I kept every paper I wrote

From Daryl Ortiz-Mashke:

I am so sorry for your loss…our loss.

I enrolled at UMA as a Nursing Student after a successful military career in 2002.  I took a required English class and after I submitted my first paper, Jill said to me: “You don’t belong in Nursing.  You have to change your major to English.”  This, despite all the red markings all over my paper!  I graduated 4 years later with a BA in English, grew to love Jill above all professors, and never missed any of her classes.  I kept every single paper I wrote. I am looking at a paper I wrote in 2002 and Jill’s words to me were: “You capture so beautifully, so incisively, a subtle concept of the novel. A nuanced, lyrical study, brilliantly capturing the implications and moods of the two novels.  Thank you.  May I have a copy to keep and reread?  The personal aspect makes the essay especially powerful.”   Her words were always inspirational.  She made me heed the beck and call of the English language.  I grew to love authors that I NEVER would have read, like Virginia Woolf and poets, like the Bard and even got to like Jane Austen – (just a bit, but the door is still open! After all I was a retired Naval Officer with 25 years of service to the nation – so Jane Austen was a little bit of a stretch!).

Being an older, non-traditional student, Jill welcomed me along with all the youngsters.  I felt included and an integral part of the class, even though I was a tough-as-nails military officer.  She smoothed my hard edges and helped me travel other-perspective journeys.    She encouraged me to explore the language, experiment with themes, and engage the characters.  I saw plots and sub-plots, I drew links and created tangled webs, I laughed, cried and held books close to my heart; I then wrote my reaction to the authors’ intentions.  Sometimes I even hated the reading and Jill encouraged me to express whatever I was feeling on paper.

Jill was a very special person and I felt very comfortable in her aura – as if my life was illuminated by her grace.  She was a kindred spirit. In fact, I moved to New Mexico a few years ago, and I hadn’t been back to Maine or even thought of UMA or Jill in awhile.  But, for some reason, and I really can’t explain it, I looked up the Kennebec Journal today online and saw her obituary.  How strange that after all these years, I would look at the KJ on the day that her obituary ran! I immediately pulled the dusty box of college papers down from my closet and saw her words of encouragement to me.  Perhaps it is her special place in my heart that drew me to read the KJ and allowed me to say a good-bye to an extraordinary person.  I am sorry for me and the thousands of students who had the privilege of knowing Jill Rubinson – she will be missed.  May she rest in peace.

My best to her family and friends.

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