Thursday, February 21, 2013

Skydive love of life: Lost friends and a prayer

This is not meant to be melodramatic or histrionic. I've held back for two weeks and wish to do this with the greatest respect.

I know I could do this better with photo quality but this is a stream of consciousness about lost friends, new and old. I met Jeff about 10am on Feb 8, and lost him about 4.30pm. In that six hours the guy was larger than life, passionate and sharing a day with his son and other friends (new and old) who loved doing the same thing as him. He became a better friend in six hours than many others I've met over five years.


I was at his funeral today and one quote hit me the most:

"A real man has love in his heart."

I could see that with Jeff, but then I see that with many people I see in skydiving. More than anywhere else. He loved to jump, and the last words we had were when he was telling everyone to get their gear on and get in the plane. Then the handshake before exit. Here's Jeff on an earlier jump (courtesy "Adelaide Now").

And this reminds me of another friend I lost, over ten years ago. This photo of Robbie Hollis has been on my fridge since about 2001 when I took it at a boogie.
Bottom left clockwise - Robbie Hollis, Matt Hill, Steve Cash, Damien Winstanley, Mark Gazley. We were students and novices together and he died at Nagambie in (I think) 2003. Earlier days below (around 2002) where we did a demo jump into the South Parklands for the Skydive Ball. 
Robbie top left, me bottom right. Good times. A whole bunch of other great faces. Also on my fridge for the last 12 years.

I've only just got back into the sport so this is a rocky return. But when I'm at a DZ I know that everyone there loves the same thing, and in a way it's an unbridled freedom, a passionate love of life.

So with both Jeff and Robbie I know they both had love in their heart. A love of the sport, but a love of many other things, and people. They were real men. And I hope, always (rough as I am), to be able to say the same for myself. That's my prayer.


  1. Beautifully expressed Cullen. Some activities come with known risks but the sheer joy and exuberance of them, makes the risks worthwhile. I love that quote.