Jane Ford Pearson is the most amazing woman I know! I will attempt, in a few paragraphs, to tell you why this WONDERFUL woman is my hero.
I first met her when I was in the fifth grade. Her son, Jim(my) was in my class when I transferred from Brownsboro Elementary School over to Central Middle School. But she wouldn't become an important person in my life until just a few years later....but that's for another time.
Many things stand out about "Miss Jane" to me. First, the professional stuff:
1) She taught elementary school for more than forty years, and her students actually 'learned' what was required of them. She was (and is) a lot of fun, but also very serious when it comes to the business of "learning.
2) She is tremendously accomplished. She taught Home Economics early in her career...she played the violin in the Auburn University Orchestra, and she still has a great love for music.
The personal stuff:
1) Everything I know about class and style, I learned sitting at her kitchen table. She taught me how to properly fold a napkin, and how to properly place the table settings. I learned how to 'steam vegetables' (where they were edible, but not mushy), and to make a good glass of "sweet tea." I learned how to properly iron a table cloth, and how to select flowers for a center piece.
2) Since we didn't have a car (my grandmother couldn't drive), Miss Jane made sure that if we ever needed anything that she was available. I would often walk the mile down our country road just to spend time at the Pearsons. My Grandmother Hoover knew that if I were at "Miss Jane's" that I was in good hands, and no-risk of ever getting into trouble. That was more certain than the sun going down in the West.
3) When I was a senior in High School, Jane Pearson convinced me that I was smart enough to go to college, and that she WOULD NOT let me "not go to college." She helped me fill out all the admissions packet materials, and constantly encouraged me. She made sure that I had plenty of clothes to take to school with me when I left for college more than 29 years ago. I felt like a 'rich man' when I arrived in Cleveland, TN for my freshman year of college!
4) When my precious Grandmother Hoover died in May 1992, "Miss Jane" was there by my side through the whole weekend. I would have never made it through this "loss" without her. She came to the funeral home, stood by me, and took my hand to let me know I was not alone. The next morning, she came to the funeral, and sat near me...I'll always remember that. That Friday evening, I was at her home and we had pizza for dinner...we talked about my Grandmother Hoover, and what a special lady she was...and that night "Miss Jane" became the "greatest living woman" in my life....without even knowing it.
5) Now she is a bit older (late 70s) and is beginning to experience some dementia...but she still has a wonderful sense of humor, and still calls to 'check on me' regularly. She reminds me that I always have a "place at her table" and a "bed at her house."
I could write BOOKS about this wonderful, wonderful woman. She's my hero!