Tonight I watched the Four Corners documentary on journalist Liz Jackson’s diagnosis of Parkinsons on ABC’s Iview. It was heart-breakingly honest, raw and humbling and if you’re reading this, I implore anyone to watch it.
I decided to write this lady of great worth a letter.
Dear Ms Jackson,
As a member of a family who only ever watched or listened to the ABC, I remember you since childhood, later on Four Corners. In my memory you were always either wearing a bullet proof vest or interviewing really hard men. You often had a look on your face, like an astute school principal – I’ll know if you’re lying – as you questioned your interviewees. I was always in a kind of awe of you, like you must have been something very different and powerful.
As a wannabe journalist and writer as a kid, I was almost certainly imitating you when I would walk down the dirt road past my house and crouch down, picking up sand in my hand and pretend I was talking into a camera about some serious issue. I would always start my imaginary doco with the words “Out here…”and invariably drift off into a number of made up topics about the secret controversies of life in the bush and then slowly pour the sand through my loose fist (cue slow camera zoom out and deep serious look on my face….)
Since then, you’ve remained a powerhouse image in my head – someone who, in interviews, is effortlessly calm and pointed but who can disarm by suddenly being funny and wry. Infamously cagey types were always prized open in your hands. Dangerous people admitted things unspoken before.
The documentary I watched tonight on your Parkinsons’ diagnosis has had the immediate effect, among others, of turning all of the daily anxieties and dramas in my own head into tiny little flickable balls of paper. It made me feel a huge sense of sorrow but simultaneously gratitude for life. It also made me think of family. It made me think about what love really means and what a good man looks like.
Your unerring resolve to be true and to get the truth, is what makes you peerless and awesome to me.
I’m struggling to avoid all those clichès but I’d really just like to tell you that you’ve inspired me for twenty years and you continue to inspire me.
In a period of life you could have easily and justifiably shunned the outside gaze, you remain unflinching so that others can grasp at something deeply profound.
Thank you Liz Jackson. We owe you a great deal.