I’m sorry to tell everyone that Old Jules (Doyce M. Purcell, “Jack”) passed away last Tuesday, April 14, 2020. He was 76 years old.
He had a variety of health problems which increased and then stabilized over the last several years, but his heart was very weak and after another heart attack, he knew he had to try the next procedure recommended by his cardiologist.
Over the week of his hospital stay, he ended up testing negative for coronavirus, survived a risky heart catheterization, and had surgery to repair the blocked artery which he hadn’t known about. However, he was not strong enough to then survive the heart ablation that was recommended.
I last saw him March 23rd, just before the “shut down” of both our counties began. We were well aware we might not see each other again, but the worries at that time were to keep him protected from the virus.
He found the whole coronavirus situation extremely fascinating, as he had a background in both public health and emergency management and also a passion for history. He was really hoping he’d survive long enough to see how it all developed.
He recently bought himself a hand-held voice recorder, and spent several hours over the last two weeks recording all kinds of day-to-day commentary, poetry, and updates on what was happening during the hospital visit. I have not yet listened to all of this… probably there are items of interest that should have gone into this post.
I recorded one of his last phone conversations, which was all about Robert Frost, Kipling, and Archibald MacLeish. He was very much enjoying hearing recordings of Frost and MacLeish reading their poetry on YouTube while he was in the hospital.
One of his favorite poems was “IF” by Rudyard Kipling. He kept a copy of it in his wallet for many many years until it disintegrated, but always considered that poem to be a way of checking on his own spiritual progress, a compass of sorts. We recently discussed the problems with the ending of the poem, which makes it a bit off-putting in these modern times and less popular with most women. But he was pleased as could be that my granddaughter and I are memorizing it together.
He introduced me to a whole range of new music, for which I’ll always be grateful. John Prine, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Tom Russell, Nanci Griffith, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, and others. But he also had a passion for opera, and had season tickets to the Santa Fe Opera when he lived there.
He read all the time, in fact, he told me how he used to read a book while driving his commute from Socorro to Santa Fe. He always had a book with him when he ate at a restaurant, even if I was with him (in case I had to leave the table briefly he would have a book to read). He stocked two unofficial Little Free Libraries on the grounds of the VA campus where he lived. When he went to the hospital he took along a collection of Robert Frost’s poetry and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera. He introduced me to several of his favorite authors, including Kurt Vonnegut and Terry Pratchett.
He spent many years searching for the Lost Adams Diggings gold mine, and while he never found the gold, he wouldn’t have traded the years of experiences related to the search for anything.
Y2K provided his next big adventure. He cashed in his retirement, bought land, and moved off the grid in anticipation of the end of the world as we know it. In doing so, he created his own y2k, but again, it was an experience he never regretted.
He spent several years studying and practicing energy work, was a Reiki Master, and had some successes as a healer. Several people called on him regularly for help with Hepatitis C (two complete cures that I remember), fibromyalgia symptoms, asthma attacks, panic attacks, and headaches. He was always amused that the results of what he did were undependable, shocked when the results were exactly what was intended, and mystified that people so frequently did not want healing. He was frequently impressed by the accuracy of the I Ching.
He self-published four books, two as paperbacks: The Lost Adams Diggings: Myth, Mystery and Madness, and Hell Bent for Santa Fe: The Texan-Santa Fe Expedition of 1841, and two as e-books, Desert Emergency Survival Basics (Heartache and Heartburn) and Poems of the New Old West: Cowboys, Casinos, Truckers, and Trotskyite Dogs. After he moved back to civilization, he enjoyed blogging on several different sites, but eventually quit blogging in favor of other activities. He participated in several forums and headed up a variety of Facebook groups. He had a lot of hobbies, most recently, wood-working– he refinished furniture and made canes, some of which he gave away to other veterans around the VA complex where he lived.
He leaves behind his most recent cats, Mr. Midnight and Miss Naiad. He always loved his cats, and frequently re-used cat names on succeeding generations of cats. Mr. Hydrox, Mehitabel, and the previous Miss Naiad, among others, will all welcome him if he sees them again. (His two cats have gone to loving friends).
It would be impossible to list his adventures, accomplishments, and skills. He frequently joked that if he were to write an autobiography, no one would believe it anyway. We have lost one of the greatest friends anyone could ever have, one of the most entertaining writers, and one of he kindest people I have ever known. He would remind us all to be grateful for every little thing. One of his affirmations was “I’m grateful for everything that’s happened, everything happening right now, and everything that’s going to happen.” Please remind yourself of that in his memory. And enjoy the music.
The Pilgrim by Kris Kristofferson
(Please excuse any layout errors or other mistakes in this entry. It’s been a long time since I used WordPress and I’m unable to preview the post).
Best wishes to everyone,