Just remembering: JTA, JML

It suddenly hit me that it’s 4 years since we lost JTA and JML. 

I really can’t believe it’s been so long; MOL has changed so much (not all change is bad), people have moved away and interests have changed. Everyone’s lives have changed in so many ways, small and not-so-small. 

The outside-world has changed too. 

But I miss them, keenly. I miss the way we all were when they were with us. I think they helped us to laugh more, and reminded us to wield our passions with kindness as well as steel. Their love for their families and their community were so strong, it was just so inspiring; and I honestly don’t think there wasn’t anything JTA wouldn’t do if an animal needed help. 

A candle burns in my living room for them; I’ll wear a touch of orange for the rest of the month. 

Feel free to share a memory below. Or maybe revive the one-line-at-a-time storytelling thread cheese

I didn't really know justtheaunt.  But I knew Laura in person and yes, she was someone who could find a positive in just about any situation.  I sometimes wonder what she'd be saying right now.  Pretty sure she'd have one of those pink hats.

Here's a story about Laura, who ran a catering business.  She catered a bat mitzvah for the child of a local physician who works with international adoptions, including some pretty high-profile names.  At this event there was a somewhat well-known celebrity with his family.

Laura was working hard getting the reception hall ready as the service was going on. As she was doing something with a table in the hallway outside she realized that the service was ending and people were starting to head for the reception area. She needed to move the table, and there was a family coming down the hall and she just quickly asked the dad to help her move the table.

She only realized after it was done that Hugh Jackman has just helped her move a table.  (Apparently quite cheerfully and without any question).

I still have an orange lei I got at her memorial service where I see it every day, but thanks for the reminder Joanne.

I didn't know either of them personally but I remember them vividly as posters on MOL.

I frequently think of both of them.  I don't remember JTA so much for her work with animals but for her crusading attitude towards those who illegally park in a handicapped space. She would photograph their licence plates and report them to the police of whatever town where that occurred. 

Both gone too soon.     

I think about Laura everytime I add walnuts and cranberries to my salad.  She catered an event for me and her signature salad included both.  She promised I'd like it and she was right.  

I did not know Laura, but I did know Jeannemarie (Just the Aunt).

We first met when Bruce Springsteen began his E Street Band reunion tour in 2009, and there was a mad scramble for tickets and some disappointment.  Jeannemarie read my post about my difficulty in getting tickets, and messaged me here on MOL. She told me that she was getting some tickets, and invited me and my spouse to accompany her.  I was just one of the many people who were on the receiving end of her generosity of spirit.

They are both truly missed.  

When my son broke his neck 6 years ago Laura was right there to donate her delicious pulled pork sliders for the auction.   My brother had the highest bid and won the sliders.  He called Laura to see if she could make them for his New Years Eve party, and even though that was an extremely busy day for her she still said yes.  She had a heart of gold. 

The first time I met  JTA was when I gave her a check from the South Orange Elks.  She was helping her nephews with a fundraiser by putting out donation jars 

at local establishments.  Apparently some low life stole the money from one of the jars.   She was very upset (and mad) about that.  When I heard about it I asked the S.O. Elks (I was an officer at the time) to make a donation to the cause that would cover what was stolen.  When I gave her the check she acted as if I had given her a million dollars. 

Both of them are missed.

JTA wrote a post that, at least in my mind, was one of the most memorable I have ever read and right up there with other favorite and memorable posts like the Maplewood mousy theater one and the account that ctrzaska wrote about the bats. Except JTA’s story was not funny.

I’m hazy on the details and open to correction, but I remember her writing an incredibly poignant account of the night that 4 (I think?) young teens died on the train tracks in South Orange. She spoke about how her family was alerted to the deaths and wondered if her brother was among the dead. And while he wasn’t, his friends were. And she wrote about her brother’s struggles with addiction and his early death and how she wondered if the loss of his friends shaped his life. I remember the tears streaming down my face as I read it. It was such a vivid account, and so beautifully written that I think of it often. She deleted the post not long after writing it because someone told her she was over-sharing, I think.  I’ve always regretted she deleted it – it was a beautiful, sad, poignant story.

And I miss Laura’s presence in our community all the time!  Her courage and positive energy and sharp edges and cooking are unmatched.  I still have a bowl I was supposed to return to her, and think of her often. 

