Janine McCleland: A Celebration of Her Life

After spending the past decade in pain, undergoing numerous operations and ultimately becoming effectively bed-ridden about five years ago, Janine passed away on Tuesday 10th July 2018.

This is the family’s eulogy to a life taken far too young.

Just weeks before Janine died, she wanted to enjoy an afternoon out at a tea garden. Unfortunately, she was not feeling well enough to do so – that is why we are here today – to fulfil her wish.

Dean, Alesha and Gavin would like to thank each of you for joining them in doing so. She would have been so pleased to know that you are here.

The manner in which Dean first heard about Janine, did not befit that of a classical love story. After divorcing his first wife, he lacked the money to afford his house. The solution was to have boarders. Suffice to state that one of his last tenants, Jannie van Gemett, brought home a very inebriated female by the name of Heather one Friday night. Heather insisted that they play Monopoly. It was during this game that whilst spilling red wine onto his carpet that she queried whether he had any love interests. He did not at the time and had sworn off dating until superior fish entered the aquarium. She scribbled the name Janine Scotney on a scrap of paper together with a telephone number and pushed it across the dining table in his direction.

As a sign of thanks, he folded it up and placed it in his wallet, intent on NEVER to use it. In his mind, Heather was not his type at all and any recommendation would be cut from the same cloth, so he cast the offer of a date with Janine out of his mind. It was only several weeks later whilst working on the budget at Barlow’s Heavy Engineering on one lonely Saturday afternoon that the need for company before his date with Cathy at Greensleaves arose, and he found the scrap of paper, now rather worse for wear in his wallet. It was July 1984 and the Wimbledon Final was being played that afternoon.

He retrieved the tatty piece of paper and reread it: Janine Scotney. So Janine it would be. With a ready excuse in hand in case she was not obliging, he dialled. Janine answered but was partially inaudible due to voices and a TV playing in the background. He explained that he had a few hours to kill and on Heather’s recommendation, he had called. The word “Heather” prompted an audible silence and then “Oh”. Then “OK, I will see you just now.” What this meant, he would in due course come to understand.

On arrival at her home, a party of some sort must have been underway with all the vehicles parked outside. “Wow, popular girl” went through his mind. On answering the door, she explained that friends and relations were watching the Wimbledon finals. He could sit wherever there was space. After plonking himself down, he never saw Janine again. That is a lie. She was too busy serving tea and cake and being sociable with all the guests to have time to say “hi” or even a “heave oh” or “on the road Jack”. His time was up, and bided Janine a goodbye.

Janine with her parents and friends

Now for a proper date, sans family and friends. At the Oude Kraal, they made their first real acquaintance. The date merely reinforced his initial impression of Janine. She was definitely a cut above the rest. Feminine to her very core. He distinctly recalls the movement of her hand; so ladylike, so enchanting. He knew he would never let Janine out of his sight from that day forward.

Janine graduating

There was another reason for the attraction. Unlike a previous relationship, she was not clingy. They might have been in love, yet even though interests diverged, there was no attempt to restrict the other’s activities. For instance, Janine had a penchant for arts and crafts. Instead Dean was a philistine in this regard, yet he never restricted her continual output of artefacts. Likewise, she rarely chided him for hiking or running too much, except when they were on holiday and a race interrupted the family’s plans.

Janine during the snowfall in 1981 outside her parents’ home in William Nicol Street

Heather, if he should ever meet you again on life’s many byways, he would to thank you most profusely, for he owes her a debt of gratitude for introducing him to the love of his life; Janine.

One of the monumental decisions was what Janine’s nickname would be. “Love” was too common, “doll” was too kitschy, so he resorted to “Chocs” and Janine chose “Cooks”.

With Dean approaching his mid-30s already and both he and Janine wanting children, marriage was to be next on the agenda without much further ado. After getting married in court, they had a beautiful reception in the hall of La Salle College, where Janine worked. What they both forgot to do was practise their first dance, which did not go well. Seeing them fumbling about and almost collapsing in laughter, Janine’s parents and a few other guests rushed over to continue the dance and save Dean and Janine from embarrassment.

Two wonderful children followed shortly afterwards, Alesha and Gavin. Then came the second quid pro quo. As an only child, Janine was extremely close to her parents. Not that Dean minded at all that she visited them every day, but then she wanted her parents to live with them. Dean readily conceded, and they went looking for a house that could accommodate everyone.

Unlike one another in many ways, Janine had a natural maternal instinct.  She was an exceptional mother, with Alesha and Gavin always knowing how much they were wanted and loved by both their mom and dad. When they were little, Janine bore the brunt of their upbringing as Dean had to spend long hours working. As partial recompense, Janine first devolved all the shopping chores onto Dean with the proviso that the children “assisted” him. Unfortunately, as the children got older they would drag Dean around the shopping centre for hours each weekend. Throughout their lives, Janine was there to love, teach, guide, protect and support them. Alesha and Gavin have so many wonderful memories to look back on and to hold dear. When the children were little, Janine would let them do her make-up, leaving her looking like a clown. One their annual family holiday they would collect shells on the beach together. Each month they would be dragged to the public library so that Janine could pick the next 10 to 15 books that she wanted to read, leaving the children asking every five minutes as to when they could leave. Easter was always well and truly celebrated, with the Easter Bunny leaving treats all over the garden. The children would each be given a basket and assigned one side of the garden to start their hunt, eventually finishing with their baskets overflowing. This was followed by a scrumptious lunch and even more Easter eggs for dessert. Christmas was another big holiday in the McCleland household. Alesha and Gavin were always allowed to decorate the Christmas tree and would wake up on Christmas morning to find mountains of presents from Santa and the family. One year, when Janine thought that the children’s belief in Santa was wavering, she ensured that the reindeer assisted Santa in delivering their presents. When Alesha and Gavin woke up, Janine showed them the snowy hoofprints trailing from the fireplace to the Christmas tree, where Santa had polished off his milk and cookies. When the children were older, they were often allowed to have all their friends over for parties. Janine was always there with the kids to enjoy the party and dance the night away.

