Loss of a legend

The first time I watched “Gold Rush”, I was sucked into the vortex of Parker Schnabel. He was 17 years old and he was helping his Grandpa John on Big Nugget, a small gold mine. Parker was hooked he got gold fever. He had grown up working the mine and I watched as he fell in love with gold mining.

I was in awe—this 17-year-old kid worked around the clock. The work ethic was inspiring. He was dirty and cheeky and had a small smirk that you couldn’t not adore.

“Gold Rush” became my go to show and has been ever since.

I fell in love with Granpa John, too (though I might add there are many around the world who feel the same about that man). I have come to realise that it may have been because I adored my own grandad and looked up to him until the day he passed away (when I was only 16).

There was something about Granpa John that spoke to me. The life he had chosen and hardships he endured, and the way he built his businesses—and the way his love encompassed his family. I could see how powerful his connection was to his son and grandsons. And in return, I admired the respect the boys had for him. The most impressive part of their dynamic was the unexpected openness of their LOVE.

Parker and Grandpa John symbolised the relationship most of us want with someone close to us.  There was an undeniable support that Granpa John provided to Parker, an ongoing wisdom and faith that Parker could do whatever he set out to do.

Each week I would watch and be motivated to do more. Here was this young teenager who was putting in the hours while I slumped around watching TV shows. And while I don’t want to be a gold miner, I have a huge respect for Parker and what he has achieved. Now Parker isn’t perfect. In fact I would often find myself yelling at the TV (at him) for the way he acted or behaved. Watching his ups and downs, watching as he made mistakes and then realising and learning from those mistakes? Powerful stuff.

I know full well we probably didn’t see the worst of some of the situations (that is what editors are for), but I do know that Granpa John and Parker’s parents were there supporting him and guiding him.

Just stop for a moment and look at what Parker achieved: He set himself a 3000 ounce goal and not only did he make it, he surpassed it. He found ways to make his mine more efficient with a small crew.

Recently, Granpa John passed away. He was 96. I was in Brisbane shopping when I heard the news and I was devastated. Crying in the Chemist wasnt a good look. 

I knew in my heart at the beginning of the year it was going to be soon. He had a rough couple months battling illness but I had hoped that he would pull through like he had always done. Ninety-six years of life…. WOW, what an innings.

On reflection, I am happy he got to see his grandson hit another amazing goal. Parker exceeded all expectations and he was there by his side at the end. It was so touching to see him fly in to witness the last weigh in. His thoughts at that moment about his grandson had me in tears.  

It may sound strange to say about someone I have never met, but I can honestly say I am so proud of Parker. And my heart goes out to him.

It’s a hard thing to have these feelings for someone you have never met and it is one I am struggling with. I have this deep sadness. Every time I think about him tears well up in my eyes. As I blink hard to keep them back because it feels silly, at the same time I know it is real—he was pivotal in my life. I guess I just need to acknowledge that even though he didn’t know I existed.

He changed my outlook on life. I will be forever grateful.


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