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In Memoriam

Mistress Aja du Jardin, OL, OP

Sable, a base indented
and issuant from chief a
demi-sun Or.

Kare Mantegani died February 14, 2007 after a long fight with cancer.

Aja du Jardin (aka Aja da Varese, Hallgerd Egilsdottir) was a member of the Orders of the Laurel and the Pelican of the West Kingdom, as well as the Orders of the Western Lily, Leaf of Merit, and the Rose Leaf. She was a Baroness of the Court of the West, a holder of the Silver Nib and the Queen's Order of Maintenance. In addition to recognitions from the Crown, Aja was recognized by the Prince and Princess of the Mists with a Corolla Vitae, and by the Prince and Princess of Cynagua with membership in the Scutiferus Cynaguae, the Melan Pteron Cynagua, the Cynaguan Quill (Copper, Silver and Gold), and a Princess' Token.

Aja has been Kingdom Exchequer and Chancellor of the College of Scribes.

Aja used the name Aja da Varese for the last few years, but the change was never registered with the heralds.

"It breaks my heart to share this news: Mistress Aja da Varese, known to the modern world as Kare Mantegani, slipped away from us earlier this evening. Aja passed from this world after a more than two year battle with cancer, a fight that was marked by her indomitable strength of spirit and fierce determination. Right up to the last, Aja was supported by her wonderful husband, Richard of Havn, and her last days were full of a steady stream of many people who loved, respected and admired her.

"Aja joined the Society around AS 9, and spent years ­ decades - comfortably “flying under the radar” (as she would put it). She was a quiet mainstay of the Caldarium shire until more recent years, when she felt called to more active service on behalf of the Kingdom. She was immensely and diversely talented, and she shared her gifts with us all: she was Laureled for her exceptional scribal art, but was also recognized for her virtuoso needlecraft. She shared her more modern talents with this Kingdom through her programming efforts that modernized the College of Scribes (striking a mighty blow to the Dread Beast Backlog), and through her practical administration of the Kingdom Exchequer’s office ­ service that resulted in her membership in the Order of the Pelican. Her courage and conviction earned her the thanks and admiration of the Crown, who made her a Baroness of the Court of the West.

"I am hard pressed to think of anyone more loyal to her personal principles or more steadfast to her friends than was Aja. She was my teacher, my friend, and the sister of my heart, and like so many, I will miss her more than words can truly express." -- Eliška z Jihlavy

Some Reminisces:
These poems were written when people got word that Aja had, at most, days to live:

To Mistress "Courage"
Antonio Giordano da Sicilia

Perpetual Mona Lisa smile, artistry held in high esteem,
Moral fortitude, standing up to both King and Queen,
Courage guide, you stood on perilous ground without fear,
Your strength is fading as the darkness draws near.
I pray for you my friend as your soul takes flight,
As you pass from light, to dark, to glorious light,
May this last journey be painless and without strife,
As you fade from life, to death, to everlasting life.

In Memoriam (Aja da Varese)
Aldith Angharad St. George
12 February xli

The hour grows late, and I hear a voice in my interior self
A voice that will no longer be stilled,
That gains in strength as all other voices grow faint, then silent

I am called, and I must go.

Such times we have had, have we not?
We have been together in merriment and strife;
Such times that now seem as two expressions of the same face,
At once a friend and a foe that I sorrow so to leave,
but cannot bear to stay;

For I am called, and I must go.

The hour grows late, and my Account must be reckoned;
I charge you all to witness:
That I gave Fealty and Service
That I Spoke, and I was Silent
That I Did and I Let Be
That I Struck, and I Spared
That I Came,

--but I am called, and I must Go.

"I'm having a hard time coming up with any words to say. I didn't know Aja well, but like many in the last few years I got to know her some. She was strong, committed, and a brilliant woman. She had the strength of her convictions in ways most of us don't. I had some great discussions with her, both about SCA and non-SCA topics when I saw her and we had time to talk. I liked her a lot, and I had a lot of respect for her.

"I am sorry she's gone, she will be missed." -- Hirsch von Henford

"Aja was a good friend. We shared a love of conversation, wine and chocolate. She took it upon herself to make scrolls of Middle Eastern design for those with non-European persona and I will forever treasure the two she made for me. She will be sorely missed both for her unstinting service to the West and for her kind and giving nature." -- Katira al-Maghrebiyya

"I would like to add that Mistress Aja began her association with the SCA while a resident of the former Barony of the Isles, in the former principality of Caid. For many years she was a strong supporter of the Equestrian Arts in The West. She donated her time and talents to this activity, both in support and planning of activities, as well as in making several items, such as surcoats and banners, for equestrian Arts use and for fund raising to help acquire monies to help provide rental horses to SCA members who wished to ride and participate in Equestrian activities, and otherwise might not have been able to do so.

