The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Archive for May, 2009

jeremiad

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on May 9, 2009

Jackson familyFor those of you who know me and my family personally, you know why this blog has been inactive for so many weeks.

I had every intention of writing about the rest of NCAAs before writing this post, but I just can’t do it.

A month ago today, on April 9, 2009, I woke up to find a text from my mom.  It said, “Call me as soon as you get this.” It had been sent in the wee hours of the morning, so I knew something bad had happened.

I called her and she told me that my dad had been in a motorcycle accident and that he didn’t make it.

I have tried writing about NCAAs, and I tried to convey the disappointment that we all felt.  I intend to write about the banquet at the end of the meet, because I was so proud of my sister, and I want to write about it.  But thinking of that disappointment and shock seems so superficial after losing my dad.

I will continue to write about swimming, especially since my dad loved reading this blog.  He told me so many times.  I also learned, when I was in El Paso, that he talked about it with his friends and co-workers.

Spending time at home, listening to so many people share their memories of Dad, I realized what a thoroughly good person he was.  I never doubted how much he loved us when he was alive, but I think we were all surprised how willingly he helped others.

My mom says that he was not a saint, but from where I sit, I have no criticism or annoyance to remember.

This blog is called “The Other Daughter” and to some it may seem that I resent my all the attention my sister gets for her swimming.  I certainly don’t.  My dad was one who got the joke.  He would, since I inherited his sense of humor.

I suppose some day that thought will comfort me.  Right now, I just wish I could laugh with him again.

I miss you Dad.  I love you.

 

If anyone has stories about Dad and what a devoted swim fan he was, please comment on this blog.

Thanks.

His obituary: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/elpasotimes/obituary.aspx?n=keith-jackson&pid=126043501

For those of you who didn’t read it on Facebook:

El Paso Times (TX)

April 9, 2009
Section: News

Updated: Highway sign hits motorcyclist; he dies in crash
   Darren Meritz / El Paso TimesEL PASO — Keith Jackson, husband, father and motorcycle lover, seemed to have everything under control until he left work early Thursday in the windy darkness.

An accountant, he had stayed late at the office because it is tax season. Jackson had driven thousands of miles on his motorcycle, but nothing could have prepared him for the bizarre circumstances leading to the crash that took his life in Northeast El Paso. 

Riding his 2002 Honda Goldwing, he struck an exit sign that had broken and was swinging in the roadway as he exited from north U.S. 54 to Dyer. Police said they believe the sign broke because of high winds, which reached nearly 60 mph Wednesday night.

After hitting the sign, Jackson, 53, crashed and died on the roadway about 1 a.m.

Police said he was wearing a helmet and was not speeding. Wind, they said, was the big factor in the accident.

Always a motorcycle lover, Jackson never lost the urge to take in the open road. He often pressed his wife, Martina, to come along on a cross-country motorcycle trip like the one they took in 1980. They traveled from Portland, Maine, to Seattle, then to Southern California, where his parents live.

“Ever since we met in Boston – his first motorcycle was a Yamaha 400 – he just always enjoyed them,” Martina Jackson said in an interview hours after his death.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, both college students.

One of them, 22-year-old, Lara, is a champion swimmer at the University of Arizona. She competed last summer for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, missing by six hundredths of a second in the 50-meter freestyle.

Older daughter Carly Rose, 26, is a graduate student in journalism at Emerson College in Boston.

Martina Jackson said her husband for decades had a fascination with motorcycles.

“You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the Redwood Forest from the back of a motorcycle,” she said.

Keith Jackson came to El Paso in 1981 when he was stationed at Fort Bliss with the Air Defense Artillery. He went on to get his accounting degree at UTEP, then made a home and raised his family in El Paso.

He went home for dinner Wednesday night before he returning to the office, his wife said. He had been spending extra hours preparing tax returns ahead of the April 15 deadline, and probably was on his way home when he crashed, she said.

“He came home for dinner and we talked a little bit,” she said. “It sounds like it was a freak accident.”           Earlier this week the couple went to Tucson, where they attended a banquet for the University of Arizona swimming team. Keith Jackson was especially proud of Lara’s performance at the NCAA meet in March, when she set three American records in individual and relay events on the first day of competition.

In recounting the moment for El Paso Times Sports Editor John Erfort, he talked about how proud he was and how well life was going. Already, Erfort said, Jackson was thinking of 2012 and the prospect of Lara making it to the London Olympics.

Martina Jackson said she was awaiting word from the El Paso medical examiner, who she hoped would have more details about his death.

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NCAA Friday: the impossible happens

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on May 9, 2009

Lara puts on her competition suit.The first event of Friday was the 200-yard Medley Relay.  U of A women have owned this race since Lara was on the team.  The Wildcats have the American record from the 2008 NCAA meet.   Hailey DeGolia, Annie Chandler, Lara Jackson, and Anna Turner swam 1:35.29.  This year, the Arizona women planned to break that record so that no one could touch it for years.

Naturally Lara was in a good mood.  I caught her while she deck-changed.  That is, she changed from her warm-up suit into her competition suit while on deck, instead of going into the locker room.  All swimmers do this.

The best part was when Lara’s teammates helped her out.
Deck change: a team effort.

Deck change: a team effort.

Texas A&M distributed seats in such a way that a few Arizona fans were stuck far away from the competition pool.  We were the B section.  For Lara’s events, though, Mom was given a seat so she could video-tape.

Because my family was stuck in the boonies, I ran over to the good side of the pool so that I could see Lara’s races better.  Arizona fans often made a nuisance of ourselves.  The Aggie ushers were constantly telling us not to crowd the rows.  But most races take less than a few minutes, so we mostly ignored them.

The last heat of the preliminaries for the 200-yard Medley Relay, I was crowded with a bunch of other spectators who wanted a better seat for this race.  I also wanted to get good shots of Lara swimming butterfly.  I had a good vantage point, but I was keeping an eye out for the Aggie usher, because I didn’t want him to bug me.  Danny was standing right behind me.

The backstrokers jumped into the pool.  The buzzer went off, and I saw Hailey DeGolia flinch.  Then she was still holding onto the block while others were swimming.  Then the horn that announces a false start sounded.  Some swimmers didn’t hear the horn, so the officials tried to get their attention.  I turned to Danny, who swam competitively.  “Does this mean they can’t compete?” I asked him.  He gave a nod and a shrug.  Nobody knew what would happen.

We soon found out. Arizona was disqualified and would not compete in this race.

This DQ brought the energy among the Arizona fans to a screeching halt.  We hoped and prayed that the swimmers would be able to push through this horrible set back.

It was a silly accident.  It showed us that you can plan, and train, and work as hard as possible, but chance can still derail all careful plans.  We cheered and pushed until the very end of that weekend, but the girls just didn’t have the heart to break through the entropy.  They did their best, but it wasn’t enough to win the NCAA title.

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