It is said that when a big tusker or a great spirit passes, Mother Nature opens her heavens and cries. On 16 May one of her favourite sons died and she cried. Maybe even more than me.
Bruce Bryden was a MAN. A large man in more ways than one. He did everything on a large scale. Eat, laugh, hunt, fish, love, fart, sneeze, tease and of course drink Castle. There are so few people who can say they really LIVED. Bruce is one of them. There were not many things left that he still wanted to do and his last fishing trip to Mozambique was the epitome of the man’s life. Everything to the max. He really was larger than life.
Everybody has a Bruce story.
Mine is that he was my Dad. The best dad a daughter could ask for. He did all the dad things with just the right amount of embarrassing authority but always with love.
He taught me to shoot
He would take me to the Winkel/Shop and buy us Coke and white bread for a Saturday morning treat.
He gave me “the talk” in a car, driving between Skukuza and Berg-en-Dal.
He woke me up by pouring ice water all over me a few times on Monday mornings in order to catch the four o’clock bus to Nelspruit.
He made all my girlfriends his mean garlic sauce for Sunday lunch, which ostracised us for a week at school and then again at varsity.
He hated concerts, functions etc, yet he was almost always there, cheering from the sides.
He walked me down the aisle.
He told my kids the stories he used to tell me and they loved him.
He loved me. I know this because he told me so - every time we spoke.
My list can go on forever, but what I really know about Bruce is that he also had a huge heart with love and empathy for many people. The amount of calls we have received is testament to this. Most people who love wildlife as much as Bruce did, adopt a stray at some point. Bruce never adopted stray animals, but there was always space in our house for people who needed a chat or a shoulder or a beer. He loved people and was always willing to lend an ear, some advice or even some financial assistance if necessary.
My last Bruce story probably is a good summary of him and his life. He was sitting on my coach watching the Jock of the Bushveld movie with my children and when Jock died he cried harder than my children. Even though Bruce was big, brave and loud he could shed a tear in movies, at races, when the Boks or the Proteas win, the Olympics.
It is ironic that the bravest man I know, who survived wounded buffaloes, hundreds of elephants, lions, hippo’s and what knows else, would be felled by the smallest but probably the most dangerous of all. The Mozzie.
Bruce did not want a ceremony in his memory but I’m sure that he won’t mind if you raise a Castle in his honour. Why don’t you share your Bruce story and a memory with your loved ones on Friday, 22 May at 18h00 with a Castle in your hand.