It’s not actions, but words that matter

There are those who tread lightly on this Earth, making quiet impact in positive ways, whispering goodness as they make their rounds, and breathing life in to all the right places.

Remembering

never expected accolades. She was born with a passion for doing right, especially by the animals brought in to the world through no choice, many surviving in bad conditions with no voice.

Years ago, shortly after I began writing for the Farm and Dairy, Janie wrote me the first of what would become many kind letters. She was like a cheerleader, urging me to continue writing, no matter what else might come along in a hectic and busy life.

“You have the ability to form a kinship with your reader, and that is a gift. Keep up the good work!” she wrote in that initial correspondence.

Not many people in her position would have cared enough to offer such encouragement to the new kid. If you knew nothing else about Janie S. Jenkins, that story alone tells plenty.

A shared passion

Over the years, we shared our passion and agony over various stories of suffering of animals, weakened by those who did not or could not care for them. Janie gave much of her time and energy to the Mahoning County Humane Society, and was pleased to have been the first woman to have been selected in a special appointment to the board of commissioners of Boardman Township Park District. I was impressed when Janie deeded her historic home property to that park district for preservation.

Her love of horses was born in to her, and she wrote of having ridden her first horse before she could even talk. It made me smile to know that she was still riding well in to her 80s, and still found joy in just being near the horses — brushing them, talking to them and taking in all the scents and sounds of the horse barn.

Sincere letter

A few years ago, one of my columns shared my turning-point in having walked away from a long-term professional position that had proven to be a toxic environment. I needed to make that change, and Janie wasted no time in picking up her pen to applaud my convictions.

I saved that letter, along with the others that Janie had written to me over the years, and it is one of my favorite keepsakes of all time. An honorable woman, Janie knew without hesitancy when someone was deserving of encouragement, and in her amazing strength of character, took the time to say all the right things.

We shared our deep love and appreciation of dogs, our passion to preserve local history, wildlife and all of nature’s best, the farm world and everything it encompasses. We were blessed to have been born in to good, solid, hard-working families with the land as our steadfast anchor, and it was joyous to share stories.

I can’t help but picture Janie, sailing on to the next adventure, wishing she could find a way to write it all down just to share it with us. I was blessed to have known the life’s work of this amazing woman, who set the bar high for the rest of us in so many wonderful ways.

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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