we didn’t see a lot of each other after I came back to Sydney or indeed, after I left the company in 1994. You would occasionally call in to the Office in Melbourne during the 90’s but these visits often seemed more like a duty than a friendly catch up.
We would occasionally catch up for a coffee when I was back in Sydney but times had changed and there was a tension in these meetings I wished was not there.
To paraphrase the old Kevin Johnson song “Brian White, I gave you the best years of my life” and yet, there was now a distance between us I found this both unfathomable and hard to accept.
As I write this, I regret not being completely honest about my reasons for leaving the company.
I was loyal to you and I didn’t want to rock the family, I was also acutely aware it was a battle I could not win. Underlying all this, was the hope you and I may have some sort of a business future away from the family.
Your support both personally and businesswise between 1985 and 1994 was everything I could have hoped for. The mistake I made, was to believe our relationship could transcend the business.
The feelings of loss and separation after I left in 1994, are impossible to quantify. The depression and the personal sense of failure are perhaps unfathomable to someone who has not gone through something similar.
The loss of your guidance, support and friendship was the biggest blow of all.
The more I have dredged my past whilst writing this Journal, the more I have found that for almost every regret, every stupid mistake and every act of weakness on my part, there have been so many positives.
Good people, honest and sustaining love have made light of most of my mistakes. We have laughed about them, people have chastised me for them, my defenses have been shredded by logical argument, but; in most cases, the love has survived and prospered.
I can’t say this for you, and it hurts like hell. One of the greatest influences on my life is now not part of that life.
I know now, that leaving Ray White at the height of my success was not one of my mistakes. That decision should have been a source of pride, instead; I let it become a source of guilt, self-loathing and loss of self-worth.
That! Was my mistake.
A family boardroom when you are not part of the family and your whole being is being undermined by some members of that family, is somewhere I could not be.
I know people who, still to this day, hide their sexuality at work and, even; in some cases with their families. Whilst I understand and empathize with these people, I knew in 1994 my journey was so complete, this was no longer an option for me.
I knew that sitting in a Boardroom, charged with barely concealed enmity and homophobia would have eventually destroyed me. Every barb, every slight would take me back to the schoolyard taunts and the guilt I had tried so hard to leave behind..
I should have fought, instead; I slunk away with a sense of shame and guilt.
That! was also my mistake.
A mistake fueled by misguided loyalty and a desperate need to prove myself to you all over again.
The last time we spoke was in May 2013, you called to invite me to the N.S.W. Awards Night where you planned to present me with a National Lifetime Achievement Award.
The night was a week away.
“Thanks Brian, I really appreciate it, but I will not be here, Billy and I are leaving for a holiday in Thailand on Saturday”
“Can’t you change it?”
“No, Flights are booked and Billy has organised his holidays at work”
“I am disappointed”
“I am sorry, but we are really looking forward to getting away, a week’s notice is a bit short”
I sent you a note on the day of the Awards night to wish you all the best, that is the last communication we have had.
I was woken on Saturday 8 January 2017 by a call from a friend.
“Bruce, you have to see the Weekend Australian today”
“You won’t have to go past the front page”
A Picture of you and Rosie under a banner headline.
“From tin shed to harbour side mansion, family values never lost at the White House”
There is not one part of me that begrudges your success, you have built a stunning business and I am proud of my role in that process.
A eulogy to Alan and Paul, however; was more than I could take with my cornflakes, There were at least 10 people I could think of, who were more deserving of respect and gratitude for the growth of your business.
You had the front page of Australia’s National Newspaper; you could not spare one line to thank the many people who had given everything to help you achieve what you had.
No names were required, we would have known who we are.
Suddenly, I was glad I did not collect my Lifetime Achievement Award. After almost 22 years I was free.
Good bye Brian