Tracy Gaddin teetered on the edge of the bluff, sweat beading on her brow, eyes clouded with pain. The young girl was unaware of the angel hovering nearby. She was on a mission and intended to complete what she had begun. With one final look toward the heavens Tracy disappeared over the edge.
This is the fate of many who stand atop the rocky cliff of Sydney Harbor, called “The Gap” by the locals. For years it has been a suicidal drop of the desperate and destitute.
Unless … they are fortunate enough to meet up with Don Ritchie, who has lived across the street for nearly 50 years. The guardian of the bluff has saved 160 people according to the official count. The city council named Don and his wife, Moya, 2010’s Citizens of the Year.
This gentle man with the ever-ready smile was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2006, one of the highest civilian honors. It’s displayed on his living room wall along with a painting of sunshine that someone left in his mailbox with a message: An angel walks among us.
Still, the greatest reward the 84-year-old receives is the ones who walk away.
Like the woman he spied sitting alone; her purse on the other side of the three-foot fence. As always, he smiled and with a calm raspy voice offered her a cup of tea. Within minutes, she was at the table with Don and Moya pouring her heart out. She was able to return home that day with her spirit lifted.
Within weeks, the woman returned with a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Once a year she visits or writes the Ritchie’s to let them know that she is well and happy.
If you know anyone that has reached a place where they feel hopeless and alone; think that nobody cares; are convinced there is no way out; believes there is no other choice but to end it all … please, call 1-800-suicide. Your friend deserves a chance. Remember: suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
May Your Glass Always Be Half Full
What’s happening at Maxi’s house?