|Ross Jardine of Kamloops with a photo of the 1962-63 Kamloops Chiefs,|
who won the Coy Cup as provincial senior AA champions. The photo
was taken two years ago.
(Kamloops Daily News file photo by Murray Mitchell)
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports EditorAnother long day, one in a seemingly never-ending series, was just two hours from its dark conclusion.
Arline Jardine’s voice had more than a tinge of weariness to it. There was sadness, too. But overwhelming all of that was joy.
If you have never heard bittersweet, this was it.
Her husband, Ross, one of this city’s finest-ever sportsmen, turned 78 on Tuesday. He just didn’t know it.
On Monday, he had been the recipient of quite an honour when the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Canada saluted him with its annual Hall of Fame Award.
This award, according to the NMMA, “is a top honour, recognizing an individual who shows extraordinary achievements in the recreational boating industry. The award acknowledges individuals who over the years have made lasting contributions to the betterment of the Canadian marine Industry.”
Those who are selected for this honour are “true icons in our industry,” according to Rick Layzell, chairman of NMMA Canada’s board of directors.
Yes, it should have been quite a week for Ross Jardine. A birthday and induction into a Hall of Fame. That just doesn’t happen every week.
But he doesn’t know about the birthday or the award. Nor will he.
Ross Jardine has Alzheimer’s disease.
After working so hard to care for her husband of more than 50 years, for the father of their five children, for the love of her life, for her best friend, Arline could only watch earlier this month as Ross was moved into the Kamloops Senior Village, an assisted living care home.
“He has had a terrible downfall,” says Arline, who, with nursing help, tended to her husband’s growing needs for the last year.
“This is such a terrible thing for a man of his knowledge and brains and enthusiasm for life and everything. It just all has been stripped. . . .”
Two years ago, with his health beginning to fail, Ross was one of the runners when the Olympic torch relay took our city by storm. Watched and cheered by family, friends and former hockey-playing teammates, he ran with the torch on First Avenue toward Columbia Street.
It was an honour that was most deserved.
Jardine has been a resident of our city since 1944 and has given to the sports community in one way or another for many of those years. He played high school football here, and he played hockey. He was one of the Chiefs who won the Coy Cup as the province’s senior AA hockey champions in the spring of 1963. Later, he would serve on the Kamloops Blazers’ board of directors. He donated money, all kinds of it, to various athletic teams and organizations. He also gave vocal support and smiles and chuckles, and you can’t put a value on that.
He had owned the Jardine Sport Shop and later Jardine’s on Victoria Street. Ross Campion Jardine — that’s his full name — started up Kam Sport Marine which morphed into Campion Marine Inc., a Kelowna-based boat building business he co-founded with Gordon Elliott.
On Monday, while Jardine was being honoured during the Toronto International Boat Show, Campion issued a news release trumpeting the introduction of six new models.
According to an NMMA news release, “Campion Marine has been building high-performance sport boats and cruisers for 37 years. . . . Campion Marine manufactures 55 models of boats ranging from 9 to 30 feet in length and market and sell their boats through their dealer network in over 30 countries.”
We’re talking big stuff — iconic stuff — here.
Arline and Ross’ son Rex was in Toronto to receive the Hall of Fame award, along with Brock Elliott, the general manager of Campion Boats.
“I can’t think of somebody who deserved something like this more,” says Rex, who is in Kelowna. Then he adds: “There were mixed emotions.”
And they may do it all over again next month at the Vancouver International Boat Show.
Once again, though, Ross won’t be aware of it.
Alzheimer’s plays no favourites. It strikes seemingly wherever it wants. Nothing matters. Neither sex nor race. It hits and it takes what it wants and it never leaves. There is no cure.
It also takes a huge toll on family members who often take on the role of caregiver and can only watch in bewilderment as people like Ross Jardine, not that long ago so alive and vibrant, become less than shadows of their former selves.
“It’s a terrible disease, to take someone so strong and . . .,” says Rex, 48, who has four sisters — Nancy is younger, Terry-Jo, Arlana and Jody are older. Nancy lives in Langley, the other three are in Kamloops.
“It’s tough . . . it’s tough,” Arline says, her voice cracking. “It’s really, really tough to come home after visiting him to an empty house.”
It wasn’t that long ago when Arline and Ross left their home on the turf farm just east of Rivershore Estates for a condo in the city.
She does find comfort, however, in knowing that neither she nor Ross is alone.
Rex says there is a positive side to it all, in that it has brought the family closer together.
“It’s really great,” Arline says, her voice striking a cheerful note. “We have a lot of family and they’re wonderful. He’s got company nearly all the time. There’s always somebody up there.”
And, yes, her husband now is a Hall of Famer.
“This is such an honour . . . for Canada . . . and he will never know he has won it,” Arline says, her voice cracking.
“But what a nice finality to his life. It is . . . really.”