"In addition, Mistress Aja helped promote the arts and historical knowledge of them. In the mid 1970's she was invited to participate in a semester long class offered by the University of California, Berkeley. This course, taught by Dr. Ann Pra-Perochon, was a study of the History of The Bayeux Tapestry, and Mistress Aja was invited to give a presentation on her interpretation of the construction methods used in making the Bayeux Tapestry, based on her construction of a similar panel of embroidery." -- Henrik of Havn

"Aja da Varese slipped from this world earlier this evening. I only got to know her in the recent couple of years, but in that time I became very impressed with her warmth, wit, and strength. I will miss her greatly. I had great admiration for her willingness to see her commitments through to the very end, no matter how difficult, and to stick with her principles against all odds. We need more people like that in this world, and in our Society. She is gone, and we are the poorer for it." -- Teresa le Marchant

"I was first privileged to get to know Mistress Aja during my time as the exchequer for the Barony of Westermark, and also as a fellow Kingdom officer. She was quite patient with silly questions I came up with from time to time, and was always helpful.

"I had not seen much of her recently due to my grad-school-imposed sabbatical from the SCA, but I did manage to get to March Crown at Woodland, and we shared some deep thoughts (and a couple of stories) at her Pelican vigil. We met again at 12th Night last year, and talked some more about her life and her experiences with her illness.

"She was an exemplary peer, a wonderful colleague, and my friend, I felt a great sense of loss at the news of her passing. I will miss her very much." - George of Berwick

"I didn't know Aja very well, but she was a most valiant lady. To paraphrase what I said of her last year: AJA DA VARESE WAS A GOOD PERSON.

"Since meeting her I found her conduct, under circumstances so difficult that it cannot be imagined and the full extent of which will probably never be known, to have measured up to the highest standards and ideals of the SCA and of a Peer of the West; worthy of notice, exemplary in the fullest meaning of the word, and a credit to the Most Noble Order of the Laurel.

"I was honored to count her as my peer and grateful beyond measure that she consented to serve all of us as Chancellor of the College of Scribes.

"So say I, " -- Tatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova

"I had just heard this past weekend that there was a recurrence of the cancer, but it is just such a shock. Please let Richard know how much I respected Aja for her enormous talents and her grace. Though her passing is sad for us that are left behind, we can be thankful for the small time we had with her, the beauty she created, and the lessons she taught us." -- James Andrew MacAllister

"Aja came into my life when I really needed a close friend. She was a wonderful friend; always ready with an ear to listen or words to encourage. Her e-mails were full of news about friends and stories from events, and her words brought me comfort when I was unable to attend events.

"In one of her early e-mails, she mentioned that it would be fun to camp next to each other on the eric; unfortunately we never did. I will treasure the times we did get to spend at events, especially the one night that she and I shared my stash of “Fuzzy Navels”. After that night, I always made sure there were enough Fuzzy Navels for two.

"It surprised me when she took a Kingdom office, since she had said she was content to fly below the radar. We became closer after that, by sharing experiences of SCA service and trying times. She was a very diligent officer, and she gave a lot of thought to her decisions. She made some difficult choices and stood by them; I admired her for that. She once told me she didn’t have what it took to be a Pelican; she was wrong about that.

"She leaves us all a legacy of her art and service. She left me seven years of correspondence to remember her by, my Baronial scroll, and a debt that can not be repaid. Farewell dear friend – I’m glad you are in a better place, where pain and foo can’t reach you." -- Gwendolyn the Rat Keeper

"Many have written lovely words about the lady we knew as Aja. Yes she was most courageous - both in her fight for her life and in standing for her beliefs -- whether in defense of her own beliefs or on behalf of friends. She was the most stalwart of friends. Aja gave willingly of her talents and abilities for many many years before she was finally recognized by her peers. While many will laud her gifts to the College of Scribes, I think her best gift, to the organization, was her modernizing and untangling the Exchequer Office. It was a tangled web. She unraveled it and spun it into a well loomed machine with a fine mix of diplomacy and firmness.

"There are 2 things that come to mind when I think about Aja - how interesting/interested she was and her smile/sense of humor. Aja could talk on most any topic and was interested to hear whatever was being said. You were never bored around Aja; it was in her nature to always be seeking more while enjoying what she had/knew. She also had a great sense of humor. Nothing got her down for long. She saw the humor in life and helped others see it as well.

"Her strength in all things was her husband Richard. He was the "wind beneath her wings".

"Like many, I was fortunate that I have an Aja scroll. She did my Court Barony, 15 years after it was given. She went so far as to seek out the long absent Queen to sign my scroll, to complete the circle. Aja also did my husbands LoM/AoA so "they would look good on the wall together".

"I wish her peace. I challenge all who read this to do a "random act of kindness" in honor of Aja - who did many such acts." -- Sabrina de la Bere

June Crown Tournament (June 23-25, 2000, AS XXXV)
Debardchery (July 14, 2001, AS XXXVI)
Collegium Occidentalis (April 27, 2002, AS XXXVI)
Beltane Coronation (April 29-May 1, 2005, AS XXXIX)
Twelfth Night Coronation (January 7, 2006, AS XL)

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The West Kingdom History Website was created by and is maintained by Hirsch von Henford (mka Ken Mayer).