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Celebrating the Life of a GaGa Sister

My devoted GaGa Sister, Janada Clark, passed away on April 26, 2017 at the age of 68 after a short but courageous battle with cancer.

Janada joined the GaGa Sisterhood in December 2011 at our annual Holiday Anniversary Luncheon. I still remember her tears when she introduced herself and said that she had found a wonderful group of kindred spirits. From that first meeting, Janada and I bonded and developed a deep mutual admiration for each other.

In January 2016, she began writing a book, a long-held dream of hers, which she completed in September 2016. Sadly, just a few weeks later she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Her book, Rein in Your Rascal, A Clear Path to Raising a Compliant Child, has already gotten excellent reviews on Amazon and will be available in paperback soon.

Janada was a parent educator with a large, devoted following of parents who valued her wisdom and experience which she shared as a parent coach. She had over 30 years of experience working with young children and parents and was passionate about equipping them to become more effective and successful in their parenting. She believed it was important for parents to create a loving, empathetic and positive environment in the home.

Celebrating Janada’s Life

On August 26, her family held a celebration of Janada’s life. Her husband, Tom, spoke about her passion for life, her family, her deep faith and her devotion to empowering parents with strategies that are both loving and effective. Her older son, David spoke about the joy of watching his mother grow up along with her two granddaughters. Her younger son, Stephen, said his mother inspired him to live life to the fullest and appreciate the bonds of family. Many parents who participated in her Confident Kids/Confident Parents program ten years ago gave testimony to how she saved their lives with the compassion and love she shared with them while teaching them how to be better parents.

I also shared some thoughts about Janada. On my way into the house, I saw her personalized license plate on her car and felt tears sting my eyes. Seeing her name, framed by the words, Happiness is being a grandma was the message she wanted the world to see. She spoke about the joy and pride she felt when she finally was able to have her granddaughter Lily spend every Friday at her house for “grandma day.” She raved about taking Lily to Disneyland which was truly Janada’s favorite place on earth. And she was over the moon when her second granddaughter, Gemma was born a year ago.

I brought Janada’s two little granddaughters a copy of My Yellow Balloon along with two yellow helium balloons. This beautiful children’s picture book by Tiffany Papageorge provides a simple metaphor for starting a conversation about loss. Tiffany spoke to our GaGa Sisterhood last year and read her book which tells the story of a little boy who gets a big yellow balloon and loves it like a best friend. One day he lets go of it and the balloon floats away. The boy is so devastated by his loss he feels like he’ll never be happy again. Slowly, he begins to recover and the book ends with the boy understanding that he’ll always have the memory of his beautiful balloon.

Tiffany inscribed her book for Lily and Gemma with the words: “Your grandma loves you forever.” It breaks my heart to know that those sweet little girls will never know the joy of growing up with their devoted grandmother. But I know their parents and grandpa will keep Janada’s memory alive with photos and stories of their very special grandma who loved them dearly for the brief time she was in their short lives.

Note: To read Tiffany’s remarkable story of conceiving the book when she was a freshman in high school, click on this link.

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