by Vashti Ataya
Jackie’s evolution into becoming known as Snowdaughter began when her mother, Vashti, began her weight loss journey. Posting on CyberDiet.com as Sungal, Vashti slowly but steadily began to shed her excess weight.
To spur her efforts, Vashti’s whole family got into the inspiration act, sending cards, letters, notes of cheer, and even some cheerleading.
Jackie created a poster using bold markers on foam board and mailed it to Florida to help her mom stay on track. Vashti posted the contents of the poster one day on the forum, and many of the CyberDieters posted their appreciation and mentioned that they would like to somehow send their appreciation to Jackie in a more personal way. So, with Jackie’s permission, her address was posted on CyberDiet and people began to write to her. At first they referred to her as ‘Sundaughter’ since her mother was always known as ‘Sungal’. Ever being quick to take charge of her own name, she promptly informed her new friends that living in Alaska, and, sunshine being a somewhat scarce commodity, she would rather be called ‘Snowdaughter’.
Correspondence began to fly and she began receiving mail from people all over the world. She was stunned and overwhelmed and delighted. Having a house under construction, she had lots and lots of bare walls, so she put up a continental USA map on one wall and a map of the world on another. Searching high and low until she found just the right kind of map pins that she wanted, she placed uniquely individual pins in the map locations of the people who had begun corresponding with her.
Being diagnosed with Celiac Sprue in 1995, she began to suffer the after effects of all the allergic reactions she had had to gluten over that time, and it became very apparent that she had sustained enormous organ damage. The most acute damage was to her liver. From then on she was in and out of the hospitals a lot, undergoing a battery of tests and procedures that kept bringing into sharper focus just how ill she had become. Through it all she kept up her correspondence with her friends, and began dubbing them her “cyberangels”. She loved to brag to her “real life friends” that she had more internet friends than anyone, and she didn’t even own a computer! Her haven became her “office”. There she had her typewriter that her grandad and grandmother had sent her, and she had there the portraits of her mom and her grandmother . Banners adorned the walls proclaiming the truths she had come to live by: “Life only happens when you participate!” Her latest favorite was, “There is no cap on success. The jury’s out until you draw your last breath.”
Her life touched so many lives all over the world that it was remarkable. Many, many people had come to know her– even to love her — and had never seen her face.
Hence this webpage. Here there are photos of her grandmother, her mom, her dogs, her snow, her dogs, her office, her walls, her dogs, her maps, her joyous canoe trip she took a year after having been given a prognosis of six months or less at life.
Every human being is a remarkable creation, unique among all the world. Yep. Snowdaughter would agree with that whole heartedly.
“Breathe in…breathe out.”
“Life only happens when you participate!”
“Be alive to this minute. If you aren’t, you are dead already.”
“There is no cap to success. The jury’s out until your last breath.”
Thanks Virginia. You are a great teacher!