Last dance with Mary Jane

My mother in-law, Grandma Mary Jane, has always been tall. I like to think it’s because she’s risen to every occasion in her life.

Believing reciprocal love a matter of course, Mary Jane has gracefully navigated 85 years with wit, faith and a well -known fondness for fresh blueberries and V8.

With her husband Vince, she liked to raise a glass of champagne to mark significant events, like weddings, baptisms and Scrabble championships.  After Vince’s untimely death in 2008, Mary Jane capped an exhausting 48 hours of visitations, funeral, and burial services by calling the family into the living room for a champagne toast to their beloved patriarch.

She raised nine children who owe their innate kindness to both good genes and gentle breeding.  Last week, faced with drastically declining health and the unwelcome prospect of more surgery, Grandma Mary Jane decided, in consultation with her family and doctors, to enter hospice care.

We steeled ourselves to weep as we visited her on Saturday. But, in an inspired burst of energy, she raised her German chin, flashed her Irish wink and entertained us for a while.

At one point her daughter leaned in close and spoke slowly and clearly to her mother.

“You know, Nancy,” the Outlaw Mary Jane said. “There’s nothing wrong with my hearing.”

We got a good laugh out of that one. Since then, Mary Jane has spent her days sleeping under the watchful eye of visiting family members and experienced hospice nurses (one of whom, to our everlasting gratitude, is both.)

She roused herself to join a precious sing along with three of her grandchildren, and to Facetime others. And, she thoroughly enjoyed an Anointing of the Sick blessing from her friend, Father Jim. “I had nothing to confess,” she chuckled proudly.

The genuine blessing of this transitional time is the ability to say the things we feel without constraint. So, I’m taking a moment to offer my sincere gratitude to a most loyal supporter of the MollyBandMe blog.

“Did I make the blog?” she asks periodically when I see her. Some of our best posts have featured her.

I’m wrapping up this one with a message to the Outlaw Mary Jane:

We love you. We respect you. And we’re infinitely proud to be members of your brood.

God bless you, Grandma Mary Jane.


This is one of my favorite recent-ish picture of Grandma Mary Jane. Love the Irish grin and the funky hat.

Donna, Joan, Vince, Carol, Sharon, Mom,and Elaine
This picture of Mary Jane and two-thirds of her kids cracks me up and begs the question: What is in those glasses? My guess? Ovaltine.
Grandma MJ dancing with Vince 2012
It’s blurry and unfocused, but I just love this picture of Mary Jane dancing with Vince in 2012.
Grandma MJ pyramid
As I’ve said before, this wacky picture is the only time you’ll ever see my mother in-law on my back. She sets a high standard in mother in-laws.
Mary Jane and the kids
Last year Grandma Mary Jane came to Appleton for an exciting performance of Mary Poppins. She thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Raymond, young Ray and Mary Jane Bauer
A meticulously maintained baby book kept with care by her father Ray Bauer hints at the love Mary Jane felt from the day she was born.
Gorgeous, am I right?
Vince and Mary Jane wedding
They toasted their wedding and every day after.
Whole family
Here she is with the whole gang at a family reunion in 2013 — Nine children, various in-laws and 13 grandchildren.


11 thoughts on “Last dance with Mary Jane

  1. Thank you for sharing this! (I sure wish she lived closer, I’ll bet we would have been great pals.) I really love how loved she is! I pray she knows this fact to the marrow of her bones: she is adored and honored by many.

  2. I just visited with your mother-in-law and my dear friend today. Thank you for this lovely bit of Mary Jane’s history – she is one amazing lady! Our writing group, The Ma’amuscripts, will miss her so. We were so fortunate to have her in our lives.(Carol told me about your blog and I shared it with our group . . .) Many thanks, Eileen Meyer

    1. Thanks for your visits – to this blog and to Grandma Mary Jane. Ma’amuscripts is a very clever name and I know Mary Jane loved being part of her writer’s group.
      She gave me an “I’d rather be reading” T-shirt that I treasure.

  3. I was part of Mary Jane’s OTHER writing group–the SWLs. (That’s the Sexy Writer Ladies.) I visited MJ this week with two other writers and it was so wonderful to see her laughing and smiling. She is such an inspiration to me and always will be.

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