Today the world lost another Aussie legend. Bryce Courtenay.
I was lucky enough to have crossed paths with this lovely man when I worked at George Patterson Bates right after arriving on Australian shores a little over 20 years ago.
He started as an adman, but he was really a writer. A great writer. A prolific writer. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
What has struck me most today since I heard the news of his passing has been the way one person can well and truly touch the life of another.
Bryce was a joyful man. With a beautiful smile, a memorizing voice, a constant energy and a delightful laugh.
He was never one to ignore others despite the celebrity he carried.
He remembered you after he met you. But not just you, he remembered the important things about you.
For me this included the fact that I was on my own in Australia and that I became pregnant. He watched me grow and asked after my health whenever he saw me.
After that it was the fact that I had a son. He always inquired after him and I marveled at this. The fact that he would, could and did remember.
When I ran my first biathlon (well, as it turns out, my only biathlon so far) and got sick afterwards as a result of ingesting water from Darling Harbour, he was sincerely angry … suggesting that I sue the people that were responsible for holding the event because they should have known the water wasn’t healthy. He reacted the way I would have expected my father to react had he still been around.
And he always noticed people’s shoes. He was a stickler for clean and polished shoes. Growing up in South Africa he told me it was very important to take care of your shoes as it told people who you were. It was a matter of pride.
As the day progressed and the news spread I started to see notes on social media commenting on Bryce. How much he’ll be missed and what people remember about him. And I thought to myself, how wonderful to have made such an impression on so many in the course of your life.
This is a lesson to us all. A reminder that it doesn’t matter who you are – the way we interact with each other every day is important.
We affect each other.
In big ways and in small.
Whether it’s a cashier at the local shop or the new boss from regional head office, we are all people first. We all have the power to fill others with joy or ruin their day.
Today I thank Bryce for providing my life with a sprinkling of light and joy many years ago in a way that I doubt he ever knew. But also for doing the same for so many others.
And for the reminder that I have the power to do it too.