We asked Jan, who we featured as a ‘Fabwoman’ to explain more about how her poetry has touched lives
When I first set up Perfect Verse someone asked me “How on earth are you going to make money? It will NEVER work.”
A good question – albeit combined with a somewhat negative view. But even I am amazed at how versatile poetry can be; since that time I’ve written Best Man Speeches, Father of the Bride Verse, and even promotional verse for businesses.
But the Perfect Verses which mean the most to me are the ones which bring people together. For example, I’ve helped a sister breach a gap with her brother after an argument; I’ve helped someone thank their step-mum for stepping in and bringing her up from the age of three, and I’ve helped re-unite a family shattered by divorce.
The divorce case history was particularly poignant..
A year ago, just before Christmas, I received a phone call from Sue; 50 years old, and divorced for a year. Sue was on great terms with her ex husband Dave; both parties happily having moved on to new partners. But when it came to her extended family, it wasn’t quite so straightforward. Sue’s ex-inlaws didn’t know how to relate to Sue any more and completely ‘withdrew’ from her. She was excluded from family occasions whilst they continued to see her children.Suddenly she was without the family – and the love - that she’d cherished for the previous thirty five years. She’d had a great relationship with her mother in law and really missed seeing her nieces and nephews growing up.
“Jan, can you help?” she asked. “They’re still my family but I can’t find the words I need. I want to tell them that I love them and miss them; my feelings are no different just because Dave and I are apart.
The talk we had lasted for an hour and Sue spoke of her sorrow. Her pain was tangible. I reviewed my notes and set to work. This is what I wrote:
A letter to ‘Mum’
These words are written from my heart and sent with love today,
As this time of year is special Mum; there’s much I’d like to say,
For thirty five long years, you were a huge part of my life,
You welcomed me with so much love, when I became Dave’s wife,
Memories which I hold so dear; remain, indeed, so strong,
Our early years were wonderful, in those days, nothing wrong,
I remember family Christmases, with stockings every year,
We were adamant we wouldn’t let that habit disappear,
Your ways are quite ingrained in me; I’ve made it such a mission,
To follow in your footsteps and keep all of your traditions,
To visit you for Sunday lunch was always such a treat,
Times were more straightforward then, days all seemed so complete,
But life can sometimes be so cruel; it really made its mark,
When we learned that Ian had lost his life, whilst serving in Iraq,
The sun went down for all of us in just one dreadful day,
And for Anne, such terrible tragedy, a baby, weeks away,
But this family stands together, compassionate and true,
You’ve supported Anne so beautifully; you always helped her through,
I know you were distraught when Dave and I went separate ways
But we’d struggled for so long; we’d had so many troubled days,
Separation isn’t easy; it brings deep abiding pain,
For us, it was the best thing, there was no-one else to blame,
I still care for him so deeply, and this, I hope you know,
But in order to be happy, we had to let each other go,
I know that Dave is settled now; his smile is back once more,
But I’ve struggled with this ‘moving on’ it’s hard to close a door,
I miss Sophie, Chris and Alistair, much more than you could know,
I used to love to see them, loved to watch them play and grow,
Such very precious memories mean I often sit and dwell,
And Mum, I need to tell you, that I’m missing you as well,
I miss your loving laughter; miss your gorgeous sunny smile
I miss your loving hugs Mum; and I have done, for a while,
Time is very precious; it often marches on too fast,
And a gulf sometimes appears, becomes too deep, too wide too vast,
Can we ensure that doesn’t happen, even though we’re now apart?
‘Cos Mum, you’re still a part of me, tucked deep within my heart,
You’re Grandma to my children, that’s a thing we’ll always share,
And I need to let you know, this year, how very much I care,
And I hope these special words today will truly help you see,
That whatever might have been and gone, you’ll still be ‘Mum’ to me.
©Jan Jack 2010
Sue cried when I read her Perfect Verse to her, and I have to confess, so did I. She said she would put it in ‘Mum’s’ Christmas card. A few days after Christmas, Sue phoned me. “I’ve had a phone call from Mum. She’s invited me to lunch. Jan, I don’t know what to say. I just can’t thank you enough.”
Is there ever a more satisfying job?
Jan Jack was a secretary for 32 years; eventually turning her back on office life to embrace stand up comedy and poetry. She is now a full time poet, comedian and speaker, and the promoter of Basingstoke’s Comedy Club Laughter-House. She lives in Basingstoke with her husband Alastair. You can learn more about Jan and her poetry at www.perfectverse.co.uk
Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono