Wednesday evening October 25, 2006 at around 6pm, Jimmy, my dearest friend and mentor, transitioned into heaven to begin the next phase of his life! A time of great sorrow and great celebration. Sorrow because a great light was extinguished on the planet with Jimmy’s passing, and a time of celebration as Jimmy was finally re-united with his beloved wife Joy who had passed before him 26 years earlier.
Jimmy was a rare man, a great man, one of very few men who lived by his word. Jimmy was a man of quiet strength…of fearlessness. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, you listened. He never made a promise he couldn’t keep as his word was his bond. He was a gentleman, loving, kind, generous, had a great sense of humour, loyal, tough and ruthless when and if he needed to be and very, very stubborn.
Jimmy was a business legend, a self-made man. He had the Midas touch. He always new what he wanted and always got what he wanted. He began his professional career as a professional gambler, you know like those people you watch making millions playing poker on TV today. But when he married the love of his life, Joy, in the mid 50’s, he decided that wasn’t the life for a family man and switched over to the brokerage business. He created all that he needed and retired in 1975. He always said to me, “Take some and leave some kid for the others coming behind you…don’t be greedy!” It was his motto and he repeated it to me over and over during the last 17 years.
I met Jimmy the evening of July 15, 1989 at a Kolbe’s Steak House in Vancouver. I had just moved to Vancouver and was having a drink with a girlfriend before heading off to Richards on Richards to go dancing.
As I was about to take a sip from my drink when in walked what had to be a movie star God. I had to concentrate to keep my mouth from dropping and spilling my drink. He was stunning, drop dead gorgeous, just oozing of class, charisma and confidence. He glanced over at me and paused, his eyebrow shrugged upward in what I learned over time was a classic gesture of his and then he walked over, sat down across from me and said “You are the most gorgeous woman I have ever seen; I should (F......)kidnap you right now!!! I started laughing thinking, hmmm, quite the opening salvo. Should I be worried or thrilled? And then I looked directly into his laughing eyes and there was instant recognition. I knew immediately that I had known this man for lifetimes and I was safer than I had ever been in my life.
My girlfriend and I got up to leave about 20 minutes after Jimmy arrived...he stood immediately as a gentleman does and asked me to stay and have a drink with him. I politely declined as I had plans with my girlfriend to go dancing. As Robin and I were heading out the door she said to me, “Did you give that man your number?” I said “no.” she laughed...I said “I don't have to because he will find me!”...and she laughed again and said “how is that possible? He only knows your first name” I continued laughing and replied, “I could tell by the look in his eye and our immediate connection that he will hunt for me until he finds me!”
And he did! The phone started ringing at about 6pm Oct 31, 1989 just before I was leaving to take my kids out Trick or Treating. I was living in Louis Riel house the family residence at Simon Fraser University with my four children. I had moved everyone over in May 1989 to attain a degree in business administration.
So I answered the phone and I heard his voice:”Is this Catherine?”...and I started to laugh! “Hi Jimmy, I have been waiting for your call. It took you long enough to find me”...Jimmy started laughing and replied...Do you have any idea how hard it was to find you. I only knew your name was Catherine and that you went to University and had four young children...and I didn't know which university. You have no idea what I had to do to find you.”…and I replied “I can only imagine” and we laughed and laughed.
We made plans to meet the next week at the Safeway on East Hastings close by the University in Burnaby. Little did we know that there were two Safeway’s on E. Hastings about 3 miles apart...I was standing waiting in the rain for him at one and he was standing in the rain at the other waiting for me with no cell phone to call each other. So we both thought we had stood each other up. Jimmy called later in the day to ask me what had happened. We had another great laugh at the mix up in Safeway’s and made plans for lunch the next day, November 10, 1989.
But Nov. 10, 1989 started horribly. At 8am...I answered the phone and it was my Aunt. She was calling to say that my Dad was dead...My mother had tried to wake him at 7:30am and called the ambulance and started CPR but he was gone. I started wailing and beating my head against the wall. I manage to call Jimmy to explain why I couldn't come to lunch. He made me promise to call him when I felt better, but that day never materialized.
Jimmy called me about mid December to find out how I was and why I hadn’t called. I just told him I wasn’t interested in seeing him or anyone anytime soon. We hung up and about 10 minutes later he called back and said we had to have dinner or lunch because if we didn’t he felt like he was losing someone he had known all his life and he didn’t quite understand why. Well I knew, as I thought back to the first time I looked into his eyes and instantly recognized our lifetimes of knowing each other. I knew we were “soul family” so I relented and agreed to have dinner with him. We renewed our eternal bond to each other and nothing or no one would separated us again until Jimmy took his last breath that early evening on October 25, 2006
Jimmy was an integral part of every aspect of my life over the last 17 years. He always believed in me when so many people including my family didn't. He gave me invaluable advice when I started my companies and throughout my personal life and professional career. He was my anchor in stormy seas and the sunshine in my success. I could always crawl into his lap in the worst of times and the best of times. His love for me was truly unconditional and to see it and feel it I just had to look into his eyes or listen to his voice. The love from his eyes would shine out or the tones of his voice would fill me with peace and knowing that my world was perfect no matter what was going on!
There were three important aspects Jimmy ingrained into me regarding business. Always stand in my truth no matter what anyone else thought or did and honour my word…The third lesson was retribution if anyone dishonoured any type of business agreement. I was taught to pull out all the stops to right the wrong, to kick and shove to ensure that the injustice was corrected and that I came out the winner. And there were a few times that I had to do just that. One in particular!
In early 2001, I put together what looked like a great partnership between my company and two large corporations. They were supposed to bring in a lot of customers in exchange for us buying their software, hardware and services. We put our money where our mouths were and they didn’t and we became aware of why in the fall 2001. To make a long story short, I told them to go pound sand. They fired back by telling me we weren’t partners and they would cut me off which would result in irreparable harm to the company and our customers. Yes, a very valuable lesson in deed! My definition and their definition of partners was like night and day! Jimmy was incensed at their dishonourable conduct as he had looked over the whole deal himself and was pleased until he heard what was going on. I laid out my plan to Jimmy of how I was going to stop them. He laughed as he usually did and went” Go get em kid, they are dishonourable bastards and although they have a lot of money they can throw at you, you go get them, what they are doing is wrong.” I’ll take a ticket on you, kid!”
So January 23, 2002 was the showdown. David against the Goliaths and unfortunately this time David’s slingshot was off the mark. When my lawyer called at 2 in the afternoon during a break in the courtroom battle to tell me how it was going, I knew intuitively that we had lost. I called Jimmy in tears and he was encouraging telling me that although my chances at winning were Slim and None, Slim hadn’t left town yet. I knew Slim had left town, so when I hung up the phone I opened a bottle of scotch and started drinking it with expensive Chardonnay chasers praying to God that the invisible bridge I was walking on over the seemingly endless deep abyss below would hold somehow.
At nine the next morning Jimmy called me at home and I told him that the lawyer had called to tell me we had lost. He said, “ what are you doing?” and I replied, “I am in bed with the covers over my head because I have lost everything. I am done, all is lost!”…and he started laughing, and I went “ how can you laugh Jimmy when all I have worked so hard for is done…all those years of school, hard work sacrifice is done and over!
And he laughed some more and said, “you are not done, get up and kick and shove!”…I replied, “ I have kicked and shoved and I lost!”…he went…”you just haven’t kicked and shoved hard enough!”… “so get out of bed, shower and be dressed when I call you back in 20 minutes to talk about how you are going to kick and shove harder!”… I asked “Are you sure I can do this?”…and Jimmy said, “you know I never say anything I don’t mean…you know I was a professional gambler Catherine and I never took a bet I couldn’t win….and my money is on you kid. I will take a ticket on you, every single time…you are the hardest worker I have ever known, raising your kids, going to school and building these companies from nothing…I am so proud of you…I don’t know how you do it…but you do…because you are a winner…you are just like Rocky…when you are down for the count and it looks like its all over…you get back up and throw the knockout punch… So If you aren’t up and dressed ready to talk in 20 minutes when I call back I will drive out, break down the door and get you dressed myself…This is NOT over and you are not done.
"I WILL ALWAYS TAKE A TICKET ON YOU KID! “
And so I got up, showered, got dressed, listened to his advice and went to work. And Jimmy was right. It wasn’t over at all, and it never will be as I learned the most valuable business lessons from that experience that will always see me through anything, anytime, anywhere!
So dearest Jimmy, I am taking a lot out, but you will always be proud because as you know, it is always being used to create positive changes for humankind and our planet so that others may take out as much as they need when they need it. So there will always be more than plenty left for those that want it.
This is a very global thank you, Jimmy, as the last 17 years were the best years of my life. You are quite simply the greatest man I have ever known. I AM grateful and appreciate every moment we shared and everything you taught me about life and business. And I AM so blessed we were able to find each other again in this lifetime!
I will love you, remember everything, and miss you Jimmy, every moment of every day until we meet again!