Monday, June 29, 2015


Jaclyn and the giraffe

Jaclyn is the only woman I can tolerate hearing my husband’s admiration for, the only girl I know to touch the head of a giraffe, and the a girl who helps protect our financial interests no matter where she is or what time it is.

We met when I was twenty nine, when we first moved to Sacramento.  Mario had taken the afternoon off to attain car and home insurance for us, and came home to announce that I had to meet our new insurance agent. 

“She’s a kick in the pants,” he gushed, smiling.  I was already jealous.  Mario has always been relatively clueless about the power he has over women. 

“Really?” I asked him, raising my eyebrows.  He looked at me and held up his hands. 
“Just meet her, then tell me she isn’t going to be one of our best friends ever.”

He was right. 

Jaclyn’s office wasn’t exactly traditional.  It was in a Victorian house in old Elk Grove, where the oak trees were massive and the streets still had hanging stoplights.  I walked in and she was smiling right at me. 

“You must be Janet,” she said.  “He said he’d bring you back and I didn’t believe him!”  The chairs in front of her desk were covered with her stuff.  An open computer bag, piles of files, a sweater.  She laughed and picked up a pile and transferred it to another chair.  “Have a seat!”

I liked her immediately.  We left about twenty minutes later, after we talked about everything but insurance.  We managed to set up a date for coffee.  She recommended a couple of good restaurants.
Jaclyn saw us through years of different cars, including the ones we bought for our kids when they first drove.  She helped us negotiate great prices, but even more than that – she was the epitome of what a good business person should be.  She knew us, liked us and wanted to help- and she was a kick in the pants.

Years after that first meeting in old Elk Grove, Jaclyn came to visit us in South Africa.  We reconnected quickly and she stayed for a couple of weeks, where we visited every place we swore we would when we first arrived.  She even went with me to a small business meeting in Diepsloot, where she offered business advice to two young entrepreneurs.  She met our friends, got to know our schedule, and… touched the head of a giraffe.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to get that close,” I laughed.  Instead of batting her away, the giraffe basically cuddled up against her, like a friendly horse.  It was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen.  The giraffe was genuinely a good judge of character. 

Jaclyn is a good friend – still is a bright star in our lives.  We call her our ninja, because she can do anything, anywhere in a stealth manner.  Afterwards, she acts like it’s no big deal.

Happy Birthday, Jaclyn.  You really are an incredible friend.  We are so glad that we know you – this world needs more kick-in-the-pants-ninjas.