I have a trade which involved canvas work and I repaired Chris's day-pack a few times. When he thought it was no longer strong enough for guiding he gave it to me. To this day I still use it on day outings, and it's a lovely concept to carry in more ways than one! On the back in faded marker pen it says "Chris Jillett Rig Pig.
When my son Dougal was 5 yrs. Chris had to shift a bunch of firewood from Hawea to Wanaka. I had a truck so off the three of us went to do a few loads. This was the time I so treasure to recall... I'll never forget it: Chris and Dougal chatted and worked together non-stop like a couple of little old men. For myself on the edge of such a special exchange was a privilege, and I became aware Chris was a mentor to many young guys in many ways.
A few years later after the above when I had a bit more time each work day to actually achieve something, during an intense work period Chris rang and asked me to come for a walk up Mt Maude with him to try out some new boots. Normally I'd have declined, but for some reason I said yes, and I organized myself accordingly.
On the walk it soon became apparent Chris needed to talk, and so it went. In retrospect I tend to think it was fortuitous that I could repay all of the great company he'd been to myself, when I was bogged down with being at home parenting. Now he was bogged down with confusion over a few things. Sure I was older, but I did not have all the answers to changes that were occurring in his life, so I just listened.
Little did we know that only a few weeks later we'd both be facing bigger changes!
His of course you know. Mine: In one of our more remote mountain spots I developed a near fatal lung infection.
I recovered slowly and I was only well enough to make it to Chris's funeral. Like many others there I realised the effort he'd made with so many people to be their friend through thick and thin [we'd often discussed his and my own childhoods, which saw us in constant contact with widely diverse age groups. This type of interaction I believe gave him the skills to be such a good communicator]
Even today I ponder at the way it all played out, often thinking "why did he meet an untimely, and not myself?"
I'm so grateful I said "yes" to our walk. We don't always get these chances in life, and the lesson is to always listen to our intuition, and value our friends!
His legacy gift, is I believe, for us to always be inspired by his caring way of living.
He often pops into my thoughts and I feel he's just dropped by again, and just as in the past, broadened my outlook!
Donald Dec 2010