasured ever since. I now share it in full:
Janet, My Friend
Occasionally someone enters our life so softly and gently that at first we scarcely notice they are there. Like a soft breeze on a hot summer day that cools and refreshes, they become balm for our frenzied lives, asking little but giving much. Janet was such a person. Our lives have crossed and crisscrossed for nearly 20 years. I was privileged to watch her work in the various church organizations to which she was called. She quietly did all that she was asked and a little bit more. Always desirous to learn from others she had no idea that she was also a great teacher of humility, love, and compassion. As she was never aggressive and was always content to stay in the background I could easily have missed her sweet and loving spirit, except one day I witnessed one of her truly beautiful smiles. It lit up her eyes and seemed to envelope me in such heartfelt warmth. I determined that I was foolish for having missed knowing her better and set about to rectify that. The Lord granted me my wish and we were called to work in the Young Womens together. I was in awe of the sensitivity and love she had towards the girls. She approached every lesson and assignment with 110 percent preparation and we were rewarded with not only that work, but also the inspiration from the Lord as He guided her in her desire to serve. She was one of my most cherished visiting teachers, and I delighted in the insights she gave to the monthly messages. Our children also extended our love towards each other as they interacted together. As a friend she was a real treasure—never judgmental or too busy for a word of praise or encouragement. My heart and soul will surely miss her presence as will so many others, but I know as sure as I breathe that someday we will get to exchange a loving embrace and be together again.
March 3, 2003
My mother, Janet Patricia Watson Hansen, was a beautiful person. She struggled in life—oh, how she struggled! At times, each day was a challenge, and she couldn’t even get out of bed. But she was a good person. She was kind. She habitually sacrificed her own welfare for the benefit of others. She was non-judgmental almost to a fault, going far out of her way to try to imagine how another’s seemingly ridiculous or outrageous behavior might actually make sense from their point of view.
Mom experienced life with an inward intensity that one would not suspect from her meek outward demeanor. She was highly sensitive and exposure to sights, smells, sounds, crowds, and other stimuli often overwhelmed her. The smallest slight could put her in tears. And yet the same sensitivity that made each day a struggle was also the source of her tenderness and kindness, her thoughtfulness, her love of animals, and so many of the sweet and wonderful things about her.
In some of the old family photos and videos, you can catch Mom with a sort of pained and haunted look in her eyes, as here:
In other photos, you can see that she’s happy. Demons at bay, she felt safe and free to love and to take joy in life, as here:
Mom suffered much, but she loved much. She needed much, but she gave much. She was, in her heart, just a sweet and peaceful girl from southern California who did the best she knew how to make the world a better place in spite of abuses suffered and a life that overwhelmed her. I wish things had been different. I wish she had found a better way past what haunted her. But she is gone, and this world that didn’t deserve her has been deprived of her gentle beauty these twelve years. I mourn her still.