Conversations With Jane

by Russell Grish

Conversations with Jane There is a phone that is ringing in a mind that's singing, songs from long ago. Want to answer, but right now I'm a dancer, from a early sixties show.... Later today, or maybe tomorrow the person you seek shall be. For in this moment, the dancer shall omit, all the unpleasantries. I'm kind and I'm caring, but the people are scaring me with their tales of heartbreak and sorrow. The dancer has gone and so has the song, who will show up tomorrow? Speaking in stories that tell tales of glory, of woe and personal struggle In conversations with Jane they are all one in the same, whether actual or borrowed. Her ears are open to all that live, in studio reality. I visit without haste, different person same face, but with whom shall she speak in the morrow? Six times a week she attempts to seek, those I have referred. Patiently listening, as her eyes glisten, with every tale that's heard. Conversations with Jane are what keeps me sane, with each person her talent surpasses. Focused in her work, open in mind, and a heart that feels for the masses. Then suddenly I hear the sounds of foot steps, coming down the hall, getting faster, getting closer, I don't want to expose her, its not them she came to see, so I cover the mirror as they come nearer asking Jane" who could it be"? Then, on the door there's a knock, and a voice that squeaks, are you ready to speak with me? A man in a tie looks into my eyes, and asks "who is it that I see"? Sit down and relax take a load off your mind, some water or coffee I'll order. Today, by the way, I'll be speaking to Jane, its not a request but an order. I'll uncover the mirror that makes it clearer for you to see Jane who cares. She doesn't exist in terms of the flesh, yet your flesh she shares. Inside the mirror where you see her clearer, she is a reflection in your spirit. Conversations with Jane will begin once again, with all inside that can hear it

A dimming street light casts a shadow upon the walk way of the Wellington house. Inside Dr. and Mrs. Wellington are awaiting the arrival of their first born child. It had been a long and difficult pregnancy, filled with complications. Dr. Wellington ever the optimist, comforts his wife as her water breaks and their struggle to bring new life into the world shall soon end. With one last push and a loud and robust scream of relief, a brand new baby girl makes her entrance upon the stage of life. Cleansed, comforted and warm, the new baby lies in her mothers arms. Abigail, what shall we name our beautiful new daughter? I put much thought into it, She replied, We shall call her Jane.Janes life would be one of privilege and opportunity. Dr. Wellington, a respected and successful psychologist and his wife Abigail, daughter of a wealthy rancher, had the means and the wear with all to insure their new off springs place in high the year of our lord 1929 great financial disaster fell upon the country. Many would lose all and others less, yet to them it was the years to follow Dr. Wellingtons practice grew beyond anticipation. Those of great means who now found themselves in a bit more humbling circumstance sought his help and expertise, trying to accept, or at minimum, exist in a world that was foreign to them. Around ten years of age Jane, began to show a peculiar interest in her fathers work. Sometimes she hid under his desk during sessions with his patients, or at other times listened from the adjoining room through the heat vents of their Victorian era home.Jane attended the very best private schools of the time. An outstanding student, early in her education she showed signs of future greatness. Her parents were proud and supportive and nurtured her natural ability to reason and see with clarity that was uncanny for a girl on the verge of her eighteenth birthday approached, Janes time had come for her to attend college. Her applications had been submitted to the finest institutions both at home and abroad. She excelled in the sciences and in social skills. Her ability to communicate ideas and decipher conversation in more than one language was no less than impressive. With much available to her, the choice may have appeared to be difficult for a woman of such youth. However, Jane was confident and concise when she made her decision.I shall attend the school of psychological studies here in the U.S, she exclaimed.Her parents, taken back by her choice, supported her decision nonetheless. If you wish dear. We trust that whatever it is that you choose you to do you are destined to be the best in that field. The next six years of her life were spent immersed in her studies. The second Great War was underway. Many of the gentlemen that Jane had been in the company of during her time at the university, now took up arms and joined their country in battle. Jane found herself somewhat alone in her chosen field, giving her an advantage that under normal circumstance may have not risen. While attending the university Jane was one of only three women who had been accepted, not due to lack of ability, but due to the fact that this was a male dominated field of study. During that period a womans place was certainly not there. Yet she prevailed, graduating at the top of her class with honors.Beginning her career was not an easy task. In a male dominated field there wasnt much call for female psychologists. With the war commencing and the casualties of it arriving back to the shores of our nation, there were a lack of male psychologists to accommodate the increasing arrival of veterans and victims. Again Jane was given an opportunity to prove her worth, by treating the victims of shell shock and other war related psychological issues. Spending many days, nights, and months in army hospitals and facilities Jane treated soldiers, nurses and other doctors returning in a state that was unrecognizable from their former. Gaining experience and honing her skills, Jane became one of the most effective psychologists of the time. U.S. Army officials approached her asking if she would