Remembering Jill Mackin

Jill Mackin
(Photo from her Facebook page)

Even if you didn’t know Jill Mackin, you knew her cooking if you ever had lunch at The Floyd Country Store.

She was the heart and soul of the store’s menu. As kitchen manager, she personally cooked many of the selections — many based on her recipes.

Jill knew customer’s preferences and took the extra time to create selections she felt would serve the store’s loyal eaters.  She knew I hated chili with beans so a separate batch without the dreaded stuff, labeled “Doug’s chili”  would sit in the fridge during the winter months, waiting for my regular visits to consume bowl after bowl.

She greeted all country store visitors with a smile, knew regulars by name and offered samples to newcomers.  Jill Mackin was a major part of the heart and soul of the Country Store.

Jill and her daughter, Tamara Rose, came to Floyd from Wisconsin.  They were a close knit mother and daughter. Jill managed the kitchen at the Country Store.  Tamara served diners at restaurants, working her way through college.  Mother talked proudly of daughter and her grandson.

At 59, Jill found the pace of working most of the day on her feet in a hot kitchen hard on her health.  Her doctor told her to slow down, but that wasn’t Jill Mackin’s style.  Recently, at the country store, we talked about the health problems that we face late in life.

“I don’t like being told I can’t do something,” she said.  “It’s not my way.”

Tuesday afternoon, after a long day covering the Floyd County Board of Supervisors, I stopped by the Floyd Press to advise editor Wanda Combs of the stories I would be writing for this week’s paper.  Tamara was there, taking a photo of her mother out of a frame.

Oh God, I thought. Not Jill.

Yes, Jill.  On Saturday, after a day of cooking for visitors, regulars and friends at the Country Store, she said she wasn’t feeling well and went home  an hour early. On Sunday, Jill Mackin suffered a stroke and died.

Shock swept over me.  A little over a month ago, I lost my mother, so I knew how Tamara must feel.  But the man who writes thousands of words a week for print and Internet publication couldn’t find the words.  I left the Press offices stunned and sat on my motorcycle shaking and gasping for breath.

I pounded the handlebars and wiped away tears.  Not Jill, I kept saying to myself.  Finally, I fired up the Harley and headed home.  That evening, I sat alone in my study, remembering a good friend.  It would be after midnight before I could put aside my thoughts and write about the day’s events for this week’s paper.

No one knows for sure the spiritual forces that determine when someone we know and love leaves us.  We each have our beliefs, be they based on religion, some other form of spirituality or the cold facts of science.

Each offers a way of dealing with grief, but none can take away the pain.

I’ve tried to write about Jill for this web site but the words couldn’t come.  I couldn’t write about anything else either.

A celebration of Jill Mackin’s life is scheduled at the Floyd County Store on Sunday, October 21 from 6 to 8 p.m.  The store will prepare some of her favorite recipes as part of that celebration.

Maybe by then, I can find the right words to properly say goodbye to a friend.

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11 thoughts on “Remembering Jill Mackin”

  1. Your words describe Jill perfectly. Brought tears to my eyes. I knew Jill in Wisconsin. We worked together at a Restaurant in Port Washington Wisconsin. She worked in the kitchen I was a bartender. The placed closed and I went to work for her ex husband at his Restaurant. Later in years Jill came to work there also. We were working together again. It was then I was able to get to know what a beautiful person she was. I don’t remember her ever saying a bad word about anyone. A very hard working lady. She made you smile even if you were down. Her joy in life was her daughter Tamara Rose and Grandson Fox. I was thrilled for her when she was able to join them in Floyd. She would write how she loved it there. Yes, we all have lost an angel on earth…….but gained one in heaven to watch over us.

  2. I am Jill’s sister, Christine, .. and have just read your article about Jill and I am so thankful for the words you have written .. they fit so well .. bringing the tears to my eyes…… her spirit is still all around … and I can see it has touched a multitude of people .. She will always be with me .. and I will remember her bubbly personality of being happy all the time .. and forever the optimist .. thanks again . Chris Finney .

  3. Jill and I used to have a beer at the Pine Tavern after work sometimes. She was a delightful and fun person to be with. I will miss her and her cooking and my heart goes out to Jackie, Woody and the staff at the CS! Thanks for putting words to my heart, Doug.

  4. Doug you said ir perfectly. I worked with Jill for 5 years at the Country Store and it breaks my heart knowing a wonderful sweet heart of a lady had passed. My little girl was born the 4th of October and i was so excited to introduce her to Jill. I received a package from her on the 9th with “Miss you Sweetie” on the back…i lost it for the first time only because i must not stress with little one around. She was the sweetest lady in the world and one of the better cooks in floyd. She will be missed forever. Thanks Doug for the kind words.

  5. Thanks for your lovely post about Jill. I didn’t know her well, I was one of the many customers she knew by name and preferences. Her cooking was wonderful. I was sadly shocked by her too early passing. Her smiles and sunny attitude are a fine legacy. She will be missed.

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