#23   February, 2002 

Died on 22 December, 2001

This page is written monthly by Harumi Okochi,
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SAYONARA, Jacques Mayol !

On c 23, 2001, Jacques Mayol was found dead at his house on the Island of Elba, Italy.
It was a death by his own determined will.
This page is dedicated to Jacques by his two friends in Karatsu, Japan.
Karatsu was the place where Jacques learned diving and met his first dolphin at the age of  6.

On January 5, 2002, Atsushi@Takashima@visited me, Harumi Okochi, at Yoyokaku.
Atsushi had just come back from his journey to Italy to attend the funeral of Jacques Mayol. We talked about the sudden death of Jacques. We talked how we could accept his deed, how we should pay proper respect to this hero of the sea at his departure from this world, and how we could mourn him here in Karatsu, which Jacques always mentioned as his cherished memories of his beautiful mother and his happy childhood.

So, we planned something we could do. Atsushi will write on his web-page about Jacques's days in Karatsu. The page will be written in Japanese only. Atsushi escorted Jacques fully whenever he was here. Atsushi himself is a diver, and he instructs diving and also has a diving shop in Karatsu. He is a good photographer, too. He has many precious photos of Jacques's days in Karatsu. In a due course, he will plan some kind of memorial gathering of the fan-divers at Jacques's favorite sea of Karatsu.
Then what shall I do?
I have already written about Jacques and Karatsu on my web-page. So, I will add this page as a memorial number for him.
Atsushi lets me use his memorandum and photos of the journey.

First I wondered if someone's funeral could be an adequate topic for a web-page. But a second thought made me decide to write this. Because I myself was sorry that I could not go to Italy to attend the funeral. I know there are many people who feel the same. When we look at the pictures, we would feel as if we were there. We can say Sayonara to him together.

Thank you for your kind thought for Jacques, and I hope you will light a candle for him tonight.


, Jee-chan  
 *'Jee-chan' fondly means Grand-dad, or Old man.   

                            by Atsushi Takashima
                                                                                                                                           (Translated by Harumi Okochi)

Standing beside his coffin.
It was 10:30 in the morning of December 27, 2001. The coffin was laid in the mortuary of a hospital on the Island of Elba, Italy.
I tried to hold my tears to have a clear view of Jacques's face. He seemed to be meditating in yoga.
Hitoshi and Yukiko were sobbing and calling "Jacques!" Jyunji was silent and staring at Jacques.
A long period passed, I felt, but maybe it was only two or three minutes. We were just standing beside the coffin.

Three days before.
At 8:00 am, December 24, 2001. I was out in Amakusa on a diving job. Hitoshi Narita called me from Tateyama. "Jacques is dead. He hung himself." He explained the situation in short sentences.
In the late afternoon, it was arranged that we would leave Tokyo for Italy at 13:00 of the 26th.
Hitoshi Narita, a diver and the best friend of Jacques, Jyunji Takasago, a marine-photographer, Ms Yukiko Yoda, a former translator for Jacques, and me. We four were going.

Left for Milano. 12:45 December 26, 2001
In the plane, nobody talked about Jacques as if we were prohibited to do so. We talked about trifles. Arrived at Milano in 11 hours and a half. Arrived at Pisa via Rome before midnight of December 26 of Italy time. Left Pisa Central Station at 5:44 am. Arrived at Campiglia Marittima at 6:50. Arrived at Piombino at 7:40. Breakfast at the waiting room of the ferry.
The boat left at 9:15, and it would take us an hour to arrive at Portoferrajo, Elba.

The Island of Elba was not too far. We were getting closer to our old man.
Blue sea and white houses. The scenery of Italian island! Snow on top of the rocky mountains.
Marina, the wife of the late Gaetano Donati who had been the life-time best friend of Jacques, met us at the port. She took us to the hospital where Jacques was laid. We had expected a crowd of people there, but were rather surprised to see only few people. Maybe we were late. There were only flowers. Marina signed us to proceed to the coffin. We saw him.

All of a sudden we realized that Jacques was really gone.
We could not control our emotion. We cried.
At 12:20 we started to prepare for the farewell. Marina and we 4 filled the coffin with flowers. We touched him, kissed him goodbye, and the coffin was nailed.

Jacques's house was on a high cliff facing the sea.
In the distance we could dimly saw the Island of Monte Cristo. This is the sea Jacques Mayol loved more than any place and wanted in his will that his ashes should be spread. Here, from this terrace, in the Mediterranean sunshine, Jacques looked at the aquamarine sea beneath, adoring his dolphins, meditating in his Grand Blue.
For an instance, I imagined I saw his sun-tanned smile.

Back to Piombino by ferry to go to Livorno, where Jacques would be cremated.
At the crematory, Hitoshi and Marina made speeches, and the coffin went in.
Three hours later, Marina came out with the urn of Jacques's ashes. We held it in turn. It was warm. We whispered to each other, "Jacques got so small." We told each other that Jacques must have turned into a dolphin.
We saw Marina off at the port. She held the urn in her arms and went back to the island. We waved our hands. Good-bye, Jacques, good-bye, Jee-chan!

That night, we could at last talk about the great Jacques Mayol.
We talked about his friendly and joking smiles. Mischievous boy. Sometimes uncontrollable like a spoiled child. Joyfully proud when his 'prophecy' about weather turned out right. Most sensitive and sincere when it comes to the sea. We talked about only our happy memories of Jacques Mayol.

Why did he choose this?
Wasn't there any alternative at the last stage of his glorious life?
He had told us that he had done everything he could do. He said that there would be nothing more for him to do. Did he choose to draw the curtain himself when he felt he was through? Or was this his Karma?
Wrong or right, I feel I could understand his instinctive way of living and dying.

We believe he has gone back to his Atlantis with his dear dolphins.
Merci, Homo Delphinus! We loved you. Adieu!                          

Ferry boat from Piombino
The Island of Elba
From the left:
Hitoshi Narita
Atsushi Takashima
Jyunji Takasago
Marina Donati
Jacques's house on the cliff
The sea Jacques loved
On the horizon, can you see the Island of Monte Cristo?
People who attended the funeral
Flowers from the Ambassador of France
Hitoshi and Atsushi wrote the names of Japanese friends.
Atsushi Takashima with the urn

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi
Proprietress of Ryokan Yoyokaku

  Mail to Harumi Okochi