Jo Ann Jaacks: Holding on and letting go

A book full of memories

I don’t know who gave me this fanciful Asian-motif address book, but I have had it forever, it seems. Someone must have given it to me (my Aunt Mary?) Looks like something she would have gifted at Christmas or a late teen’s birthday, and most of the listings are after I left home in Connecticut.

I have family birthdays on the cover page with many updates and additions, names and contacts that are pre-smartphone, email or Facebook: dead Irish relatives, the woman in Fort Lauderdale who taught me how to be an interior designer in six easy and snarky lessons (supplying me with sufficient knowledge to get my certification in Florida); long lost, bemoaned, forgotten boyfriends; the three best friends I made at rehab; our beloved neighbors in North Miami Beach — Jean and Helene Bert — who opened a longlived (20 years) and much loved French restaurant named La Coquille on East Sunrise Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale; a bail bondsman (don’t ask); and the first of several attorneys, this one in Coconut Grove.

There are names that for the life of me I can’t recall, and names crossed off in bold red that I do. There are names I would love to reconnect with and those I never will. There is one ripped-out page under “J” when my husband left for five weeks and did not want me to contact his family in Germany to learn his whereabouts but I easily found my way around that barrier by enlisting a bilingual friend who made the call on my behalf.

Top of the list of those I would dearly love to reconnect with is Tom Shroder, my editor for Tropic Magazine, the Miami Herald insert, who taught me the intricacies of computers before there was Microsoft Word, and understood why I pulled the best feature story I would ever get in print. He also organized the awesome “Tropic Hunt” in Miami that was so convoluted that I never had a chance to solve it, never mind win it. And for that challenge, I am eternally grateful. Names in a book — book of my life.

Connecticut Media Group