On Jan 3, just before sunset in Seattle, I lost my No. 1 fan. There will come a time when I find the words to convey to a general audience who my mother was and what she meant to me, but for now I ask you to accept this abbreviated column as a concession that this is one of those embarrassing times when words fail a writer.
I did a decent job of eulogizing her two days after she drew her last breath at age 79, but that doesn’t really count. Most of the two dozen people who attended the funeral knew my mother and loved her, and they understood what it meant to be swept up in The Jeanette Kramer Experience. You are at a disadvantage that way.
All I can tell you is you would not soon forget Jeanette even if you had met her just once. She was a tornado of contrasting life forces swirling into every room she entered. Childlike yet wise. Caring yet self-absorbed. Vulnerable yet tough-minded. A charmer whose self-effacing manner and schoolgirl voice belied vast reserves of strength and stubbornness.
Her life bubbled with these wonderful ironies but there was nothing wonderful about the irony that claimed her. A non-drinker who took meticulous care of herself, she was diagnosed in November with late-stage liver failure, perhaps brought on by an auto-immune disorder that was slowly eroding her boundless vitality. It doesn’t seem possible she is gone.
So yes, sometime down the road, I plan to round out the portrait for you, to supply the appropriate journalistic mix of anecodotes sweet and sad, and leave a fitting record of who Jeanette was. I’m confident you will enjoy her, but there’s no concealing my selfishness here. My mother’s story is a story I need to tell to help me come to terms with my loss. There’s just a lot to process. I’ll need some time.