The Tracy Way

by Lyn Mason

I have been offered asparagus by a kind neighbour, which — otherwise — she tells me, she will compost.

And so I accept, in the hope that these most noble of vegetables will have fulfilled their intended lives. If I don't take them, their inevitable outcome would be a sad loss, and not The Tracy Way.

Tracy Jameson in Maggies Cancer Support Centre at the Churchill Hospital Oxford in conversation with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
©2020 Photograph reproduced courtesy of The Oxford Mail & NewsQuest.

Life presents us with opportunities which we either accept or reject. How I met Tracy Jameson - and when - is not now important, but, at the time, I instinctively sought her friendship even though at first she seemed reluctant.

Until the day Tracy died, I remained her friend and she mine. We would not have wanted it any other way.

Tracy was extremely well travelled. The whole world her home: self-motivated, determined, loving of her children, her animals, her pupils. Her insights into human behaviour were second to none.

When her eldest daughter, Jessica, went up to Balliol College at Oxford to study Medicine, Tracy decided to move to Peru with her youngest, Mathilda, who was only seven. Tracy's reasoning was simple: no-one wants your family so close by in your University city.

Tracy came back six years later to live in Kidlington to be Deputy Head of Mabel Pritchard School, a special school for young people with complex needs.

While in Peru, young Mathilda learned to ride with the local cavalry. She progressed to win many competitions, riding the General's horse, Oreo. A few years later, Tracy heard that Oreo was due to be put down. Tracy was outraged.

Tracy Jameson with Oreo.
©2020 Photograph reproduced courtesy of Tracy's family.

"Oreo should be enjoying retirement. He gave his life to the cavalry. He should not be destroyed," and so she arranged to have Oreo flown to England and put out to pasture. Tracy was not wealthy, and to help pay for his keep she worked on the tills in Kidlington's Co-op in the High Street to help with the costs of looking after Oreo.

Oreo did not live long, but he had a further chance of life thanks to Tracy, which he would not have had in Peru.

Tracy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around the same time as Oreo died.

She took the same attitude to her own care as to Oreo's rescue: take the treatment because the outcome was a certainty if rejected. Now, that's The Tracy Way.

Tracy left Kidlington after responding well to chemo and surgery, moving to Bute off the Scottish coast to be near Jessica, now a doctor in Glasgow. Mathilda went too.

Tracy re-designed the garden of her cottage to include an asparagus bed.

Her optimism to fight for life was evident. It takes two years to crop asparagus after planting. She wanted to believe that she would indeed eat those spears. I too wish to eat those spears, and I shall soon plant mine as Tracy did.

Miriam Margolyes with Kidlington's Tracy Jameson who featured in the BBC2 television documentary Miriam's Dead Good Adventure.
©2020 Photograph reproduced courtesy of the BBC, Wild Pictures Productions, and Marie Curie.

Before her move to Bute, Tracy had auditioned and had become 'the Blue Wig lady' on a TV advertisement campaign for the support offered by Lloyds Bank and Macmillan to people diagnosed with cancer.

Later, Macmillan contacted her to take part in a program called 'Miriam's Dead Good Adventure', which Tracy accepted.

She saw the rushes of the programme and approved them. Sadly, Tracy died a few days later, in January 2019, cared for by Marie Curie in Glasgow, and, alas, without tasting her beautifully grown asparagus spears.

Tracy took the opportunity to leave us a legacy. If you care to watch our dear ex-Kidlington resident in her final days, please find the television documentary with Miriam Margolyes, and you will see why I love her so much.

Lyn Mason was a close friend of Tracy Jameson who lived in the village of Kidlington, Oxfordshire.

To read more about Tracy's television documentary with Miriam Margolyes please visit the Marie Curie website here.

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