Jack Knox: A marriage and a death: anniversaries on April 7 and April 11

Among all the strangeness, a couple of anniversaries slipped by last week, unnoticed by few but Hilary Jordan.

April 7 was the anniversary of her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Ian. April 11 marked the second anniversary of his death.

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Just a reminder that even during the pandemic, people have other things going on — significant things — in their lives.

You might remember Ian Jordan’s passing in 2018. It was remarkable because it came more than 30 years after the car crash that left the policeman in an unresponsive state, his heart beating but his mind stilled.

It was early on Sept. 22, 1987, that Jordan, who was supposed to be going off duty and returning home to his wife and infant son, instead responded to a call to a break-in alarm on Fort Street. He never got there. As he headed east from the old VicPD building on Fisgard, his cruiser was hit broadside by another police car at Douglas Street.

Badly injured, the then 35-year-old never regained consciousness.

For the next three decades, Hilary would visit Ian in hospital, often twice a day, even though his damaged brain wouldn’t allow him to wake. Just think of her doing that. Think of spending more than 30 years on the final page of a book, unsure of when it would end. And think of waiting 30 years to finally get to mourn. It wasn’t until after Ian’s full departmental funeral — downtown streets were closed as hundreds marched to the service at Christ Church Cathedral — that Hilary was able to do so.

In the early days after the crash, it was the need to care for son Mark, just 16 months old at the time, that saved her from sinking, she said. “I was so caught up in raising him that I didn’t have time to get caught up in grief and self-pity.”

And, of course, Ian, with whom she had fallen in love in Grade 12 when she was at Oak Bay and he at Vic High, was still alive.

But after the end finally came, so did the emotions. “The first several months were weird, not making those hospital trips,” Hilary said this week. “As well as losing Ian, I had lost my connection with the caregivers and residents at Glengarry Hospital.”

She soon realized she was grieving for two people, the Ian with whom she spent 17 years before the crash, and the one she knew for the next 30 years. She says she loved both versions equally, missed them both deeply. “It was double grief.”

Which makes her grateful to Brian Young for keeping Ian’s memory alive by launching a scholarship fund at Camosun College.

For Young, who has taught a pair of law-related courses in the college’s Criminal Justice Program for 27 years, setting up the Ian Jordan Endowment Fund felt like something he had to do, given all the connections between his family and the Jordans.

He taught Ian and Hilary’s son Mark, now a successful lawyer in Edmonton, when he went through the Camosun program. Brian’s father Walter was Ian’s favourite prof at the University of Victoria. Hilary ran the The Bay’s high school council when Brian’s own children took part. Brian’s grandmother’s was Ian’s mother’s best friend.

The endowment will fund scholarships for criminal justice students who plan to become police officers in Greater Victoria or elsewhere in the province. VicPD and its union have kicked in, as has Oak Bay’s force and a department in Ontario.

When Young mentioned the endowment the other day, the timing seemed odd, given the global crisis that is dwarfing all else.

Yet at the same time it was a reminder that the rest of life continues, that people are still experiencing their private joys and sorrows even while we aren’t looking in their direction.

For Hilary Jordan, this actually seems like a terrific time to think of those heading into law enforcement. “We really realize now how important they are.”

And yes, it’s heartening to know that even in the midst of a global drama, people don’t forget.


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