Not just an obit­u­ary

I found this ar­ti­cle in­cred­i­bly hard to write. Los­ing Jac­qui is more than just be­reav­ing a col­league.

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Dr An­drew Az­zopardi Dean Fac­ulty for So­cial Well­be­ing, Univer­sity of Malta & Broad­caster – Għandi xi Ngħid­drewaz­

As Dean of this lovely Fac­ulty, num­ber­ing hun­dreds in aca­demic and ad­min­is­tra­tive staff and stu­dents, los­ing one of your own feels like a stab-in-the-back. To add in­sult to in­jury, Jac­qui was over­flow­ing with ‘life’ un­til a cou­ple of weeks ago mak­ing this sit­u­a­tion even more dif­fi­cult to fathom. Add to this that she was a faith­ful friend for al­most 30 years and you can un­der­stand the pain and sore­ness that Jac­qui’s demise left.

When we first met we were at univer­sity read­ing for our un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree. At the time the num­ber of stu­dents was diminu­tive by to­day’s pro­por­tions and we all knew each other and lit­er­ally ‘lived’ on Cam­pus. Like it al­ways hap­pens with heart­felt friends there were pe­ri­ods in our lives, some of them quite long, when our paths did not cross but nev­er­the­less ev­ery time we met it was as if our last con­ver­sa­tion hap­pened the day be­fore.

But as the ti­tle of this col­umn goes this is ‘not sim­ply an obit­u­ary’.

I do not want it to sound as if Jac­qui was fault­less, be­cause she wasn’t – like each and ev­ery one of us! How­ever, the beauty of Jac­qui was that her im­per­fec­tions suited her and she played around with these weak­nesses. She laughed about her­self but also loved her­self at the same time. Her in­ten­sity, her smile, her prompt re­sponses, her gleam­ing eyes were a blend of love­li­ness and exquisite­ness. Her hu­mour and abil­ity to share a story were top­most. At times you would read it on her face that she was sad or in pain but this did not take away any of her readi­ness to live. ‘You will be missed dear friend’. Need­less to say Jac­qui was in the front-line to put crim­i­nol­ogy stud­ies on the map, very true with oth­ers, but there she was tak­ing the lead in ini­tia­tives that gave that Depart­ment at our Univer­sity a pro­file like no other. The in­ter­na­tional sem­i­nars she or­gan­ised with her col­leagues, the var­ied aca­demic pro­grammes, the nu­mer­ous stu­dents that she taught, the pro­to­cols she de­vel­oped and joint in­ter­na­tional pro­grammes, the men­tor­ing and su­per­vi­sion are only a sam­ple of this end­less list in her pur­suit of aca­demic schol­ar­ship. Her eru­di­tion is un­ri­valled and she de­fended her stu­dents as if they were her own.

How­ever, even though Jac­qui worked hard she was also an in­cred­i­bly high-spir­ited per­son.

She also knew ex­actly how peo­ple felt the mo­ment she met them. She was al­ways there giv­ing ad­vice, telling peo­ple what was the best way to tackle life chal­lenges, what­ever the mat­ter. Jac­qui was ex­cep­tion­ally gen­er­ous, big-hearted and open­handed. I’ve heard sto­ries of her gen­eros­ity that would make your eyes pop out. Jac­qui had a colos­sal spirit. She loved end­lessly. She men­tions the death of her mother as be­ing the big­gest loss in her life, a sit­u­a­tion that she prob­a­bly never re­ally com­pletely re­cov­ered from. She con­sid­ered her father as be­ing a gem and would visit him daily. Her pa­tience, her non-stop ad­journ­ments on Face­book telling us all about her father’s pranks, were a man­i­fes­ta­tion of her un­wea­ried adoration for her dad. It is point­less to say that she loved her son Ra­mon to bits. He was the mimmi t’ għa­jne­jha – the bond she had with him was sim­ply amaz­ing.

But for Jac­qui life was not only about her.

Jac­qui loved serv­ing her com­mu­nity and her coun­try and spoke about in­jus­tices with courage and pluck. She was a lo­cal coun­cil­lor at Dingli and I know for a fact that even though she was a mi­nor­ity in the party she rep­re­sented she still man­aged to give a great deal of ser­vice to her vil­lage and had a fan­tas­tic work­ing re­la­tion­ship with the rest of the lo­cal coun­cil­lors. This time round she was also plan­ning to con­test the gen­eral elec­tion and was vis­it­ing homes not to sim­ply hunt for votes but to lis­ten to peo­ple’s griev­ances and to try and bring a change in their lives – be­cause Jac­qui’s life was all about go­ing the ex­tra mile.

‘Jac­qui, there is no play­ing around with words, you will be missed dear friend. You are an in­spi­ra­tion, a mo­ti­va­tor and a benev­o­lent soul. The moral of your story is that we need to work hard but also en­joy life. We need to com­mit our­selves to the ‘cause’ but also to our own needs and to those of the peo­ple close to us. We need to love be­cause in lov­ing and giv­ing we are loved in re­turn. You will not be for­got­ten be­cause there is a piece of you in so many of us.’

And as the last tune at the funeral-cel­e­bra­tion went;

You are the Danc­ing Queen... Danc­ing Queen, feel the beat from the tam­bourine You can dance, you can jive, hav­ing the time of your life See that girl, watch that scene, dig­ging the Danc­ing Queen

Danc­ing Queen (ABBA)

Dr Jac­que­line Az­zopardi (19692016), for­mer Deputy Dean and Head, Depart­ment of Crim­i­nol­ogy, Fac­ulty for So­cial Well­be­ing, Univer­sity of Malta.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent Wed­nes­day 9 Novem­ber 2016

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