Throughout my life I have had mentors at various times. Sometimes they have been life long mentors, other times they have been in my life for only a short time, but they have left something permanent in my life that has helped me become who I am today.
At the time they were supporting or teaching me, I haven’t always appreciated how much these people taught or supported me. Sometimes this has only been appreciated in retrospect, even years after the fact.
As we age, or move on in our lives, sometimes we lose contact with these mentors, but we don’t forget them, and sometimes they are older than us and pass on, leaving us to remember and miss them. Today I received an e mail from the personal assistant of one of my mentors from the mid-1960s when I first met him in Africa. I was there working for my biological father (a full-on psychopath) filming wild life for a TV series. The man was Dr. Ian Player, who died November 30th, 2014.
Ian’s obituary doesn’t even begin to tell what a remarkable man he was.
Ian Player, conservationist.
Born: 15 March, 1927, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Died: 30 November, 2014, Karkloof, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, aged 87.
It was my own privilege to walk with Player in the South African wilderness among lion, rhino and hyena and talk with him for hours and hours in the tree-enveloped Zululand farmhouse where he spent his final years.
Ian leaves a great raft of extraordinary achievements to his name, but he will be memorialised above all for his derring-do endeavours in saving the white rhinoceros, whose numbers were once down to fewer than 50, from extinction.
Today, thanks to Player, there are more than 20,000 white rhinos in the wild throughout central and southern Africa – so many that they are now being poached in South Africa alone at a rate of more than one thousand animals a year, their horns being smuggled out by ruthless mafia-style gangs through foreign embassies to feed the modern craze for powdered horn in China and Vietnam.
For the full obituary, click here:
I met Ian in 1966 in Hluhluwe National park in South Africa, when I was an adolescent , and he a game ranger, working to save the white Rhino. Ian had a huge library on the history of South Africa and the game animals and I spent many many hours reading books about the country and it’s people, both black and white. I spent many more hours with him darting and capturing various wild life as we filmed these adventures.
I left Africa and came back to the US and for decades I didn’t have any more contact with Ian, but then due to the internet and e mail I got back into contact with this man and he again became a wonderful mentor to me over the last 20 years of his life. We discussed many things about my trip to Africa that I had wondered about, and about my biological father and some of his psychopathic dealings both with Ian and with the government of South Africa in another trip Arthur made that I was not on. I had wondered about these things, and though until Ian and I became more intimate he didn’t want to discuss these things with me, but he eventually did reveal them to me. I gained more and more respect for this remarkable man. While I was there in the 1960s I had heard stories of his bravery and courage from the other rangers there who were in awe of this man. These were the men who had worked hand in hand with him for years and years.
Ian’s willingness to share with me the information I wanted helped me to finally come to some closure about the events in Africa both when I was there and after I came back to the US.
In his autobiography my biological father had damned both Ian and myself for hundreds of pages. I realized after I had heard the real story from Ian about his last interaction with my psychopathic father just why he would hate Ian so very much. Ian had stood up to him when they were in a literal “Mexican Stand-off” and the psychopath could not stand to have someone call him out…”Shoot, Luke or put your gun down.” Arthur (the psychopath) was in a dire financial and political position and he threatened Ian with death if he didn’t bail him out (illegally) and Ian stood up to him and said “Go ahead and kill me, but I will not do what you are demanding.” Arthur backed down. Not long after that the South African government confiscated everything Arthur owned and threw him and his group out of the country.
Arthur hated Ian after that because he stood up to him. He hated me because he knew I was not afraid of him any more and had escaped him after he raped me. He was always afraid someone in his extended family or the public would believe me about the rape.
During the time of my beloved step-father’s illness and death, and the time we spent together as I cared for him for the last 18 months of his life, I realized just how much he had loved me and mentored me as a child, and I fully came to appreciate just how much, though at the time I didn’t always appreciate it for what it was, a deep love.
Other mentors in my life have had profound effects on my healing from the devastation of the psychopaths in my life. A minister, Charles Moncrief, who was a volunteer minister in the prison in Texas and knew Patrick (or thought he did anyway) comforted me after the death of my husband in the plane crash 10 years ago, and during the time I was in hiding, was there for me by e mail and telephone and helped in my spiritual awakening during the most difficult time in my life. Charles writes and preaches non-violence for domestic violence victims.
The list could go on and on of the people who have “been there” for me to support and/or guide me, including my therapists and many friends. There are also those I have met on the internet, and never set eyes on their faces, yet who have also mentored me and supported and taught me…many of them post here. Many of them have shared their own stories of abuse and recovery.
I have tried to return the support and mentoring to those who are also suffering from the effects of violence and abuse at the hands of abusers and offenders (convicted or not) but I have found in the process of reaching out a hand to others, that those others have provided me with just as much support or more than I have given to them.
When two one-legged men put their arms around each other they can both stand. If you have had mentors, then mentor others. You will both profit from the exchange.