I was in college and trying to pay my way through as best as I could when of all things my grandmother, Vi got me a job that no one knew the implications. It was working at a Pipe/Tobacco store where I sold expensive Meerschaum pipes down to ones that look like Popeye would toke on in between downing cans of spinach.
The real behind the scenes stuff was the great stuff. . .I would cover for Charlie my boss, who was either out cheating on his wife or playing poker with the boys when his wife would call and he’d look the other way when I took REESES CUPS and SNICKERS for dinner; it was a good deal made better when the Pipe shop would close and I would go a half of a block down the street to his retail store where he sold a host of mostly unnecessary plastic objects and a few vinyl records. It was there that I sold hundreds of Olivia Newton-John’s records:
I never tagged her as Country-Western but that’s the section Charlie wanted to peg her under and I spent a lot of time hitting the cash register tune of glorious sales for him and her.
THIS is hardly what anyone would remember about Olivia Newton-John after hearing of her death earlier this week. WHAT IS BEING REMEMBERED AND CELEBRATED is just what a ferocious Caring Catalyst she has always been. Having been diagnosed with Breast Cancer well over 30 years ago, she never took the “WHY ME?” stance or the “I WILL NEVER DIE” denial position; Olivia made sure that something way past her last song would not just be remembered but used her platform to become an advocate, a Caring Catalyst for all cancers–spending tons of time, energy, and money building research organizations, clinics, and more.
Craig Marshall is a guy I met through National Speakers Association who often tells the story:
There’s still Olivia Newton-John…. When I was a monk, I had an coaching session with a man that told me the saddest story I ever heard. He’d been in a car accident, which killed several of his children. His wife was in a coma for months and then died. He lost his job and his dog died. It was sad beyond words. But when he ended telling me his litany of loss, he paused and looked at me and whist-fully said, “But you know what? There’s still Olivia Newton-John!” Years went by, and I found myself sitting at an outdoor restaurant table in Malibu, designing a book cover with my good friend Fred Segal.
After discussing some graphic possibilities, Freddie said, “We’re guys. We need some different input,” and he yelled over to two ladies sitting at a nearby table, “Come over here please.” They came over, sat down, and Fred started asking them about what they thought his book cover should look like. After awhile, for whatever, reason, everyone at the table got up and began talking to friends who’d entered the restaurant, leaving me alone with this poised blonde lady with an English/Australian accent. It suddenly hit me, and I said, “Are you Olivia Newton-John?” and she said yes. I told her, “I’m so glad to meet you because I want to share with you a story of a man who lost almost everything in life, but clung to you as his only inspiration.”
Olivia was always charming, and I ended up hosting several workshops at her home. She was always thoughtful, genuine and just lovely.
I don’t know why people hope their departing loved ones “rest in peace”. I wish for Olivia great music, great fun, and great friends. Her smile is what I’ll remember. It was so dazzling that she never needed to wink. Like that guy, I also believe that there will always be Olivia Newton-John.
ONE OUT OF ONE OF US DIES
is one of the harshest realities ”
any of us with a pulse
will ever wrestle
B U T
there’s something that
goes beyond the Life
we live here
and that’s the
L I F E
and that’s the
E X I S T E N C E
even make possible
way after we are gone
. . .that’s a huge part of what it means to be a Caring Catalyst
to begin in others
what will outlast us and even them
but never goes into extinction
as long as we keep sharing our very Best
for the Best of everyone else. . .
Yes, there’s still Olivia Newton-John
a Hopelessly Devoted Caring Catalyst