The Eulogy for Ann Florence Jacobsen
Ann Florence Jacobsen was born and raised in Newark. She had two brothers, George and Bobby. Her mother was a good cook and always made Christmas very special. She enjoyed trips to the beach where she fished with her Dad, and did crabbing. Ann’s lifelong fondness for pets began in that home; she had a dog named Poochie and a rather ornery Siamese cat.
Georgia remembers that when she was a child growing up, her mother stood out among other mothers as being “cool,” a little crazy, a free spirit with the capacity to make everybody laugh. She threw great birthday parties, and all of Georgia’s friends loved her. When you got her going, there was no stopping her.
Ann had a lively imagination, and enjoyed playing tricks. When Georgia was five years old, Georgia was told by Joey Michette that if you took eggs and placed them by the heater, eventually they would hatch, so she took two eggs out of the refrigerator and did exactly that. Her mother didn’t want Georgia to be disappointed, nor the eggs to go rotten, and so she went out and bought her daughter two gerbils and placed them by the heater beside some cracked egg shells, convincing Georgia that the gerbils had in fact come out of the shells. In time those gerbils had babies, and so they had gerbils for some time to come.
At some point later on Ann fooled her daughter with a box she was holding. She invited Georgia to look inside, telling her the box contained an invisible turtle. Apparently there was some kind of trick by which leaves in the box moved suggesting the presence of the unseen turtle. Georgia was utterly convinced and enthralled by idea of the invisible turtle and was willing to fork over all the cash she owned to buy the mysterious creature.
Although she enjoyed having a good time, Ann also had a clear sense of right and wrong, and she’d keep her eye on her daughter, and if she thought Georgia wasn’t doing right, she’d call her out on it.
Ann gave good advice. She was responsible for helping Georgia’s cousin Alfred and his girlfriend Patricia figure out that they really were intended for each other and should get married, and the marriage has happily lasted to this day.
She loved her son-in-law, Tommy and she was really happy when her grandson Michael was born. She spoiled him like crazy, showering with presents at Christmas and at other times.
Ann worked at Troy Hills Center Nursing home for many years, where she enjoyed talking to all the residents and cheering them up when they were felling blue. Later she found the same kind of work at Barn Hill Nursing Home in Newton.
Ann also looked after her father in his old age, making it possible for him to live on his own in his home until his death in 2010 at the age of 96. She would travel to Lake Hopatcong on the weekends to do his shopping and cleaning for him.
Ann found the love of her life when she met Francis. He thought she had beautiful eyes. Thirty-four years ago Ann and Francis moved from South Orange to Parsippany, which is where they got married in the office of the Methodist pastor of the Parsippany Church, which happens to be my office now. As Francis put it, there wasn’t a bad year of marriage in all their years together. They were very happy together.
In the early years of their marriage Ann and Francis loved to travel to Belmont and Aqueduct to bet on the races. They made one trip to Florida to see the sights. But as time passed, they were content just to stay home.
Ann kept a little garden where she grew tomatoes, and tended to her house plants
She also loved to read, which she did every day. She could consume a 300 page book in a day. She loved romances, mysteries and books that made her laugh. Ann and Francis enjoyed playing cards together, and watching TV, and rooting for their football teams. Ann was a Giants fan, and Francis cheered for the Jets.
The great passion that Ann and Francis shared was their love of animals, and they had several over the years. There was “Girlfriend” the cat, who actually was a boy, and lots and lots of dogs. There was Skipper, and Sammy, and Puggy, and Freckles, and Alison, and TJ, and Troy who Ann got from Troy Hills Center when his days as a therapy dog were done.
But for the last ten years, there has been one very special dog who won their hearts, a beautiful, American Eskimo named Eskie. Ann, Francis and Eskie were an inseparable threesome. Wherever Francis and Ann went, Eskie went as well. Ann was sensitive to the dog’s particular likes and dislikes in food, discovering over time that Eskie loved asparagus, spinach, peas, cauliflower, but did not care for carrots. And Eskie took particular delight in watermelon. And so everyday at 3 p.m. received a snack of slices of watermelon.
Fifteen years ago Ann and Francis were pleased to buy their own home in Wantage. When nearly five years ago Ann was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t want to be a burden to her daughter, especially after Tommy was diagnosed with cancer. And so she kept the diagnosis a secret from her daughter who was struggling with her husband’s illness, and eventual death. Even so, Ann kept in close contact with her daughter and her grandson through phone calls.
Ann underwent various radiation treatments. Two times the cancer went into remission, but eventually it always returned. Throughout it all, Francis looked after her, trying to get her to eat, but Ann just didn’t feel hungry.
When Ann ended up in the hospital last week, she decided it finally time for Georgia and Michael to know. They came to see her in the hospital on Thursday. She had lost so much weight; it was clear she was very, very sick. Nonetheless Ann told Georgia and Michael, “Don’t worry; I’m not going anywhere.” She told them she loved them.
Soon after they departed, Ann went into a coma. This past week were the first times ever that Francis left Eskie so that he could come and sit beside Ann every day. When she entered the coma, I am sure that Ann sensed his loving presence. Saturday afternoon, shortly after Francis went home to Eskie, Ann went home to be with the Lord.
She had said, “Don’t worry; I’m not going anywhere.” There is a sense in which that is true. She went to be with God in heaven, and heaven isn’t some far away place; it’s simply another dimension. She loves you still. And one day you will be reunited.