What my brother taught me

9 years ago, Posted in Point of View

I wanted to share a letter that I recently received from a good friend who moved back to Australia a number of years ago. I thought I would share it for two reasons. 1) It is very important to me, and 2)  there is a good lesson in it about what is really important in life.

A quick background before this letter….On March 16, 2002, my brother (one of my best friends) died in a tragic accident.

G’day Jamie,

What a difference 365 days makes.

This same time last year I was sitting here in the same office on the same computer, listening to the same music (Lovers & Other Strangers – it’s a long story…), writing to my same friend.

Through the thread of the similarity though there is difference. Changes that can only come with time, experience and life:

  • My kids are a year older. Madelyn is walking & talking. Mathew has started school and growing up so fast and Jonah seems to have overnight grown into a warm, loving soul.
  • The business is still growing, albeit at a pace slower than hoped but we will keep pushing forward.
  • I finally shot a 79! Yes, I did play all 18 holes!
  • I got to experience the JB Golf Classic! The whole day epitomised your spirit, your generosity, your sense of fun, your love for friends and family. I felt so reconnected to the country and my closest friends. Would love to make it a yearly pilgrimage.
  • I lost weight, gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, lost….well you get the idea. Oh yeah, I’m sure the hair contains a bit more grey too.
  • Hard to imagine but Robyn is more beautiful today than when I first met her. All I can say is thank goodness for distance so you can’t hit on her anymore!

One of the biggest differences though is that my heart feels it has healed. March 16th in past years has brought me some conflicting and painful emotions. Not this year. I am sitting here content, at peace with a broad smile on my face as I think of you.

Through you I am thankful for:

  • The experiences I have had. The trips, the parties, the golf games, the crazy moments, the quiet moments, the stupid conversations, the intense discussions, the hot tub, the cold tub, the challenges, the songs, the dance, the tears, the laughter, the failures, the successes. We shared many.
  • A wonderful supportive group of people I feel so honoured and proud to call my friends.
  • The inspiration to not let a day go by without at some point Living it, Loving it or Laughing at it.
  • The appreciation of life, the importance of today and the need to share and express your love to those you care about.

Ultimately, I am simply thankful to be able to call you my friend.

So in typical tradition, tonight I will raise a stiff rum, look to the stars and (possibly with a slight tear) cheers a person too large for simple life.


The that Jimbo talks about in the letter is a golf tournament held at the end of April each year. Organized by friends (special thanks Al, Brad, Steve, Kevin)  about 200  friends come together to celebrate friendship and a life lived well. It continues to be one of the best parties of the year.

There are two reasons that the letter and the golf tournament are important.

1) They tell a story about who Jamie was, but more importantly

2) They tell a story about our friends.

I am lucky because I have learned what my brother always knew. True success doesn’t come from wealth or social status or what others think.  It comes from realizing your potential and the impact that you have on others.  That is something that never dies.

P.S. If you’re ever in Brisbane, Australia, drop into Jimbo’s restaurant Focus by James.


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  1. Andrea Shillington