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Peter Mallory's Blog

By pmallory - Posted on 14 September 2015

7 August 2015

Joan Lind Van Blom has entered hospice. We all have known for two years now that something like this was probably coming. But it has hardly seemed real, for we all have known that if there is anybody on Earth who deserves to live forever it is surely Joan.

And she will. In our hearts.

I have known Joan for most of my life, starting in August of 1972 in Hannover, West Germany, but in all the years since we have only run into each other now and again, at the boathouse, at regattas . . . unless we made a special effort to meet.

Sadly, we did that all too seldom. Here is a group of special friends at our house to meet Dan Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat. [photo sadly missing from this reprint]

Each time we got together we would both say something like, “We should definitely do this more often!” but then days would turn into months.

There always seemed to be no rush. After all, every time I see her, we pick back up as if we had never been apart. Even today, especially today, I can close my eyes any time I want, and she is with me. Her smile. Her example. Her infectious enthusiasm about life. I remember visiting her in the hospital two years ago, and she couldn’t stop giggling, for Heaven's sake!

I am so proud to be counted among Joan’s special friends for 43 years now. She was a major inspiration for my first book, and one of the most precious memories I have of writing The Sport of Rowing is my collaboration with Tom and John and Joan to ensure that the memory of her contribution to rowing history will now outlast her . . . and the rest of us, too.

Joan did not choose this ending to her life, but oh my, she has made the very best of things.

I ask you. Has anyone of you ever seen anyone so embrace life as Joan has done these last two years? Has anyone of you ever seen a partner as supportive as John? Does anyone of you know of a more fortunate person anywhere than John Van Blom? Even today?

Joan, I hope your final days are peaceful. The world will forever remain a much better place as all of your friends continue to be guided by your example.