Saturday 29 November, 2003

My friend and colleague Julia recently died after a courageous battle against ovarian cancer. We were certain that our Julia would be in that tiny percentage of survivors of this incidious disease.

Choosing Roses

The last time I saw Julia was in a dream early last Saturday morning. I don't usually remember my dreams but this one is still vivid. In the dream, she was sitting up looking healthier than I'd seen her in some months and I said that I was so glad to have gotten a chance to talk to her because I wanted to thank her for telling me about a butcher shop that she frequented. And then we started laughing together and I woke up smiling. I learned that she had died very early that morning.

Because I don't didn't see Julia every day, I find it very difficult to believe that I won't run into her on a job or bicycle with her or hear her voice on the phone asking me to go sailing or share dinner.

The last time I saw her was shortly before she went home from the hospital for the final time. She was frail and thin; but she was sitting up in her hospital bed talking with one of her many different friends and visitors. She was thrilled that her Italian neighbour had come bearing a gift of homemade chickenstock. By that time the incidious cancer had spread, and eating anything was difficult. But there she was, happily tucking into what smelled like beautiful stock, saying that it was so much better than the dreck served at the hospital. It was wonderful to see her smile and ask to have a little more soup heated up because it was so good. Another visitor came by and we made our excuses saying that we were leaving anyway so that the rule of 2 visitors at a time would be honoured. She looked surprised and said, "You were not!" But we made our leave anyway little realizing that it would be our last visit.

Of course I have many fond memories of Julia but one of the really fond memories of her was when she and I were headed to play a wedding up north and decided to leave early so we could stop at the Humber nursery. I had never been and Julia was clearly thrilled to show the huge place to me. We picked up a map at the entrance and planned our route.

We started in the herb section - pinching leaves or brushing our hands over the many varieties and drinking in the wonderful smells, exclaiming, "have you ever seen so many different kinds of rosemary?" "look at the colour of that basil" "l e m o n   t h y m e  ... oooooh" and then our herbal time was up. We grabbed a small bay tree and reluctantly left, trailing our hands through a lavender bush just before racing past the tantalizing displays of annuals and perennials (only getting sidetracked slightly to admire the watergardens) and on to the climbing vines and roses.

Julia happily agonized for ages over a rose bush with exquisite white blooms with a hint of blush in the center, and another with equally stunning rose pink blossoms with a slight peach tinge. She went back and forth asking what I would get, smelling the roses, getting distracted for a moment to briefly add a third choice of a deep red that was lurking between the two almost chosen ones. The beautiful red was eliminated and it was back to the original two. At last the decision was made and we triumphantly headed toward the cashier carrying our trophies. Just as we got there, back Julia raced to switch to the other rose.

Julia Jones 1959-2003

National Ovarian Cancer Society

©ejm99 can't stop watering the lawn
ejm 2003
Toronto Ontario Canada