"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Remembering Jacqueline


This blog was a casualty of my eventful lifestyle. I got to a point where blogging got so low on my list of priorities that I had to can it. I left behind a growing readership, a lovely community and some rather fantastic friends.

One of those friends was Jacqueline Mitchell. She was a force of nature. She had a host of health problems, but managed to keep (or maybe I should say "which give her") this wonderful, feisty attitude towards life.

As you might suspect, I'm writing this because we won't be graced with that feisty attitude any more. Jacqueline passed away after complications from a stroke on Monday 6th of February.

Another blogging friend, Robyn, had messaged us to break the news. It was on the following Wednesday and I had just arrived at footy training. It was like one of those things you might see in the movies where the rest of the world fades into the background and all you can focus on is the message. I was dumbfounded, not only by the news itself, but also by the fact that it had affected me so much. As I got out of the car and wandered absent-mindedly into the changeroom, people said hi to me and asked me how I was going. I wanted to say "Actually, not well. A friend of mine just passed away." But I couldn't bring myself to bring it up. These were people that I didn't know too well, and I had no idea how to explain it. How do you explain to a teenager that I was friends with an old lady that I met on the internet?

I continued to be in a reserved, melancholy mood for the rest of the night. But why was I so affected? I didn't actually know her that well. She commented on my blog posts, I commented on hers. We connected on Facebook and made the occasional comment to each other. I liked her wit and resilience, she liked my sense of adventure and philosophical outlook. But that's it. I hadn't really made the time to get to know her any deeper than that.

I eventually realised that that was the problem. I was so affected precisely because I hadn't gotten to know her. I'd taken her limited presence in my life for granted and now that she was gone, she'd never know how awesome I thought she was. It's one of those things... You don't think to tell people the things they need to hear - that they're loved, that they're not alone, or that they're an inspiration. You don't think to tell them you're sorry or that you're proud of them. Then there comes a time when you can't say it any more. And suddenly, you wish you had.

Jacqueline will serve as a reminder of two things - to always maintain my personality and vigour in my old age and deteriorating health, and to always let people know I appreciate them. Otherwise they'll disappear, and you won't be able to let them know any more.

22 comments:

  1. Those are two valuable lessons. Hopefully we can all take that advice. RIP Jacqueline.

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    1. It's also one of those things you often realise and then do nothing about.

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  2. Kind of of how I feel about Jac and her death. I have precious personal emails from her and blog comments. I really liked her.

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    1. That what us bloggers have to keep her memory alive.

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  3. Hey Michael! Robyn let me know as well, but unfortunately, I didn't have the honor of knowing her. I understand your reaction though - I was stunned when Tina died. Some friendships can't be measured though.

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    1. I'm not sure any friendships can be measured. I heard a quote once which I love - "A friend can be considered a true masterpiece of nature."

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  4. Blogging lets us meet so many wonderful people whose paths we would never otherwise cross. Cyber friends are real and we grow to care about each other, as your tribute post shows, Michael.

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  5. That last comment really made me tear up. Since we're still here (lol), I hope you have always known how much I appreciate your friendship.

    But today - to Jacqueline! May she rest in sweet, sweet peace. Well deserved peace.

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    1. And I you, Cherdo. You're a wonderful person.

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  6. She messaged me back and forth every once in awhile on FB. She liked and commented on so many posts.

    I miss her! She seemed like a far off relative that I was just beginning to get to know.

    She had a daughter that was named after her mother. Those were her favorite people. She loved her dogs. Each one had a personality. She loved old architecture.

    She got comments that she looked like Kathy Bates. I can see it, but she wasn't like the character in Mystery for sure!

    She hated being a burden. It seems like death hovered over their family in the last few years. Death seems to be like that. :( I feel for their family!

    It is strange mourning for a blogger. It's like we know them, but don't. This is the 2nd one I've mourned. I have had other blogger friends that drifted. That's hard too. One I was friends with for a long time. Like 3 or 4 years. She had asked me to be friends with her on FB a long time ago. I did. I must have said something because we're not friends anymore. I just don't unfriend people. It makes me sad + I wonder what in the heck did I say? Life is strange sometimes.

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    1. One lesson I'm still trying to teach myself is that it's not always your fault. There's literally an infinite number of reasons that friend fell out of touch and it's unlikely to be anything you did wrong.

      As for Jacqueline it's been great seeing people come out with stories of what they knew about her.

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  7. so much truth here. it is funny how the internet connects us in ways we never imagined, and sometimes that doesn't seem quite real as so many of these connections are in the blogosphere only. but they touch us in ways that stop us in our tracks and make us think; think more deeply. Jacqueline was one of those people. I will miss her voice and her humor

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    1. Her personality somehow came across on the screen. I wonder if she was even more likeable face to face.

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  8. I know how you feel. I exchanged messages with her through Facebook, and I got to know her a little, but not a ton. We didn't even connect through my personal FB. It was through the ABFTS fan page, so I hadn't known that she'd passed until Robyn reached out to me, too. I was sad that I didn't get a chance to know her more, and sad that I hadn't reached out more when she was well.

    But there's no what ifs, and we can't change the past. Jacqueline knew that you cared about her, and you got an important life lesson out of this. I did, too. Besides, you may have left your blog behind, but I still keep up with you on Twitter/Facebook. And I appreciate you, for all you do.

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    1. Thanks Bryan, I appreciate you as well. Your blog is the only one I kept reading after mine fell away and I just enjoy the way you go about life.

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  9. I read through all the posts about Jacqueline, Michael. I wasn't in tears until now. I'm regretting that I as more selfish than not towards Jacqueline - requesting that she write words of praise for my book. And now I wish I hadn't focused on me. But every relationship is two ways, and we navigate it all the best we can, whole-heartedly like our dear friend.

    There's no way that anyone, much less someone as perceptive and genuine as Jacqueline, would not read into your words how much you care. She knew. We all do.

    Thank you for being such an important part of our community. I and we love you, Michael.

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    1. I know exactly how you feel Robyn. I constantly feel guilty that I take more than I give with the people in my life. Deep, genuine, articulate, specific, heartfelt praise is one of the few things I do feel I can offer.

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  10. It is sad when someone passes away she sounds like an amazing lady

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  11. I wondered where you had been. I am so sorry your loss. You get connected to people by reading and exchanging comments more than you think. We often say things in a blog we don't sit at the dinner table and tell the family.
    Take care.

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    1. Yeah I certainly didn't realise the effect she had.

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