It's amazing sometimes how, when you lose someone, random memories come flooding back.
I lost a dear friend last week....an almost 40 year friendship..... and since then I've been flooded with memories of our times together...and I don't think there is one memory that I would want to erase. I think it's a coping mechanism.....I still grieve...but the grief is peppered with smiles as I remember good times.
I met Jackie in 1973 as I was heading home from England after finishing a three year stint at the Royal College of Music. We were delayed for 13 hours in Gatwick Airport and so got to know each other quite well. She lived in Portland at the time and was flying home via Vancouver on a charter after a holiday in her home country of England. We went our separate ways but kept in touch by letter and phone and visits. She gave her approval of my choice of husband and proceeded to call him her boyfriend. She predicted I was pregnant with my firstborn.....and she was right. I believe she also predicted my second child as well. She felt that those predictions gave her the position of honourary aunt which we had no problem bestowing upon her. She introduced us to her friends, bringing them up for visits to our home....and we returned the visits...kids and all. At least one of those friends is still a close friend of ours.
After several years in Portland, at the age of 56, she moved back to England to marry her soul mate Jack.
Jack was a lovely man, Lancashire born and bred, and he adored his Jackie. They were two peas in a pod. She still made regular visits to Oregon and BC introducing Jack to the countryside and her friends.
We went over to the UK in 2003 and spent nearly two weeks with them, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Day trips with them to Morecambe, Blackpool and York, and then spending some time exploring on our own in Manchester and Lancaster Castle. We did hope to get back over there, but time and finances never did seem to allow us to do so....and now I expect we will go at some point, but there will definitely be a feeling of someone missing.
Over the years, Jackie amassed a collection of toy penguins...mostly plush, but some ornamental. She had names for most of her "boys" as she called them and we used to make up stories...in emails, on the phone and in letters, about their exploits. She had a sense of whimsy and her ability to give them characters was wonderful. It was a place I loved to go with her....we seemed to be of like mind. She received a few parcels from us with "pens" as we called them stowed inside....and the scenario we used was that we were the layover before the pens finished their trip to "old folk in England" I had a few sources near where I live that I frequented to see if there were any new penguin visitors in stock. We even managed to get two quite large pens wearing toques that we bought during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. She had good times making up a story line for those two new acquisitions!!
Jack died in 2008 and then Jackie's brother Graham passed away almost exactly 2 years later. After Jack's death, Jackie's health deteriorated and in the end, she was really just tired and wanted to join Jack....which she did on March 22, 2011.
As I always want to find an upside to any sad situation, the upside here is that they are together again.....and that's as it should be.
Love and hugs to you both double J's and I have two baby pens here who will take up vigil next to your picture in my studio. I see you smiling my dears.....it's all good.