Fuck Alzheimer’s and Happy Birthday Jill Gascoine

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JILL SISTER CITIES I’m angry. I am so fucking angry at Alzheimer’s.

Today is my best friend Jill’s birthday. She is 79 years old and the last ‘real’ birthday we spent together was when she was 75. It was only four years ago that her blue eyes shined, her stunning face glowed and her sharp witticisms flowed. She was ridiculously generous, ferociously smart and wickedly funny. For her 75th, I helped throw her an enormous party at which she was both literally and figuratively the life: The life of the party. Always. Because every time Jill Gascoine walked into a room, she brought life to it. They say some people have “it”…that unexplainable phenomenon that when they come near you, you feel a magnetic pull – an energy which charges your entire body.

Jill had it.

And this beautiful, celebrated, generous and funny woman is now Alzheimer’s prisoner. She got a life sentence with no fucking chance of parole. And I’m angry. I’m so fucking angry there isn’t a cure. I’m furious that this unkind and devastating disease took away the kindest and most spectacular person I’ve ever met. Jill touched so many people, with her work…with her art…with her heart. And it’s all trapped in a murky, unforgiving fog.

One of my all time favorite authors Gabriel García Márquez, who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s bastard cousin dementia, once said, “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

I amended his quote to: “What matters in life is not what happened to you but what you remember and how you are remembered.”

And while Jill can no longer remember the extraordinary personal and professional accomplishments in her incomparable life, she is remembered brilliantly. By her family. By her friends. By her colleagues. By her fans. By me.

And I realize it’s ridiculous to remember someone who is still alive, but I have to. Because she is still my best friend and I am still unbelievably angry. Not because she no longer recognizes me, but because every time I tell her how she changed my life, and countless other lives for the better, she responds with a blankness. Surprised that she did anything important. That she made a real difference. And it breaks my heart that someone responsible for so much goodness…Someone who championed the underdog like no one I’ve ever met… Someone who believed in people even when they didn’t know how to believe in themselves, is gone. Still here, but gone.

Fuck you, Alzheimer’s. Fuck you.

JILL AND COCO jillcolettescstill jill JILLCOCODIPPY

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Showing 8 comments
  • Chris

    How bizarre, that I find this after a bit of googling, just the day after you posted it. I am watching The Gentle Touch on DVD and have been enjoying Jill Gascoine’s performance so much. Even when the script is a bit rubbish, Jill is giving her all. I knew she was unwell, and am so sad to read that her illness has progressed to this extent. Your thoughts here are very touching. Best wishes to you, Colette, and to Jill’s family and friends. And, of course, to Jill herself. Obviously a unique woman.

  • Summer Crockett Moore

    Love you so much my darling. And Jill too! xoxoxoxo

  • Paula lloyd,james

    I’ve loved and been jill no one uk since I can remember and it’s heart breaking for me.too COlette to see her like this I.have her work on dvd. And her books which I tresure xx would love some more autograph. Pics I.have two from the iOS

  • Chellie

    Wow – I feel you pain – dealing with it with my Mom – she still knows us – but is so different with that blankness that you mentioned. I have heard it called the long goodbye and now I know why.


  • Lesley brenan

    Hi Colette how is your friend Gill Gascoyne? I have just read an interview with Alf and I’m so shocked that Gill is so ill. She was my hero as a child growing up with The Gentle Touch and other shows she did. How cruel that this should happen to such a tough lady. Xxx

  • Lesley

    My hero my idol always wanted to meet her
    Such a beautiful stunning lady so sexy
    Warm and yes I bet she could make the room go silent and turn heads so so beautiful

  • Lesley

    Beautiful inside and out I watched her as a child I’m now 43 I still watch her on gentle touch I wish more of us were like her absolutely sad really sad bless her
    Love you jill xx

  • Daphne Williams

    I’ve been watching The Gentle Touch on Talking Pictures 11.00pm in the week. I love watching it after all these years, I’d forgotten how brilliant Jill was in it and how she showed how difficult it was for a woman to work in a man’s world. It’s so sad she has that awful disease, her family must be devistated.

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