These Cranes Have a Story

Cover Image

These Cranes have a Story

My sister-in-law, Jan, was many things. She was a daughter, a mother, a wife, a sister, a poet, a flight attendant, and a beautiful, loving person. Her lengthy career as a flight attendant with a major airline took her many places. Her regular route was a round trip to and from Japan. She made this flight several times a month. 

Jan loved going to Japan. She enjoyed the people, the culture, and most days, the job. Then she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Jan had to stop flying and treatment became her full-time job.

One of the projects that she took on during her stronger moments was self-publishing a book of her poetry, entitled In Flight and featuring a paper crane on the cover. Many of her poems were about Japan.

Jan fought the cancer for a couple of years but, like nearly all people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the cancer finally won. She was actually a model patient because pancreatic cancer usually claims lives within a few months or weeks of diagnosis.

After her death, her fellow flight attendants spent hours and hours carefully folding hundreds of tiny paper cranes. They brought them to a memorial service for Jan where the cranes graced every table. Jan would have been thrilled to see it.

The purple crane has become a symbol of hope for our family and many others who support the need for finding ealier diagnosis and more successful treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Jan did not know about hitRECord but I am sure that she would have thought it was great. I suspect she'd be contributing poetry right now if she were still here. This is the poem that inspired the title of her book:

One Thousand Cranes


honor commitment

with gifts of origami precision,

contemplate the recipient one thousand times.

Sacred creases sealed with oil of human hands, the seams of careful nail

until fingerprints and wishes

flutter to take flight,



-Jan Veile

If you're so moved, you might want to get more of the story on my wife's blog:

Keep hitting RECord. Again by heart...


Created: Apr 06, 2014

Tags: love, japan, cancer, paper cranes, poetry, origami

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