I really value the MOL friendships I’ve made over the years. And Jeanne-marie and Laura were two very special friends. 

Some time before sudden illness got in the way, Laura made contact with me here, on the phone. It really surprised me that she made that effort; we’d emailed before, but this was different. And I’m still very touched that she reached out across the world when she needed to talk, because her inner world felt so bleak (remember, she later wrote that thread?) and was so scared of disappointing everyone, of letting everyone/anyone down, of asking anyone for help. She honestly didn’t seem to realise how much people loved and respected her, she just didn’t feel worthy of any of it. And she felt felt the burden of expectation all that family love weighed on her, all the time. 

All of you who were her friends and who comforted her family, I thank you for helping her through that black time, and them through their grief in the last few years. I wish it had been possible to meet her

JTA, Jeanne-Marie, and I used to write offlist about disAbility issues, animal welfare, and (of course) her beloved nephews. There’d be school assignments involving this hemisphere I’d be asked to help with (I hope my mail arrived in time), thoughtful Christmas gifts sent for Minnie our cat and even a memorial gift sent after she ‘walked the Rainbow Bridge’. 

JTA always posted a copy of The Rainbow Bridge if someone’s pet died, and donated to a rescue service or shelter in their name. 

I think she must have been an incredibly busy volunteer, she always seemed to have several things on the go. And yet she also apparently lived with chronic pain, with great dignity and I would say a wonderful approach to life. Her sense of humour was exquisite. cheese

I was so shocked when she died, and cried for days. 

My memory of Jeannie will always be lovely. For many years she cared for my kids, they loved her too. She overcame so much in her life - to better the lives of others. And she had an edge, an attitude to call out the haters and BS. Her time was too short, she made the most of it!

JTA didn't like me much. And she said so. I think she thought I was a wiseguy and she didn't like something I posted on MOL. Or something I said. I don't remember.

Wiseguy? Moi? 

The_Soulful_Mr_T said:
JTA didn't like me much. And she said so. I think she thought I was a wiseguy and she didn't like something I posted on MOL. Or something I said. I don't remember.

Wiseguy? Moi? 

 She was certainly staunch in her loyalties, and she didn't tolerate BS cheese  At the same time, Monster's bunny had no greater fan outside his family.

Edited to rephrase: I don't think you write BS, but I think some people might sometimes quickly skim-read some of your posts and miss the point. Which is probably why you write that way cheese

They both prompted us to do the small things, daily, that make us our better selves.

I'm in touch with PeggyC and LisaT. But I've lost touch with Calli, Cynicalgirl, PhilC, Metaphysician and a few others who had moved away around those couple of years. There were upgrades, and I guess big changes in everyone's lives. I miss the snappy, funny VC threads that used to pop up, over nothing then would glitter with laughter for a day as Laura, Calli and Mem traded puns or  soothed us all with positive vibes and hugs, then we'd move on... 

I'm not sure who out of that old group of posters are still in touch with MOL friends. So many really felt like they were my neighbours cheese  Anyone who is in touch, please let them know I think of them often, and send regards.

JTA did not like me either because of something I posted about phonics.  But, I met her and I liked her.  She was adorable and unique and very determined.  

I also met JML a few times and ate at her restaurant and attended her funeral.  She was also adorable and unique and very determined.  

I knew both of them quite well and miss them both. 

A JTA story:  We were having tree work done on our yard. JTA showed up at the house and tried to convince the tree crew to leave work at our house and come with her to rescue a cat that was up a tree and would not come down.  To her dismay, the tree crew declined.

It's not often that you could say of a caterer that "I borrowed a Sawszall from her and then she told me that I could just keep it". I've since put a lot of mileage on that thing and I wrote her name on it to remind me where I got it from.

I'm also happy that I was able to help her with a number of projects over the ten years that I knew her.

I don't believe that I've ever met anyone else who could generate so many stories.

She was such a lovely pistol.

When MOL was named in a lawsuit and we were having a fundraiser at Bunnys to defray legal costs, JTA made several hundred tiny pencils with maplewoodonline.com printed on them.

JTA was also a force to be reckoned with when it came to people usurping parking spots marked for disabled people when they clearly didn't have the proper tags.

Her memory is a blessing to us all...


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