The real irony of the thing is that if Samuel Reese Gibb, born on Anzac Day in 1983 were still alive, he’d be having the time of his life covering the earthquake that killed him. It being St Patrick’s Day, I have no doubt he’d be polishing a touch of green off somewhere by now, then heading home to his beautiful wife of two years, Cindy, to share tales of his day.
It might sound dreadful, but journalists live for seminal events. I was heading overseas when Lady Diana died, having naughtily taken time off during radio survey. All I wanted to do at the airport was turn around and head back to the office (and to hug my two little princes) but we were off to Chicago and New Orleans and the plane wasn’t turning around for me.
Sam’s simple wooden coffin was topped by a plaque with the news microphone symbol, and his name spelt out in the wooden letters of childhood. It took me straight back to that card “Mummy” on the coffin the other two little princes followed down the Mall with the eyes of the world on them.
His service was dignified, straightforward, respectful, loving. His father was right when he described it as a “Big Tissue Day”.
His uncles spoke, stories of easy childhood and good times. Until today I didn’t realise we shared the same mountain (Aoraki) and had shot (at) the same families of rabbits in my favourite place on earth outside of Christchurch, the MacKenzie Country.
When his partner in TV crime Jess spoke, my heart broke. There’s such playfulness when you work in broadcasting. No matter how good the work I’ve done anywhere else, the fun you have, the wit and the humour in any of the media arts remains the same. You become a family. You work and play and bond. Jess did you proud, Sam. Right down to her black and yellow fingernails, the colour of your favourite soccer team, the Phoenix.
The thing that got me today is in listening to Sam’s family speak of him, he is so much like my boys. Same wit, same charm, same jokes, same interests and ideals. So lucky are we to have each other. So easily it could have been one of them.
Wendy Kington who officiated spoke of tears as memories in motion. Lots of memories moved for everyone at the Harewood Crematorium today.
She read a wonderful piece called “Live a Life that Matters.” I think (but am not sure) that it’s by Michael Josephson. I wish I’d written it. I hope I live up to it. Samuel Reese Gibb did. I will miss him so very, very much.
Live a Life That Matters – M Josephson
Ready or not,
someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises,
no minutes, hours, or days.
All the things you collected,
whether treasured or forgotten,
will pass to someone else.
fame and temporal power
will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned
or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations,
and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans,
and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses
that once seemd so important
will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from,
or on what side of the tracks you lived,
at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you had bought,
but what you had built;
not what you had gotten,
but what you had given.
What will matter is not your success,
but your significance.
What will matter is not what you had learned,
but what you had taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity,
courage or sacrifice that enriched,
empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence,
but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories,
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered,
and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident,
nor is it a matter of circumstance.
Living a life that matters happens only by choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.