Russ Healy

Mike Lean

Russ and I go back 23 years, so we've been associated for almost half our lives. Our friendship has been very much on my mind these last few days, going over things we did together, experiences we shared, things we talked and wondered about - because Russ was my best mate. And I think you only have one of those in a lifetime. I first met Russ when I returned from many years overseas, and was settling in to a new job. And it was Russ's friendship and help that made that settling in very easy. Over the next twenty years we crossed quite a few dry gullies together, supporting each other through work problems, relationship problems, programming problems, computer problems, illnesses, parenting, you name it. We shared the same offbeat sense of humour, and were able to conduct conversations, which would leave bystanders bemused.

Many times, things were done without asking. Let me give you an example. At one stage, I was building a large chookshed, and because we shared the driving to and from work, Russ got out of the car at my place one Friday afternoon to have a look at the boxing for the concrete floor which was to be poured the next morning. After a bit of a look he went off, having made arrangements for me to pick him up on Monday. Saturday morning, in the dawn light, as I wait for the Sellars truck, the Toyota Crown drives up, and out steps Russ, trowel in hand. 'What are you doing here, I asked.' 'That job's too big for one person' he said 'Thought I better give you a hand, you'd never finish it before the concrete goes off'. And he was right, as I discovered. He worked with me all morning, and the job was done. And there you were, he'd thought about it, and turned up, unasked, to help. Russ was generous. With his time, and his experience. He noticed things, he heard what you were saying, and often did things for you without any prompting. I could go on with stories like that. How he set up opportunities for me to learn the ins and outs of television production, and how patient he was. And that was a special thing about him, too, that you could ask questions and never be made to feel ignorant for having to ask…and you could always be sure of an honest answer.

We used to talk about dying, sometimes. I remember Russ used to joke that he had a list of questions that he wanted answers for, and he was going to arrive "up there" with the list in his hand. Over the years we both added to that list, never dreaming that the time for getting the answers would come so quickly. But the time did come quickly. I didn't realise even last Thursday when I sat beside his bed, how close that time was - I guess we always thought there'd be more time.

Now, my mate has gone off on his last great adventure, I'm left with a lot of memories, a deep sense of loss, and a resolve to remember a generous and compassionate spirit. Take it easy, mate.

Mike Lean

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anniversary date 08-07-97
date of post 08-27-97

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW