(Photo by Lady_MickeyD - a truly amazing picture)
On August 9th, we were all saddened to hear about the passing of Janet McDannald, aka Lady_MickeyD, from her recent battle with cancer. Janet was a dear friend to our staffers FarAwayEyes, Bardicvoice, and Tigershire. Alice and Nightsky also had a chance to meet her a few times. She was an amazing person with a deep passion for the "Supernatural" fandom. A few of us have chosen to share some words about our experiences with Janet and how she touched our lives.
I met Janet McDannald at the Vancouver Convention in 2013 on the Russ Bus location tour. We started exchanging stories about who we were in fandom and what the show meant and then she did the math and realized that I was Far Away Eyes from the WFB. She realized I had written about Jensen Ackles and his acting in “Yellow Fever.” She was ecstatic to have met me---a no body who really had no credit and/or clout to my name. I had simply chosen to write about my show and about a particular performance that inspired me. I'm glad that it inspired Janet.
From that chance encounter, Janet and I became close friends. We kept in touch through Twitter and email. We saw each other at other conventions---and she even went as far as visiting my home state of Minnesota when we got our first convention in 2015. We traveled with one another to Vancouver that year and I would give nearly anything to go back to that trip to do it all over again---but bigger and even better. I would most certainly go to that little DQ with her again---just so she could laugh at me for eating my banana split blizzard too fast and becoming cold. She fondly said, “You're such a dork.” I'll always remember that.
We went on location hunts, we shared each other's company and story. Her strength to overcome such a harrowing experience and to stand tall after it showed me that it was possible to get through nearly everything and that fighting back is the only option we have. She told me how hard it was to do that and just how the show had really given her the emotional side of herself back---something that makes us stronger, not weaker. She proved that we can do anything we put our mind to---and if we find that solace, inspiration, or drive through a television show that it is more than okay to do so.
Janet encouraged me to do so much. I've spent a number of years drifting, not quite sure where I want to go in life or do with it. I know now and it's in part because of her support and encouragement. Sometimes crazy ideas or concepts would come to mind---from something small about a particular episode interpretation to larger concerns about career or life path. She would always tell me to go for it---to try and to see it through to the end.
When DePaul University decided to have a Celebration of Supernatural, I hesitated in submitting an abstract---a fancy academic term for proposal---to participate. I hemmed and hawed and waffled on writing the 250 odd words and the CV---another fancy academic term for resume---to Dr. Paul Booth. She scoffed and told me to just do it. After all, worst thing that could happen is he'd say no and I'd be no worse off than I was now. So I did it. I painstakingly crafted my abstract and had Janet look it over before I submitted it. Once the window closed and Dr. Booth was sending out his notifications, I expected a rejection letter in my in-box. Instead, I was accepted and had to sit down and write my 5 minute presentation. I had doubted I'd get in---Janet never did.
She even went with me on the trip, even though she had a hearty dislike for the city of Chicago. She wanted to be there with me when I presented, to be that one sure friendly face in the room as I proposed my take on Supernatural and family. It went exceedingly well---better than I ever hoped. For a moment, I felt like I was back in my heyday of college. I was in a setting that felt safe, free, and intellectually stimulating. I was thrilled to have the experience---and I felt validated in my field of study. So much so, I did the DePaul event the following year alone---for Star Trek.
She also made certain that I got to spend a few moments with the keynote speaker of that event: Robbie Thompson. He was in a lobby area and she made certain we would get a brief moment to chat one-on-one. Mostly, she wanted to make sure that Robbie got to see the Devil's Trap I had embroidered. Janet championed so much of my efforts. Without her, I may not have had the courage to show it to him or to say thank you to him for all his inspiration. Janet knew that I always loved his episodes best.
That doesn't change the fact it would have never happened without her initial encouragement. Anytime I'd raise a “but I don't think---” or “I'm not good enough for---” or “there's no way they'll pick me---” Janet would shut that down and tell me to just do it or go for it. And I'm a better person for it. That experience proved I could do anything and go anywhere and to be much more confident than I ever hoped to be before I met her.
She also pushed me to meet up with Mitch for the SPN Fan Movie and spotlight my embroidery. She really loved my work on those projects---especially the #AlwaysKeepFighting banner. Janet was the very first person to see it completed when I took it along with me to the DePaul event. She championed that cause so much and I knew how much it meant to her. It's one reason I sent that very banner to her when she was diagnosed. I knew she needed it more than I did.
I know for a fact that I would not have my part time job at the local library if not for Janet. She may not have talked me through that application process---by then she was already fighting cancer and struggling with her own private battle that I tried (and didn't do as well at) to encourage her through. It was her courage and the way she taught me to have courage that allowed me to dive in feet first and apply for that job, no matter the outcome. Without Janet, I may have remained stuck in my rut.
Because of Janet, I know I'm published. My two appearances at DePaul are now enshrined in the 5 year retrospective that Dr. Booth put out this spring: Timelords and Tribbles, Winchesters and Muggles. I am actually published in a book with Robbie Thompson. Let me say that one more time. I am published in a book with Robbie Thompson. That would have never ever happened without Janet. Never. She pushed me when I wanted to hide or felt too inadequate or didn't want to face the possibility of failure.
For Janet, there was no such thing as failure. Not when there was one shred of hope to be had---not when we had one more try left to use. In that way, Janet reminds me of the very best of the Supernatural Family. She was strong, tenacious, and resourceful. She knew how to welcome all of us into the Family, to stand up for and with our fellow sisters and brothers, and how to be the best this Family has to offer. She embodied so much of what made this show so beautiful.
Janet truly lived the credo #AlwaysKeepFighting. She believed in its message---and while cancer won the war this time, she will live on. I think about Sam and Dean's conversation in the episode “Legacies” this past season. Dean is bothered that they'll be forgotten and Sam simply reminds him that it doesn't matter. He says, “Well, I mean... guys like us, we're not exactly the type of people they write about in history books, you know? But the people we saved, they're our legacy. And they'll remember us and then I guess... we'll eventually fade away, too. That's fine, because we left the world better than we found it, you know.”
I know for a fact Janet left the world a better place than she found it. I just hope I continue to be that living proof.
In 2015, Janet McDannald and her daughter Lindsay welcomed me into their home as a guest during the Supernatural convention in Las Vegas, NV. It was the first time J.D. Morgan appeared at a Supernatural convention, and I couldn't resist the temptation to be in the audience, although I'd hesitated at the expense of a Vegas hotel room. Janet told me her house was open to me, and that made my decision for me.
Janet and I had been connected already for years electronically through the #SPNFamily, and we'd met in person at conventions in Vancouver, but this was a delightful next step. If you watch the SPNFan Movie, you will see Janet and her house, because it is a tribute to all things Supernatural. If you're a Supernatural fan on Twitter or anywhere else online, you've seen Janet's many spectacular convention photos, watermarked by her Twitter handle, @Lady_MickeyD. If you're at all uncertain of who she was, watch the lovely tribute video by @DR_SPN_PHD.
Janet humbles me. Janet survived and escaped with her daughter from an abusive relationship, and the strength she found within herself and Lindsay to do that informed the rest of her life. She was determined not just to survive, but to thrive, and they did. She's the only one of my several gun-owning friends who really needed the weapons she bought and learned to use to defend herself and her daughter against a very real threat from their past.
In Supernatural, she found both inspiration for and validation of her fight to preserve her own family. More than anyone else I know, she was Dean Winchester, embodied in real life; she loved her daughter and learned to fight for herself to protect the person most important to her.
It's no wonder to me that she turned her home into a Supernatural shrine, nor that she found a white 1967 Chevrolet Impala four-door sedan (teasingly nicknamed “Ghost” for a while, including during its cross-country journey to Vegas through the real Stull Cemetery in Lawrence, KS!) and undertook its not-inexpensive restoration into a duplicate of Dean's Baby. I visited the car during its transformation, and realized quickly I was seeing part of Janet herself on display. Supernatural meant a lot to her, precisely because it spoke to her own personal struggle against the all-too-human demons of an abusive spouse and her own self-doubt.
Late last year, just as the 2016 holiday season approached, Janet was diagnosed with cancer. She'd been experiencing mouth pain, and it turned out to be a large, malignant tumor in her tongue. She fought cancer with the same spirit and courage she'd brought to her earlier fights for survival, but this time, cancer won. I wasn't there physically to support Janet and Lindsay. I wish I could say otherwise, but I wasn't there. I knew only what very little Janet shared about her fight on social media. I saw photos from her few appearances at this year's VegasCon. And then, nothing … until I learned from Lindsay on August 9 that Janet had died.
How I suddenly wish Supernatural were real; that death could be overridden by writers with a plot twist. But it's not. The world is as it is, imperfect and full of incomplete stories never to be properly finished.
My solace is simply this: none of our stories truly end until all the people we touched also cease to be. As long as I live, as long as Linds lives, as long as any and all of us who met Janet or knew her through her passionate photography or fannishness live, Janet survives. She lives on in all of us, because she touched us, she inspired us, and we carry her on with us. We always will.
So thank you, Janet. Thank you for your passion, your love, your laughter, your joy, your indomitable will. Thank you for making me care. Thank you for making me better. Thank you for being my friend.
Thank you for being you.
I met Janet during two of my trips of Vancouver and once at the Celebration of Supernatural at DePaul University. The first time I met her was during VanCon 2014. She was the close friend of my dear friends, Tigershire and Bardicvoice. The first time I met her, I was in love with the pure joy she felt over “Supernatural” and the conventions. At the time my love of the show was starting to wane a bit so it was refreshing to see someone so joyful and in love with “Supernatural.” I remember each trip her proudly showing off photo ops and other items she got at the convention, beaming over them like they were worth a million dollars. I was especially taken with how she was able to do these adventures with her daughter Lindsay, who was also a big fan. I took my daughter to her first convention when she was 12 and we had a great time I will never forget. We’ve gone to one or two since then, but she’s 19 now and into her own thing. It’s one thing to have a friend to take but your own child, it’s just a very special experience.
On that trip to Vancouver Janet and Lindsay were part of our small location tour group thanks to the awesome tour guide skills of Bardicvoice with Tigershire manning the van. Location tours are pretty exciting and Vancouver is such a beautiful place. It’s the farthest thing from Ohio I’ve ever seen. We were all pretty stoked at visiting places where they filmed “In The Beginning,” “Slash Fiction,” “Mystery Spot,” “Unforgiven,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “Swap Meat,” “Bloody Mary,” and several others. We all had lunch in the same restaurant where “Unforgiven” was filmed, the one where Dean had to retreat to the “poop deck” (I still chuckle over that). It was a great chance to get to know everyone in the group and learn how “Supernatural” had changed their lives.
There's a tradition among the group at VanCon and that's Tigershire cooking her infamous made from scratch Butter Chicken. It's a pretty exclusive invitee list! Janet and Lindsay were there and that's when I got to hear Janet’s personal story of struggle and triumph. “Supernatural” literally saved her life. It helped her through a huge domestic trauma and she made it her passion in life. It’s really touching to hear stories like that. I’ve heard quite a few at conventions and online, but Janet was all about taking that joy and spreading it around to everyone. She wanted to help others and was always kind and encouraging, no matter what the battle, and no matter what kind of "fan" you were. To her, we were all "Supernatural" fans.
The last time I saw Janet was August 2016 during VanCon. By that visit, I was very disillusioned with the show and the expense of the conventions. I knew my dear friends were in town though and my husband and I were looking for a getaway, so we decided to go to Vancouver for a week. He had never been and I knew I had a trusty tour guide and driver on hand! It’s funny, myself, Bardicvoice, and Tigershire all decided during this trip to Vancouver to skip the con and just do touring. It was a spectacular week. Janet and Lindsay stayed with Bardicvoice and Tigershire and went to the con anyway. I didn’t know how or why they could still love the experience (or the expense) after being to so many cons but when they came back in the evening they were running on a very powerful con high. Janet again was showing us her SPN merchandise like it was gold and gushing about everything that happened. It was so fun to see. Con veterans, still running high like they were con virgins. We had a nice dinner with them that evening talking about the show, the actors, the fandom, and all things "Supernatural." That was the last time i saw her.
I read about her cancer and her fighting spirit a few months later online. I was so heartbroken for her but I didn’t reach out. I’m not sure why other than I know that cancer is a pretty intense personal battle and I just didn’t know what to say. I’m sorry I missed that chance now. But I have this feeling she went out fighting and as FarAwayEyes said, she left the world a better place than when she found it. I just hope wherever she is now, it involves driving her Baby wearing an “Always Keep Fighting” shirt while listening to Carry On Wayward Son. Yeah, I can’t imagine a more beautiful heaven for her.
Janet was an amazing photographer and has a vast collection out there from numerous Supernatural conventions. Here's some of her work on Flickr:
Here's some of her favs on Instagram:
BTW, this is a favorite:
Here's a few photos, courtesy of Bardicvoice. This is when she, Tigershire, FarAwayEyes, Janet and Lindsay all went location touring during VanCon 2015 (drat, I missed that one!). I can attest, Britannia Beach is one of the most beautiful places on earth. "Wendigo," "Wishful Thinking," and "The Chitters" were all filmed there.
Finally, here is a Gofundme campaign sponsored by Jane Carr Hightower. She is getting donations for Lindsay, who cared for Janet while she was sick. The expenses were immense and this will help her in the next stage of her life without her mother.
We all at the Winchester Family Business offer our deepest condolences to Lindsay and we can say with pride that we are all better people for knowing her mother, both online and off. God Bless You Janet.