Jim Hayes taught journalism at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and worked for many years as a part-time writing coach at the Los Angeles Times. Those two pursuits earned him a solid base of admirers who are rallying around him now that Hayes, 88 and with cancer, is in hospice care. Maria La Ganga has a story in the LA Times today from Hayes' hometown of Los Osos, on the central coast of California.
He led an active electronic life, so the cyber silence was ominous. No emails. No posts to any of the thousand-plus friends on Facebook. When word finally surfaced, it wasn't from him.
"If you have noticed Jim's absence from Facebook, there is a reason. He has been doing poorly for a week or so ... and yesterday they detected a mass in his brain. Having elected to have no extraordinary medical measures, he is at home in Los Osos and we are waiting for hospice to come."
The Jan. 12 posting by Dayle Hayes about her 88-year-old father, Jim, shows once more how the Internet has changed the American way of death. Last summer, NPR journalist Scott Simon live-tweeted his mother's decline and eventual demise, captivating his million-plus followers. Online death announcements and memorial sites have become routine.
The announcement about Hayes spurred what amounts to an ongoing, real-time, interactive wake for a gregarious man in his final months. It has music, videos and testimonials that are remarkable, not just for what they say, but for how they say it.
Here is Hayes' Facebook page.