Buried a(nother) phenomenal person yesterday.
A lifelong scholar and teacher (aka “Miz Amme”), an ever-present mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (aka “Mema”) and one of my personal role models, Jane Amme, departed last weekend, at the impressive age of 85 — but still long before her friends, colleagues, and family would have liked.
I identified with Jane because, like I did, she lived a significant portion of her life in a house of boys (she, first with her brother and then, with three sons and her husband, whereas I grew up with seven older brothers). Jane also was a great teacher, as I aspire to be.
I loved Jane for three reasons (besides her delicious food):
1. Jane was smart, perceptive, no-nonsense AND kind, a hard combo to come by. It meant that she knew just want to say to make you feel seen and engaged. It meant you enjoyed each and every conversation you had the chance to have with her. For me, she knew I loved Greece, so she made a point to talk to me about Greek food. The last recipe she asked me for was for zucchini fritters. She learned to pronounce name of the dish—kolokithokeftedes— because she really cared.
2. Relatedly, Mema loved my Matt Amme, deeply. This was clear from the first day I met her, back in 2015. We arrived for thanksgiving, and she had all the materials for cinnamon rolls set up, ready to roll w/ him, as they did every year. She had a whole batch of cookies, just for him, and stories upon stories to share, as well as meals to plan — for the next holiday. Her eyes truly shone every moment she had with him. She even DM-ed me to thank me each time I shared a photo of him on Facebook, as if I’d done it just for her.
By extension, she loved our puppy. She kept rotating photos of Pepper within her daily eyeshot, and I knoooow she sneaked her homemade roast pork when we introduced them.
3. Miz Amme took the personal side of her professional teaching seriously. With the tall order of teaching students at a major dental school (OU College of Dentistry), she couldn’t bring herself to retire until the impressive age of 81. What really impressed me is how she kept up with her students, even long after they graduated. She was thinking and talking about them constantly. Their challenges were her challenges, their successes, her own.
If I can live out even a portion of the grace and grit E. Jane Amme shared with us, I will have lived a full life.