The importance of impact

Structure and commitment get us through a tough time. Memories, recollections and stories build a picture of a giant of a man and give a perspective of the importance of our impact.

And the Oscar goes to…..

When we received the final list of nominees we felt quite satisfied with ourselves. We had already watched over half and there was plenty of time to get through the others as part of our Oscar challenge. Plenty of time, that is, without taking into consideration the long days, tired minds and lack of motivation to engage with some of what appeared to be quite heavy topics. So we found ourselves on the Thursday before the ceremony with four films to get through.

Not too bad seeing that there were four evenings at our disposal. Given the time difference between South Africa and Los Angeles it allowed us to watch the last film before the announcements were made on the other side of the world.

Sometimes deadlines and commitments are useful things to have even if they are only for ourselves. They help give structure and direction even when the world around us seems to fall about with concern, and then fall apart at a loss.


A testing time

We faced eight young people in an echoing auditorium, bumped out of our usual venue by the ribbons and hoops of rhythmic gymnastics. Most arrived late. An erratic, unreliable transport system and an early Saturday morning had stretched the time to get to the venue. When most had arrived we started.

Energy levels were buzzing, as the anticipation of coach practice with real learners pushed bodies forward eager to test their skills. We had to hold them back and calm them down by drawing their focus to the subjects of action, commitments and moving forward, crucial steps in a successful coaching conversation. They moved into pairs to discuss the next exercise and the timer was set.

Matthew disappeared behind an open door and then reappeared, his eyes misty.

He’s gone,” he said. “My Dad has gone.

David, his dear father, in a hospital in France, the country he retired to, had not made it. After all the wishes, the prayers and the dreams, his body just could not heal after the severe lung damage caused by the incorrect medicine prescribed for his flu.

Disbelief and shock turned any ability to think clearly into mush. Questions had to wait for later as the clock ticked on. Matthew removed himself to a quiet corner outside to phone family members and message close friends. Chantal held the baton and kept the pace going with the trainees.


David was always stretching his somewhat large brain muscles, whether solving a problem, doing something creative or reading a book and absorbing new knowledge.


Tristan, David and Emmett. Three generations of Green Men - Stoic, principled and giving. Qualities taught and handed down from one man to the next.

Strength and inspiration

We did tell them, much later. They used the strength they saw in Matthew as inspiration to be strong for their coaching practice.

“What you did for us, Matthew, is phenomenal. For you to hold it together and support us, made us believe that we could do it too.”

All nervousness was swept aside and fabulous coaching sessions were had by all. The thrill of the successful interventions, of feeling useful and worthwhile, of doing good, balanced the sadness hovering over Matthew and Chantal.

As the session came to a close Chantal reminded the group, “Make sure you go and tell those that you love, that you love them.”


“You are who you are by your own endeavours. You must be proud of yourself and go forward depending only on yourself, you are here by your own efforts, no one else's.”
—David Green


“You are who you are by your own endeavours. You must be proud of yourself and go forward depending only on yourself, you are here by your own efforts, no one else's.”
—David Green

Memories and touch points

As all will know who have been through it, the thing with a loss such as this is that it doesn’t feel real, it doesn’t sink in while there is so much work to be done around it. The haze and fuzziness that descends makes it difficult to do anything other than put one foot in front of the other and do what is most urgent: tell those that need to know, announce the loss to those that will want to know.

There was Six Nations rugby to watch and a film to get through. Both offered a respite from the overthinking and waves of grief that knocked and shuddered our bodies.

Over the next few days Matthew spent a great deal of his time messaging and speaking to Emmett, his brother in George, and his adult son, Tristan, stuck at his home in a moonboot with a fractured ankle. They shared memories about David, cried together, commiserated with each other and did things in memory of their dad and grandad.

Matthew sifted through photos digging up memories, weeping at the finality of it all.

“I’ll never see grandad sitting like that again,” said Tristan in a message along with a photo of David hunched over his Ipad, as he was, perpetually.

The messages of condolence flooded in. Other people’s memories of this man and his impact on them. A kind soul, a gentle person and a clever man. All were touch points in this place we call life.

“He was my Google before there was Google,” sighed Emmett in a call, “He was a fount of information. He just knew so much.”

Matthew had a perspective of his father coloured by his specific memories and relationship with him. The recollections shared by so many others added new layers, new perspectives and grew the picture of his father into a giant of a man that had touched so many people so positively.


David and Edie…


…still close after all these years.

Everyone has an impact

David had a difficult upbringing in England. He lost his mother when he was only 16 and joined the airforce as a way to deal with the pain. He was a very intelligent man but, like so many of his generation, he dealt with his emotions by tucking them away.

He showed his love by fixing and advising, making and designing. He didn’t always understand Matthew but he constantly loved him. His greatest joy was to see Matthew happy in these last few years that they reconnected.

Everyone has an impact and David had a significant one on his sons, and grandson. He will be remembered dearly by many, many more. We are left with this holographic imprint of his influence on this world and his effect on the people he connected with. It is certain that David had little inkling of his impact. Each small gesture, every kind offer, all his care and concern touched others and he made the world a better place.

We are reminded that we rarely know when the last time will be when we say goodbye to someone. More so, however, few of us think about the time that we will die and the responsibility we have to the world before that comes. When we do, what essence will we leave behind? How will we be remembered? It is not for us to rescue or be revered. It is to go softly into our days with gratitude for what we have and with a light that we can share. Like David.

Until next time.

Yours in feeling,
Matthew & Chantal


“And as we wind on down the road Our shadows taller than our soul There walks a lady we all know Who shines white light and wants to show How everything still turns to gold And if you listen very hard The tune will come to you at last When all are one, and one is all, To be a rock and not to roll.”*

Everyone has an impact


David Gordon Green
2 December 1942 — 9 March 2024

David was an intellectual giant, balanced with a kindness and care that I was blessed to experience and emulate. His gentleness and humour will be missed by many. May your journey be light filled and delightfully surprising. Death is not the end. On occasion you used to wryly remind me “Illegitimi non carborundum”. Wherever you are now, may the only bastards you meet have wings and shower you with love. Godspeed dad, I love you.

*Lyrics from ”Stairway to Heaven" by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant

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