Closer to the bone

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Comin’ from the heartbeat. Nothin’ but the truth now
Everything is sweeter, closer to the bone

– Kris Kristofferson

Every time I find an excuse to be fearful I discover a reason to be strong.

My recent Blogs on the medical challenges I face seem to have struck a chord with many people. The feedback has been both constant and inspirational.

I no longer feel embarrassed about writing on the subject. Hopefully in some small way these entries have helped people realise that one of the worst demons many of us will face one day – either in our own lives or those of people close to us – is a challenge that can and needs to be stared down.

But, and here I speak with the humility of experience, that is easier said than done. It is natural, in fact it’s right, to be scared by the dreaded ‘C word’ and by very real questions over one’s mortality.

As my own major operation (a gastrectomy) nears, I admit to harbouring many fears over what the future might hold. Once again though, travel retail keeps coming to my rescue, most notably at the recent ASUTIL conference in Puerto Rico.

AUSTIL President Paco Heredia, who I have mentioned affectionately before in this Blog, passed through London last week to participate in the Frontier Awards judging. While in the capital, he left me an envelope to collect from the hotel he had stayed at. It left me flabbergasted when I picked it up.


Inside was a ten-page folder full of good wishes from, it seems, the entire delegate base from the ASUTIL 2011 conference – retailers, suppliers, fellow (and rival) journalists, airport executives. Some of the signatures I cannot read, many of the words are in Spanish which is not my strongest suit – yet the message of each is clearly one of love and hope. To be offered, by way of example, the support of Dufry’s entire Brazilian and Bolivian teams – “all 2,000 of us” – is just about the best tonic anyone can get.

I thank ASUTIL and all its delegates for this most precious of gifts and I look forward to returning to future conferences so I can say thank you in person.

I was equally encouraged by many other messages I have received in recent days, many containing life-affirming themes. Brian Collie, a man whose notes always make me think and smile in equal measure, cajoled me as always into a positive mood, reminding me of an old and wise friend and colleague of his back in 1975 who had a gastrectomy when he was around 64 (“so, younger than you, I think,” wrote Brian with more than a hint of his native Scottish mischief) and lived a full and hearty life well into his 80s.

“His usual meals were small and frequent and accompanied by copious amounts of whisky at each sitting,” he continued. “Sounds like the Sauvignon Blanc won’t suffer.”

Now that’s what I call therapeutic talk! I may not have a stomach in future but I sure as well will have a palate and I will find a way to pleasure it with fine wine whatever it takes.

Like a good Scot, Brian also offered to buy me lunch – after the stomach is gone. “Should be quite cheap by then…” he noted.

I’m not so sure Mr Collie. Little and often is the doctor’s description of my future diet and I’m prepared to sip on a little bottle of Pétrus quite often when I see you in early 2011. You have been warned…

From June Foo, a quite lovely woman at Diageo Global Travel & Middle East in Singapore, came a truly moving story about her Dad who was diagnosed with the final stage of renal failure when he was 49 years old and given 3-6 months to live.

June takes up the story: “His will to live on came mainly because he was the sole breadwinner of the family and he wanted to still provide for us all till we were all independent enough to be on our own. He continued to work each time he was discharged from hospital and this went on for another 13 years.

“He still rode on his 3-wheel motorcycle to and fro throughout (something that we could never take away from as it was his source of independence!). He retired when my brother & I started our families and he found even more strength and willpower to live on as he was overjoyed with being a grandfather. That made him even more determined to live on so he could have fun with them.

“Throughout his ordeal with the illness for 20 years, there were several ups and downs we had to go through as a family together. We became a lot closer as a result and it would not have been so if not for my Dad’s illness.

“His willpower and forward-looking mindset are a real inspiration for me. The fact he survived another 20 years even though the doctor gave him only months is something I’m so proud of and will want my kids to be proud of too. His legacy will be with us and his grandchildren forever.

“Never underestimate,” concludes June, “the strength and willpower you have in you and also lean on others to get the power too.”

Indeed June, I will. In fact I already have.

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  • Hello! Mr. Martin,

    You will be good!
    Come back to this battlefield.
    We have to taste the Ice wine & Mak-Geol-Ri (Korean Rice Wine) together.
    Hope to see you soon again!!