It is about seven years since we saw our dear friend Dame M off at the ripe age of 82. For a heavy smoker and drinker, that wasn't a bad age. Little did we know that we would be seeing her boarder, sometimes known as Jasmine, off at the not so ripe age of 63.
The Boarder rented one of Dame M's flats, which was adjoined to her own home. For around thirty years they kept both company and worked together in the fashion and manufacture of specialist fashion. You could read that as dressing the rich and famous, theatre costumes and drag queens.
A call came from our ex NT Politician friend on Friday night who asked if we had received a text from the person I call our Hairdresser Friend. She was closer to The Boarder than us and had received a call from one of his sisters to say he had died. We, and everyone The Boarder knew were in shock. For some months he had suffered from extreme itchiness of his skin and the doctors could not diagnose the problem. Eventually it was discovered he had a lymphoma cancer. A large growth was cut from his neck and was healing well. He had undergone chemotherapy and was 3/4 through his radiotherapy. A week ago he was staying with his sister in a Victorian regional city, with the sister giving him good support and feeding him up, and then he became quite unwell and she took him to the local hospital who quickly transferred him to his city hospital where he had received specialist treatment. Peter Mac, if you are a local person. He quickly began to fade and it seemed no matter what doctors did, they could not stop the process and eventually his sisters made the decision to let him go and life support was turned off and the physical response was almost immediate.
And then the phones, the text messaging, the emails and the FB posts started. I am as guilty as everyone.
Saturday night we caught up with a few friends at the local pub for a meal and The Boarder's death was most in our conversation. I could write forever about what has gone down, but no matter. The hospital where he died has requested a post mortem from the family and they have agreed. The hospital seems at a loss as to why he died, to be technical, why his lungs flooded with fluid. Btw, so far as I know, none of The Boarder's first class treatment has cost him anything. We pay for it in our taxes and that is how it should be, although he did complain about after therapy he had to catch public transport home when he was very shaky, and then a volunteer driver stepped up to provide car transport. This is strange because normally a hospital won't let you out of their sights after treatment without someone to accompany you, even after a minor procedure.
While we weren't really close friends, we would see him a few times a year when we all got together to celebrate birthdays. The last time we saw him was in November when we celebrated his own birthday and Jasmine's last drag performance was for the Brighton Antique Dealer's 80th birthday last August.
As yet we don't know the funeral details.
His death has hit R harder than me. I was ok until we met up with the Hair Dresser Friend and the presence of an mature woman, well 50ish, started my proper grieving process after a big and comforting mutual hug. Sunday after a late Saturday night where drinks were involved and I didn't wake until 8 and R until 10, what to do? Gay and Lesbian Midsumma carnival in the nice gardens on a pretty warm day? Nah. We are too old. Instead we drove to the Altona car wash where we washed the car and then headed for Altona Beach Village. Mid winter you could almost convince yourself that Altona Beach and the village is Melbourne's hidden secret. Not today when it was quite warm. Ten minutes of driving around looking for a vacant parking space had me saying, we should have caught the train but given the purpose of being that side of town was to wash the car, that is silly.
R and myself had a wonderful lunch at Creme. The food and coffee is terrific. It was busy and we waited for quite some time for our meal, but the atmosphere was so pleasant and the staff so nice, who cared. R perused the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper and I found I had a Telstra Air signal, so I looked at newspapers around the world.
I am thinking about whether I should include a photo of the late Jazzie, or his real life persona. Not sure. Maybe later.