Janine in January 1975

If Janine had been given a second name, which she had not, “Dedication” would have been appropriate. Being a teacher, she always went the extra mile for her pupils spending hours every night developing interesting lesson plans. During her first few decades of teaching, she found immense joy in imparting knowledge and watching her pupils grow. Each year she would get her class involved in a project to raise money for charity, these included bake sales and creating recipe books to be sold. Over the years as the pupils and parents became more rowdy and disruptive, her pleasure in teaching waned. After leaving teaching she still gave extra lessons and art classes at home. As Janine got older she was always able to fondly remember the names of her former pupils.

Janine as a school teacher

Besides her love of reading, Janine was a natural as regards arts and crafts. She loved trying out new crafts and would spend many nights working on her art projects until the early hours of the morning. This extended to gardening. She loved dragging the family to various nurseries to find new plants for the garden – not that she would actually do the gardening herself but would attempt to delegate the hard work to Dean, who in turn would delegate it to the gardener. Unfortunately over the years, the dogs also assisted in the gardening process by destroying whatever plants Janine had bought.

Janine loved her holidays and travelling. The annual family holiday with the children and parents-in-law in tow, was the highlight of the year. Janine loved beach holidays, except that she hated big waves and could not abide sea sand. What that meant was that Dean was delegated to carrying chairs onto the beach as Janine refused to lie on a towel on the sea sand in case some stuck to her body and to play with the kids in the waves.

Janine and Dean at their wedding reception

Getting ready for school or to go out would always be a palaver. Applying make-up and getting dressed would take at least an hour. Dean’s abiding memory is that of Janine sitting in front of the mirror for what felt like hours painting her face and blow-drying her hair. But that was Janine. She was fastidious with her appearance. The negative aspect of this meticulous behaviour came when travelling overseas. Janine insisted on having a clean set of clothes for every day of their three-week trip to Europe in the 1990’s – this meant that they were overloaded. Despite this, whenever they arrived at a town, the first thing that Janine would do was to buy presents for the children, family and friends. She also loved to see all the sights and learn about the cultures. Janine often reminded Dean of an extremely bumpy air flight into Madrid through a thunderstorm when the plane bounced through the sky. She always claimed that Dean held onto her for dear life.

Janine with Alesha at her parents’ house in William Nicol Drive

Janine’s other love was for animals, especially dogs. When she decided that she would like to give a puppy a loving home, she would sneak it into the house and Dean would only find out about the new addition to the family once he got home from work or a run. By that time everyone had fallen head over heels in love with the puppy that Dean could do nothing about it, although he soon followed suit in falling in love with the new puppy. This procedure occurred with every animal throughout their marriage.

Janine with the kids and her father

By the time that Janine reached 50, the first inkling of her future health issues surfaced. First it was pain in her knees, and then in her back. This initiated a series of difficult and painful operations on her back, none of which was successful. Ultimately Janine was compelled to retire to bed as a solace from pain – even the tablets no longer had the desired effect. At this stage, minimal movement was still possible, but excruciating pain forced her to accept another operation, her fifth and final back operation. Janine also had various other health issues to contend with, the combination of everything lead her to be almost completely bedbound, in agony and on oxygen full-time. Through everything she continued to fight to get better and was so brave in doing so.

Dean and Janine’s plans for a contented retirement filled with holidays, seeing their children get married and plenty of lovely grandchildren were shattered, not now but 9 years ago when her health inexorably declined. Despite that, dreams of a bright future will still be had with her in their hearts and memories of her being shared.

In Cambridge in 1995 during an overseas trip

A piece of Dean, Alesha and Gavin died with Janine – an enormous void has been left with her death and their lives will never be the same again. Janine will never be far from their thoughts, will be deeply missed and continue to be dearly loved. She will always hold the biggest and most special place in their hearts.

They take comfort in the fact the she is no longer in any pain or suffering and is finally at peace. She never got over the death of her parents and missed them terribly. Now they have been reunited.

Goodbye my beautiful wife. Goodbye mommy.

Thank you for 34 wonderful years

Until we meet again.

Work end of year party
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1 Comment

  1. Beautifully written. So much love. I feel for you, dear new friend. I lost my husband after nearly 48 years of a wonderful marriage. We have two wonderful sons, and now two grandchildren. I wont say it gets any easier, however, the longing moves to a more comfortable place, when you stop to reminisce.
    I too looked after my dearest old man, it was always a pleasure and if tinged with sadness, it gave me time to accept that he would go, and that I would be left behind. My God and grace be with you. Hugging you from afar. bev


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