Some of my fondest memories of Jackie are with the New Bedford High School Marching Band, where she was in the colorguard. She truly found her niche with those kids, instructors and band parents (my husband, Jay, and I were chaperones). One memory in particular is the night of NESBA Band Finals held at Boston University. Jackie was in the midst of treatment for her leukemia, but was in good enough health to go along with the kids. She wasn’t allowed to march, but she “dressed” for the competition and stood on the sidelines, watching her friends march their little hearts out in her honor. When the time came for their official group picture, Jackie proudly took her place among her friends with a smile from ear to ear. As Jackie later told me, once she returned to the hospital for continued treatment, “Band is my life, Mom, I love it!”
Three months later, at Jackie’s funeral, 100+ members of the marching band served as honor guard (a surprise to me!), in full dress uniform, along the stairs of our church in memory of Jackie, the girl they all loved and admired for her strength, her kindness, and her beautiful smile.
Just prior to the death of my sixteen-year-old daughter Jacqueline to leukemia in 1990, my brother, Tom Mello, had been busy raising money to help finance a trip I would have needed to make to accompany Jackie while she underwent a life-saving bone marrow transplant at the University of Kentucky. Unfortunately, Jackie became too ill to travel and the procedure was cancelled. Knowing she would never be able to use the money personally, she made a wish list of items the children on “7 North” of the Floating Hospital for Children so desperately needed and asked that we see to it that this wish was fulfilled. Sadly, Jackie passed two days later.
It was then we established The Friends of Jackie Memorial Fund, which distributes scholarships, charitable contributions, and gifts for local families in need of assistance, as well as New England Medical Center’s Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, MA.
If you knew Jackie, would you kindly share a memory of her with us?
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Here’s a recent picture of my girls that I wanted to share!