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Missing Janie Stapleton

Dear Editor:

The thing that must be said here is that the world is a lesser place, certainly my world is a lesser place, without Janie Stapleton in it. She was a whirlwind of energy, and she cared. Let that lie a moment. The woman cared. One of God’s children who cared about those around her more than she cared about herself.

She provided a platform for me to be. By that I mean she came home in the evening with stories from the hotel, the hotel being of course The Little Nell. They were stories that I loved to hear and sometimes used in my work. They weren’t often crazy things like when the elevators wouldn’t work because a couple were in there making love on mink coats. Mostly they were everyday encounters with people she found irresistible.

That was the fullness of Janie Stapleton. She found the trivia of the hotel incredibly interesting. And of course I found her incredible and irresistible. The one thing above all else I believe was her temper. She flashed hot and wild. But then she would quit. She would be furious about something at work or on the news for a minute and then she would let it go. I let things stew and rattle through me. Hell, I was mad at Nixon for 10 years. Janie never stayed mad at Reagan even though he pissed her off at every turn. And she thought Margaret Thatcher was a pip even though she thought her policies were a disgrace. So who could tell. She was mercurial, but with such good humor that she was irresistible.

My young son is a good example of the effect Janie had on people. When he came on his summer visits, he was shy and standoffish. He turned his head when introduced to people as if they had a smell or he didn’t like their closeness.

But Janie had him in a day. Many times I would read to Janie. What I was currently writing or from books I loved or thought she would love. After only an afternoon when she’d seen him to his room, when we’d had a simple dinner, Janie suggested that I read something. I thought he would like Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass.” I was amazed to see young Jackson snuggle into Janie’s arms. I read for a long while watching from the corner of my eye as his chin lay against her shoulder and the rest of him burrowed into her. There was a peace there that is acknowledged and is like no other. It is of a woman at her best. Child to mother, even if they were unrelated.

When I first met Janie and we were vastly in love, she was a bit refrained. I liked to run around naked. She was demure. She said at one moment in my arms: I’m a bird without feathers.

She wasn’t. She was always a woman in full bloom.

I’ll miss her till I die.

Peter Elliott

Austin, Texas


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