S: For the Love of Jean By Avery Nicol
BC: "Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habits, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." -D.H. Lawrence
FC: For the Love of Jean: The Legacy of a Woman with No Memory
1: Alzheimer's: A Test of Time As each day passes my grandmother becomes weaker, and we her family are helpless in the realization that restoration to her previous existence is no longer possible. Having battled for the last four years post diagnosis, we are just now seeing the full effects in the relentless and inevitable doom that is Alzheimer's. As she falls farther away from reality, we wonder how this disease could have chosen someone like Jean; the true epitome of efficiency. Alzheimer's has similarly shown itself to be efficient as well. Like clockwork, this loss of brain function has destroyed her memory and regretfully taken her husband of over 57 years. For my Grandma Jean, relationships are not what they were, and conversations do not run smoothly as remembering has become impossible. With that said, it is important to note that by no means has there been a reduction in how much we care about her, but quite the opposite; she has become the person we think about the most. It is well known that Alzheimer's has no permanent cure. However, like an historical building, we must preserve her past and revere her efforts as she has been a bright light that has guided us to where we are now. Although her mind is not what it used to be, this makes it even more pertinent for us to carry on her legacy as being a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. So disconnected, yet as a result we have never loved her more.
2: Jean Katherinc Elliott was born on December 21, 1923 to parents Raymond Davis “Pat” Elliott, Mary Lou Farr in Long Beach, California
3: From an early age there was a high standard for excellence and big time production within the Elliott household. Her father Pat was an accomplished football coach at Cal Berkeley where Jean would later attend college. A skillful engineer, he gained recognition in the oil fields of Kettleman Hills and the Bakersfield area, for his innovations in improving technical problems in water intrusion. In having such a strong role model growing up, she developed an outstanding work ethic and was thus driven to greatness from the beginning. Throughout the years, she too would gain success in many aspects of her life.
5: Jean was very close with her younger brother John Elliott. Many say that he was her best friend as they shared many good times together . John became a Cal Berkeley football player attending Jean's senior year of college. As the years past, they made efforts to see each other and maintain this important relationship. They were there for each other up until he passed away ten years ago.
6: Jean's successes through college included her being elected class president in 1943, and later became president of the student body. This accomplishment was remarkable as she was one of the first women to do so at Cal Berkeley. In addition to this, she became senior editor of the University's newspaper the Daily Californian Spring of that year. After graduating from Berkeley with a major in Journalism, Jean worked for a well-known political radio called Voice of America located in New York City. There she became assistant to the president of the organization during the second world war, and aided in broadcasting information at home and abroad. By the end of the war, VOA had 39 transmitters and provided service in over 40 languages worldwide. | "Jean used to be all business. Totally organized and efficient. It was rare that she fell from this (of course until recently). She usually kept her feelings inside. She was supremely competent. Had she been born thirty years later, she would have been a CEO. She paved the way, and set the example for competence and efficiency. She was frustrated that she didn't do more herself, but she was a bridge from an earlier time. Now she doesn't even know. It's not fair." -Susan Nicol
9: Jean met Frank David Nicol through the Cal Alumni Association after inviting him to serve on her committee in Los Angeles. "It was a made to order combination. We simply enjoyed one another and that gradually translated into a serious relationship; it just happened to us." After a short five months of dating, the two were engaged and subsequently married on February 7, 1954 . The ceremony was held at Jean's parent's house in Garden Grove; it was here that the couple took their vows. They then moved to South Pasadena where they would begin their journey as husband and wife.
11: From 1955-59 Frank and Jean welcomed children: Susan, Todd, and Alan
12: Many wonderful memories followed..
14: "She instilled a work ethic, you were supposed to work smart and aim high. To me she was all about doing, and that's how she showed her love." -Todd Nicol
19: Jean was there as the backbone of the family, supporting in every way that she could in the education and extracurricular activities of the children - a peace keeper and a role model.
20: Vacation cabins on the Stanislaus River
21: Among the ventures partaken, Jean and Frank built a house in 1981 in Pauma Valley. This operation, which also constituted the planting of avocado and citrus trees, took nearly three years to complete. This beautiful farming community, located in San Diego County, was an ideal location for an avocado business and a home to retire in. It is where our family still resides.
22: Avery Jean Nicol | Grandchildren
23: and Emily Grace Leon | Taylor Jean Thibodeaux
25: "My favorite memory of her was when she would turn on the heater in the back house and come and tuck us in bed and read Aesops Fables to us; even if it was the same story over and over." -Emily Leon
26: Jean's fall from reality since 2007 has been utterly devastating for everyone. The rapid decline in her memory has now eliminated the identity of all family and friends; a very sad process to witness. The most simple of tasks have become insurmountable without support from others with independence is no longer an option. The frustration incurred from this helplessness and confusion has, as a result, eliminated any quality of life that once thrived. After all, what becomes of life when you have no memory?
27: "I’m not a husband, I’m not a father, I’m just somebody who showed up- Sometimes when I feel terribly sorry for myself I mostly just overlook it because there is no alternative" -Frank Nicol
28: As her memory fades Dimmer by the day, A brilliant woman with no recollection Is still waiting to go home Successful, articulate, loved by so many, A legacy, 88 years worth of knowledge and experiences, lost to a degenerative disease with no remorse Sometimes we see a glimmer of hope, But we all know that this too will disappear - just as before Her family trying desperately to hold on A soul longing to make those connections, Subconsciously, I know she must recognize us all I still get choked up when I think about how she has changed The irony so obvious - life is never what it seems