I started seeing the photos a couple of days ago–it’s February and the anniversary of Jim’s untimely death is approaching. I looked up the news article–to my shock it’s been five years. Five. Years. How can that be?
I reread what I wrote at the time and it is all still valid today. I am a little surprised at how often I think of Jim and his outsize personality. I think that the answer to the question “What Would Jim Jack Do?” is Live. Live Large. Live Joyously. Live without restriction. Be kind to everyone, and Live. That is what I am doing!
Below is my post from 2012…. I welcome other’s memories of Jim.
I logged onto Facebook to see what was up in the world and there it was–the smiling face of Jim Jack with the words “RIP JJ–we will miss you” in my newsfeed. I felt like I had been suckerpunched. I quickly ran a search and discovered that he had been killed in an avalanche up at Stevens Pass. And the tears began.
I graduated from high school with Jim. Lakes High School, class of ’84. My maiden name is Jackson, so we were always next to each other in the yearbook. I was, to put it bluntly, not popular and Jim was. Some from high school may see this and wonder why in the world I would cry at the loss of Jim Jack–I wasn’t best buds with him or even in the same Social Status. But he didn’t care about all that superficial stuff–unusual for a high school aged guy, but true. Jim didn’t judge people (ironic that he grew up to be a judge–he would appreciate that), he just took people as they were, smiled, laughed and went on with life. We had English together one semester, and we were in a drama club and a couple of plays together–in fact, one shining memory of him is as the silent but hilarious King Sextimus in “Once Upon A Mattress.” His antics on and off stage kept us all laughing until we cried. Or snorted. A story that I tell often involved Jim–sophomore year we were picking up our report cards, and the teacher that had the “J”s was often drunk. I didn’t realize it at the time–naive thing that I was, but it was true and as an adult I can see it clearly. Anyways…she handed Jim Jack my report card in error. That report card was the one and ONLY time in high school that I had straight As. I will never forget Jim’s shocked face when he saw the 4.0 and then the sheepish grin when he realized it was my report card. That became ‘our joke’–he teased me about straight As the rest of high school. And then, at our ten year reunion, he came up and gave me a big hug and said “Laura Jackson, how the heck are you? What are you up to?” At the time, I was working at CIA, and I told him so. He paused, took a swig of his beer, nodded and grinned and said “That’s because you got straight As.” He then proceeded to tell me about being a ‘professional ski bum’ and firefighter. He was so happy and content–it all seemed to be a perfect fit for him.
With the advent of Facebook, like so many others, I have been able to keep in touch with scattered friends from long ago. I don’t accept every friend request–I have to actually know you. And remember you fondly. Despite having only seen him at reunions since high school, I happily accepted Jim’s friend request. It has been fascinating to me to have this window into his world, so vastly different from mine–his posts almost in another language to a non-skier “fresh pow today” meaning little to this suburban mom. It was clear, however, that he loved his life and was filled with joy. It seems wildly appropriate to me that his job was in the outdoors–no walls could contain that spirit and that larger than life personality.
Reunions will not be the same without him. He will be remembered and toasted at all of them in the future, I can guarantee that. I think of him now in Heaven, which for him will be sunny skies, clean crisp air, a killer run with “fresh pow” with a cold beer, warm fire and good friends at the end. Cheers to you Jim–we will all miss your face.