Requiescat in pace, Hugh Jones

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Hugh Jones, the husband of Bruce Blakemore, has died.

Bruce is the sister of an old friend, John Blakemore. John has lived in Australia for many years now with his Australian wife Julie. Before that John and Julie lived on the island for many years. Julie played and taught violin (still does), and John got his degrees to become a drug counselor after working in theater during his early adulthood.

John was a dear friend of my husband Rick. They met when John was stage managing at the Seattle Rep in 1971 and Rick was repairing and refinishing furniture used in plays there. They hit it off, and John and his family have always been like family for us.

John and his sister Bruce (named for her Great Aunt Bruce) both worked in theater. Bruce’s husband, Hugh Jones, also worked in theater, as well as television and movies.

Bruce and Hugh live in Nova Scotia. John lived there with them for a while, in a brief attempt to immigrate to Canada back in the 70s. In 1978, he bought a house here on the island. Soon after that, while visiting England, he met Julie on a train. They began to talk, hit it off, and the rest is history, as they say.

They married the next year. After living on the island for seventeen years, they and their daughter Clare moved to Australia so Julie could be near her family and get warm again. They now live in a beach town north of Sydney. Even though they are across the Pacific Ocean they still feel like close friends to me and other people on the island.

Bruce and Hugh came to visit John here right after John bought his house in 1978. They and some other old friends had a rather riotous few days reuniting and getting to know John’s house and the island.

In 2002 Bruce and Hugh were in Vancouver, B.C., because Bruce had a job stage managing a play there.

As it happened, Clare was here on a stopover between New York and Sydney. I drove her up to Vancouver to visit with Bruce and Hugh. We arrived literally at the exact moment Canada defeated the United States in the Olympic ice hockey competition. People were going wild, throwing their windows open and yelling, waving flags, literally dancing in the street. It was a giddy atmosphere.

We spent a lovely couple of days with Bruce and Hugh, exploring downtown Vancouver and Grenville Island and seeing the play Bruce was working on.

Then last Sunday this email arrived from Bruce. She apologized for it being a group email, but she did not think she was up to contacting everyone individually.

She said Hugh died on Saturday. He was killed by a fast-moving and extremely aggressive brain cancer. They were having a normal summer, she said, biking and gardening. No sign that he might be ill. On Friday, August 2, he got a headache, and instead of going away it got worse. On Thursday, the 8th, they called an ambulance for him; by Friday night he was in the ICU; Saturday evening he died.

I could not possibly be as blindsided as Bruce is, but I felt stunned by this news. I wrote my condolences to Bruce and the rest of the family.

John Blakemore has written to me, “I had known brother Hugh for nearly 50 years—always there and now he’s not, at least not in the physical form we knew him—a delightful man of many skills, a man who delighted in both the ancient and the novel. Like Rick, nothing delighted him more than a healthy puzzle as a challenge that lead to an insight, an ah ha moment, a reward of a more spiritual nature as he understood a bit better not only how the object of the challenge worked but also how the universe was functioning at that moment and then the smile would come upon his face.” Hugh Jones.

It stinks when someone who has been part of your world, of your consciousness of reality as you understood it for the last fifty years, is suddenly gone. I find myself wanting to wrap my arms around Bruce, to hold her and listen to Hugh stories all night long.

But it’s a long drive to Nova Scotia, and I couldn’t hold on to her for months, or years.
So, I shall write to her, and hold her with my words as best I can.

One minute you’re saying to someone, “See you later,” and then later comes, and they are gone.

Rest in peace, Hugh Jones. I hope you know that you made our lives better by your being here.

Bruce asks that in Hugh’s memory you perform a random act of kindness or tell a story.