relocate for a time to the western U.S. to a facility located on an Indian reservation where she would treat returning American Indian soldiers and war staff. Hearing the location sparked an immediate interest to her. For the town in the great state of Arizona where she would be working was also the home of her mothers family, the Baxters, a large well-to-do family whose ranching had tripled in size and wealth supplying beef for the war effort. As the papers and orders were drawn, Jane returned to her familys home spending time with her mother and father. Dr. Wellington, now retired, was jubilant when hearing the news of her latest assignment. Abigail was beside herself knowing that Jane would be in such close proximity of her own once beloved family.Her arrival went as expected, greeted by her family with open arms. She was whisked away to their ranch for a welcoming party filled with the well-to-do and their entourages. This was the first time in Janes life that she would meet her mothers family as throughout her childhood she heard very little about them other than tales of their enormous wealth but never questioning or wondering why that was. She stayed on the ranch just two weeks before going to her next on the reservation was quite different than what Jane was accustomed to. The differences in cultures were obvious and apparent. At first her efforts were rejected and most in need of help would refrain, putting their trust and wellbeing in the caring hands of a traditional healer which was akin to their culture. She approached him on many occasions, trying to explain herself and her medical background to him in an attempt that he may guide his people to her and give his blessings to her work. His apprentice, on the other hand, found her work, her words and her shapely figure not only interesting, but exciting and inspiring. As time passed, Jane became more comfortable in her surroundings. The young apprentice approached her and introduced himself as Wind Bear and welcomed her to the reservation. Wind Bear? My, what an interesting name. Is it a family name? No, he replied, it is the name given to me in a naming ceremony held by the elders. The Christian missionaries who taught at the reservation school called me by a different name. What name would that be Wind Bear? Raphael. A noble name indeed, may I call you Raphael? Yes, maam you may, but in the company of my people, especially my father, I am Wind Bear. Their relationship grew, Raphael learning by observing and Jane listening to Raphael telling stories and sharing the culture of his people. Jane found his words enchanting, but disregarded much of what he spoke as folklore and tribal fantasy. Her education and somewhat arrogant demeanor prevented her from truly absorbing the messages and lessons contained in each tale that she was being told. Against the protocols of his tribe, Raphael invited Jane to participate in his peoples sacred ceremonies that had been done since the beginning of time. Being a woman as well as being an outsider, were two strikes against her in the eyes of the traditional peoples. When the time was right, Raphael took her out to the mountains, just the two of them, and shared ancient rituals. Jane found this to be thought provoking, yet inside her ability to reason prevented her from allowing herself to be completely involved. She admired Raphaels knowledge of tradition and ceremony, as well as his sincerity. The first ceremony they shared together was a cleansing ritual. Raphael had total command and conviction as they ventured forward. Fasting began the following day. It will help to cleanse your spirit as well as your mind Jane, he stated as they headed higher into the pristine mountains. Coming upon a flat piece of ground high atop the mountain, all was visible for miles. This is where we will stay, its a good place, and we are close to the spirits here. Jane smiled and asked, How long Raphael will we be here? Until we are through he replied. The day turned into night and stars filled the sky. They sat in silence most of the time, Raphael prayed occasionally in his native language and keep the fire burning. This went on for three days. Jane began to question the reasoning and purpose of the ceremony, with little to no food or water, just tobacco to smoke and sprinkle into the ever burning fire. She grew anxious. Open your heart Jane, then your spirit will follow. Once that happens, they will come to speak with us. Who are they, Raphael, spacemen? She laughed! A charming idea, but it seems a bit unreasonable. Eventually the time came on the third night. All was quiet. In a moments time a large bear appeared out of what seemed to be nowhere. He walked upright like a man, around his neck was a talisman. He spoke in a language they could both understand. The two sat completely drawn in by this presence and the words that he was sharing. Before his departure, he spoke directly to Jane. Young one, it is for you that I have come to this place. My relation has brought you here to fulfill my wishes. You are a strong medicine woman, smart and confident. The one thing you need to know that you do not now, is to protect your spirit from those who you doctor. You have come to this sacred mountain for a reason. We have heard your heart and the prayers of Wind Bear, and we feel for you, and you now and forever will be a part of us. We will share our medicine with you, and it will be you who takes it forward to our relations. The spirit bear removed the talisman from around his neck and placed it on Janes. This will protect you and keep your spirit safe as you go through life. No one will be able to see it, not even you. It is your spirit that knows of its presence. When you find yourself feeling lost or feeling other than yourself remember this talisman hangs around your neck and it will protect you. In a flash the bear disappeared, leaving Jane and Raphael alone once again upon the mountain - exhausted, hungry and, in Janes case, the morning light shone down upon their camp, the time came to go back to the reservation. Jane