I've been a bit out of sorts since last Monday January 7th, when I checked my email and discovered that my friend, Bob Jackson, passed away on January 3rd. His funeral took place earlier today in the town of Brentwood in Essex, England.
I met Bob and his wife, Pam, on January 7th, 1996 when I arrived at their house to stay for two weeks as part of a January Term "English School and Family" class I took through University of St. Thomas. During this time I and another St. Thomas student lived with the Jacksons and went to school each day with Bob at Brentwood School where Bob taught French.
From L to R: Me, Heather (who also stayed with Bob & Pam) Bob and Pam
There is a lot I want to write here but I can't make anything sound right - a lot of processing I'm doing on paper and in my head about what matters in life. There's sadness about Bob's death. There's anger that Bob died so young - he was only 76 and had been in fine form. There's fear about death in general, specifically when it involves parent-type people. And anger that Bob died before I got back to England to see him again - we were saving our money and planned to go to England next year. If only I would have known next year was going to be too late...
All this processing isn't making a whole lot of sense to me and certainly won't make sense to you...maybe some day I'll write something about Bob that makes sense, that puts my thoughts in order, assuming I can get my thoughts in order about this...anyway, I'll spare you from more processing and just tell you about Bob.
Bob was extraordinary.
Bob introduced me to Berlioz's music and Baudelaire's poetry. He was the first person I knew of who bicycled to work. He brought Pam a cup of tea in the morning, enjoyed listening to classical music while he graded papers in the evening and wrote to me each Christmas. He and Pam were house parents at Brentwood School for many years and kept in touch with the students who used to live with them. He translated French poetry and fiction for fun and published two books of his translations (I have signed copies of both). He was active, kind, dedicated to teaching and loved his family.
Bob made an incredible difference in the lives of hundreds of people.
I am one of them.
I was blessed to know Bob. So incredibly lucky and blessed that Bob was part of my life and that his memory and all he taught me continues to touch my life.
I am sad and I am out of words that make sense other than these - Thank you, Bob. Rest in Peace.
Bob's translations of Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire and En Rade & Un Dilmeme by Huysmans