The Gift of the Storyteller!
By: Anna Fiemeyer
When I was just 4-years old my sister Jane died of A.L.L ( Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.) I don't remember anything from that time other than the stories people have told me. People telling me stories about Jane is what has always kept me close to her. I HATE that I don't actually remember Jane like other people do. That also means I don't know the pain she suffered through, but I also don't remember the joy we had together. People have told me a ton of stories and I will be forever grateful. These are some of my favorites stories ... It was Christmas of 2011. Jane was in the hospital and Katie and I came up to see and spend Christmas with her. We wanted to decorate for Christmas because it's our tradition to have a decorated tree. Because we are so creative and crafty, mom told me that we decided on making a paper Christmas tree we taped up on the wall. We decorated it with paper ornaments and a homemade star. On Christmas morning we woke up with our Christmas presents magically under the tree.
My mom told me that most of the presents came from people who donated them. We call them “Hospital Angels”. While we were all sleeping in the room, “Santa” (AKA the nurses) brought in the presents and nobody woke up, not even Jane or my mom. With the stories I know, I sadly don't know the bigger picture for most of them. Like, what else did we do on that Christmas day? Did we stay in the hospital room all day and watch TV, did we go to the craft room and spend hours there or did we go for a walk around the hospital? I have thought about these things and have made up alternate endings because I can’t remember what happened and I always want my stories to have an ending. It's something I do for fun on days when I’m thinking about Jane. I love coming up with endings because it helps me understand and imagine that I know what happened when Jane was alive. Another story I know about Jane is that when Jane was sick I would sometimes stay in the hospital with her. My sister Katie tells me that a nurse would come and take me on a walk/rides in the mornings. I would ride a little tricycle and the nurse would walk through the halls with me. I don't really remember the story anymore than that. But mom and Katie tell me that I enjoyed it. Mom also tells me stories about Ross the Rat. Jane loved her remote control rat named Ross. Jane liked to scare her nurses with Ross. She would hide Ross under her bed and when a nurse would come in, Jane would use the remote control to have Ross come out from under her bed and scare the nurses. I recently learned that my mom took Jane on an outing to Toys-R-Us. Jane picked out a remote controlled Rat, which was against mom's wishes, but Jane got her way anyways. I think it's funny that mom quickly learned that Ross was a good strategy to get Jane to go on her daily walks to strengthen the muscles in her legs. Another story people have told me was from when I was probably 4 years old, the summer before she died. When Jane, Katie and I went up to our Grandma and Grandpa’s cabin in Pine River, we were playing out on the deck with umbrellas dancing in the rain. I like this story because I still like dancing in the rain with umbrellas and now when I dance in the rain I think about Jane and this story. Mom tells me and I can see through the pictures that Jane would have so much fun when classmates and other friends and family would come and visit her at the hospital and at home. Jane loved seeing people and talking to different people when she was in the hospital. Jane was very social and you can tell she liked people through the stories people would tell and all the smiles in the photo’s.
Katie and mom also tell me Jane loved Justice. Justice is a store with clothes and cute little knick knacks. When Jane passed away we still went to Justice in memory of her and mom would let us get something. Two years ago I got my ears pierced at Justice on Jane’s Angelversary. I love that I got my ears pierced at Justice on Jane’s Angelversary. We tell stories when we wear Jane’s clothes. We have kept some of Jane's clothes she would wear a lot. A bunch of Jane’s clothes were hand-me-downs that we kept really good care of and after they didn’t fit us we would put them in a tote full of Jane’s Clothes. I like looking back on pictures and seeing clothes that we have of Jane’s.
One of her favorite things to do in the craft room was make duct taped wallets (and she also made a few duct taped purses). I still make duct taped wallets in memory of Jane. People would come to the hospital to learn how to make duct taped wallets from Jane. Jane sold the duct taped wallets to make money to find a cure for Childhood Cancer. We still have duct taped flowers that Laura Kiser and Nikki Schumacher made for Jane’s Funeral. Every time I see duct tape in a store I think of Jane and her duct taped wallets. A story mom tells ALL THE TIME is about Jane’s last art project. The last thing Jane did before she left the hospital was go to the art room and create her last painting. Jane made the ambulance wait because she wasn’t about to leave without finishing her last painting. Jane and I have something in common: Our determination. Jane’s last painting was of two roses. One was a healthy rose standing up and one rose was bending over dying. We still have the painting and its sitting in her memory dresser, safe and sound. I know all this because of storytellers. Thank you to everyone who has told me stories! I have wanted to keep up Jane’s legacy by making crafts. I have been making crafts for about three years. I sell them at the Princess Warrior 5K Run, Walk, Roll, Stroll or Crawl. For the first two years, I sold Button Bookmarks, then last year I made cancer ribbon keychains. Once we got enough money, we went and bought a bunch of arts and crafts supplies from Hometown Crafts in Wadena. We were able to get even more because Cindy McCullough was super generous. The best part was that my family and I were able to deliver the arts and crafts supplies to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. I don’t like not knowing something, especially not knowing or remembering my sister Jane!! Storytellers have changed my life in a way you will never understand. I wish I could remember Jane and some of the moments we have had, but since I can't I’m so glad that people I know who can remember Jane tell me stories. Stories that help me understand those first four years of my life which I lived with Jane before she died. When I read the other blogs or hear people talk about Jane it makes me sad sometimes, because I just think about how I don't remember much about her. But I will always be grateful and thankful for people who have told me stories about Jane and about our family from when I was younger. Thank you for reading my blog. Please make sure you go and read some of the other blogs if you haven't already.
Anna Fiemeyer is Jane’s youngest sister. Anna is 13-years-old and will be an 8th grader at Wadena-Deer Creek next fall. Anna loves to play tennis, basketball and softball. She looks forward to creating and selling a new craft at this year's Princess Warrior 5K in September to continue raising money for Childhood Cancer awareness and to keep Jane’s legacy alive.