remained silent for most of the trip home. She went over all that had transpired, trying to rationalize what had happened. Raphael just smiled.The days ahead would prove to be challenging on many levels. Jane was better received by the native peoples and became skillfully effective to their needs. Raphael was at her side translating and comforting those who were still skeptical of the white medicine woman. Jane and Raphael became somewhat kindred spirits. Their energies had bonded and in a sense their spirits were one.Two years passed since Jane arrived at the reservation and knew her time was coming to a close. She received notice that her father, Dr. Wellington, was in poor health and his prognosis was grim. The journey home began. Prior to her departure she spent her last day with Raphael. They reminisced and shared their mutual admiration of each other. With one last hug before departing, Raphael held her tightly and said a prayer in his native language. He looked Jane directly in the eyes and said, I will be with you always. When you need me you just need to look inside and there you will find me. Remember the bear upon the mountain, my ancestor, remember the medicine he shared with you and you will always be safe. A long awaited last kiss followed, deep, loving and unforgettable. Arriving back to the Wellington house she found her mother, now frail and overcome with sorrow, her father at deaths door. She remained with them, comforting her mother and caring for her father as he reached his crescendo in life. The funeral service was large and dignified, with many prestigious individuals in attendance paying tribute to a great mind. A former student turned colleague of her fathers, Charles Alexander, informed Jane of a position that was opening at the very university she had attended in the days to come. He left her the information along with his condolences.Jane spent the next two years of her life caring for her mother and opening a small private practice in the Wellington house as her father had done in the days of her youth. The times were changing at a rapid pace, as well as the issues of the day. Abigail came to pass on the anniversary of our nations birth 1950. Jane, unmarried, but a successful woman of forty one years of age was now free to address her career as well as her desire to become world renown in her field whole heartedly. She spent hours upon hours reading notes from sessions her father had conducted over the span of his career. Some were general and clinical to a tee, and others had a more disturbing tone, as if her father was questioning his own sense of reality and reasoning, becoming befuddled and at a loss for words in his descriptions of one or two cases in particular. She found them disturbing, and would continue to read them over and over again to the point of obsession. She dreamt of these cases, finding herself immersed in the horror that was prevalent in her fathers writings. It was almost as if the subject of the study was being absorbed into her own reality, embedding itself in her very being. She, finally, was able to disconnect herself from those haunting scenarios, when her own practice grew at full speed. Many came to seek her wisdom, knowledge and help. She was invited to speak by many large universities and institutions on behalf of the progress that she continued to make in her field. Jane was only steps from achieving her goals.Returning again to her private practice, she thought it would be appropriate to update and refresh her office and surroundings. She packed up her fathers files and memorabilia, keeping some of the items of old to incorporate into her new design. Moving furniture and heavy cabinets required the help of strong bodies. Charles Alexander, now her colleague, and assorted friends and acquaintances came upon her request. During the shuffling of her fathers materials in the book cases, she came across another file, one that was separate from the bulk of his case studies, and one that was hidden yet accessible. It was in a leather bound jacket with gold embossed writing. She dusted off the cover and to her surprise and curiosity it read, Abbey and the Baxters. What on earth, she exclaimed, this must be some type of family history or genealogical documents. She put it aside, for the moment and continued the redecorating and light renovations.All was done and, elegant, modern and professional in appearance as she had imagined. New look, new challenges for a new generation, she spoke to herself. Janes practice was thriving, referrals doctors from all across the nation were coming to seek her. She was taking the most difficult cases she could find, cases that peers were unable or unwilling to accept.A beautiful woman came to her by recommendation from a colleague. She was in her early twenties, born in the year that Janes mother had passed. She carried a transistor radio with her at all times and refused to put it down. It had an ear plug attachment that was consistently plugged into her mind. She periodically burst out into dance, becoming unaware of her surroundings. During their sessions together, Jane was finding it difficult to reach her inner being. To squelch the fantasy world this young woman was apparently living in, in Janes opinion, Jane would sometimes get the womans attention, telling her that she needed to step out for a moment, and if the phone should ring to please pick it up and say, Hello, please hold a moment. Jane knew this type of distraction might give her a chance to engage the young woman in conversation with someone who she could not see. Jane went into another part of her home and called her office from her private line. The phone would ring and ring and ring, yet no answer. She repeated this scenario over the course of time and the end results would repeat as well. One day she left the phone to ring while she quietly returned to her office. Upon her arrival she could hear the phone as loud as could be. The woman was dancing, yet the transistor radio wasnt on. The ear plug was in, yet no light, no sound and the dance