Meeting Jane

I had watched her tapes, read her books, bought the appropriate leotards and leg warmers. I was 18, and I was a fitness nut. Jane Fonda was my fitness role model. I knew she was an actress first, but I had not watched any of her movies that I could recall. Then in 1982, came the multiple Academy Award winning movie, On Golden Pond. She was now beyond a tight-bunned Goddess to me. Although I was not yet 20 years old, I remember how the film moved me to consider the importance of my relationship with my father. Then last night, at an intimate living room gathering, I heard Jane Fonda read from her memoir. I was sitting in the front row. Before me was this stunning, fit, 70 year old woman, and I thought to myself, boy, those millions of leg lifts have really paid off.

The purpose of the gathering was to thank donors and introduce potential new ones to the work of the Women’s Media Center. Founded in 2004 their mission is to “make women visible and powerful in the media.” Jane was one of the founders of this organization, together with Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan and generously supports the cause.

Jane embraced the podium for her reading. “I DON’T LIKE YOU!” she belted with a pointing finger and a quivering head, mimicking Katharine Hepburn’s first meeting with her. Jane was trying to convince Katharine to except the role, opposite her father, the late and great Henry Fonda. She went on to read, act, the entire 18th chapter of her book, in which she shares the most intimate details of not only making the film On Golden Pond, but of her complex relationship with her father. She closed her reading with tears, and the words: “Dad died five months later.” She was brave, vulnerable and real, and I wanted to give her a hug.

Jane invited questions and I raised my hand. ” How do you feel at this very moment about the role women are going to play in shaping our future?” With clenched fists she unleashed her response. It was a had-to-be-there kind of moment. In a nutshell, she said, the time is now.

Although I had already thanked her and said good-bye, I couldn’t leave. I turned and walked back to her. I grabbed her hand and looking in to her eyes, I said “We are sisters.” With a big, beautiful smile she agreed.

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