continued. The young woman would eventually be institutionalized, leaving Jane with a sense of failure. It disturbed her deeply and she would replay her sessions with the woman over and over in her mind with no different an outcome. Trudy, a name she repeated often while in therapy, passed on leaving nothing behind, but the transistor radio, which she left a note upon, for Jane.Deeply troubled by this self-labeled failure, Jane began to withdraw inside herself. Her dreams were filled with events of the past she had read about in her fathers papers, along with dreams of who she would only know as Trudy. During counseling sessions she would sometimes become distracted and lost in conversation, forgetting to whom it was that she was speaking, or giving diagnosis and advice on cases other than the one she was confronting. Jane took some time for herself, a sabbatical, to regroup and relax. Maybe I have just been working too much lately, she thought.Trying to keep busy around her home, not seeing patients, was a difficult task for an overachiever. She went through her family home, cleaning and organizing, giving away items to the attic she found furnishings, clothes and possessions that must have been left behind by the former owners and builders of the Wellington house. One item in particular struck her fancy. A Victorian era free standing mirror. She uncovered the mirror that was wrapped in an old blanket and dusted it off. It is magnificent! I shall bring it down stairs and add it to the dcor in my office. Jane placed the mirror in the room close to the wall that was behind the chair that her patients would sit in. Its lovely, she said as she gazed across the chair from behind her desk and could see herself looking back.While gazing at her image in the mirror, Jane remembered the leather bound book that she had uncovered while redecorating. Now where did I put that? She walked over to the built-in book cases, combing each shelf searching for the leather binder, not finding what she sought. With one more space to check, a small cubby next to the door Oh yes, I had forgotten all about that hidden shelf, its behind the mirror. My father kept his brandy there. Now I remember! She returned to the comfort of her desk chair, a place that she would kiddingly refer to as her judges chair. She open the binder and began reading. As she moved along inside the leather bound book, she realized that it wasnt a genealogical report, nor a family history, but a psychological study by her father pertaining to her mother Abigail. Her father, in the beginning of her parents relationship, was Abigails doctor. He treated her for many years prior to their marriage. At some point during her treatment, he took her as a lover, which was ethically unacceptable. He impregnated her, and in order to maintain his impeccable reputation needed to keep those facts from the public. He decided to treat her on a one on one basis away from the institution where she resided. He contacted her family and told them of this need to remove her from her current state to a more private facility where he felt that he would be able to make much more rapid progress in her treatment. The family responded by giving him a house that they had owned deep in the countryside. The Wellington house? My god, my entire life has been spent living inside a lie. Who am I? Jane continued to spiral downhill. She would spend endless hours sitting in the Judges chair talking to someone that wasnt there. Her colleague Charles Alexander would come by frequently, bring her the necessities, keeping company with her. His concerns for her current state of being was growing. One day he would stop by and Jane would be dancing with a transistor radio, the phone would be ringing and ringing yet never answered. On other days he would walk in on her as she sat in her chair speaking to her reflection in the Victorian mirror, speaking to someone or something that he was unaware existed. She would reminisce, telling tales of her childhood, hiding and listening to her fathers sessions with his patients. Her state of being declined on a daily basis. Charles, have you met Trudy? Yes Jane I have. Charles concern for his friend brought him to eventually stay at the Wellington house, where he cared for Jane as well as her home. Each day upon awakening, she began by taking care of her needs and then entering her office to begin counseling the un-seeable images in the time went on Jane continued to see patients. The village of her birth where the Wellington house stood suffered economic woes. A once thriving community diminished and all that remained were memories of what once was. In his regular daily responsibilities Charles went to check in on Jane. Not hearing any sounds coming from the office, he approached the door and gently knocked. When there was no response he cautiously opened the door and peered inside.Jane was in an almost catatonic state. In her hand she held the transistor radio with the ear plug in. Papers were in order and her desk cleared with a cup of tea steeping to her side. At first glance he thought that maybe she had dosed off while in session with herself. As Jane glanced into the mirror a talisman garnished her neck. She asked, Raphael is that you? as she turned towards Charles. With heart felt sincerity Charles responded Yes, its Raphael. Turning to the mirror once more, Jane smiled and closed her eyes.The ambulance came to a village whose nameIs shared with the place Napoleon surrendered

Conversations with Jane were never quite saneBetween a historian and a grounds tenderWith books and diaries of my familys pastHer only companion they will forever lastIn the mind of an old woman with no family of her ownIn foster care until she was grownHer books and her studies were all she embracedIn the mirror only she could see Janes faceAs she was strapped in and rolled awayThe attendant began to sayElias Smith, what was her name?I answered, Prudence Trudy to mostBut you can call her Jane, for shes been a worthy host

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