19 Aug 2021 | Feature stories |

#BigFella40 | Compiling Jarrod's legacy

by Martin Blake

Jarrod Lyle reading a green while wearing his famous yellow hat.

To celebrate what would have been Jarrod Lyle’s 40th birthday, Challenge and the PGA have asked Jarrod’s family, friends, colleagues, and the infinite people he influenced, to share their favourite stories of the affable Tour Professional.

Jarrod Lyle and I collaborated on a book along with our great friend Mark Hayes in 2016-18.

It was a labor of love for Jarrod; even back then he knew that he was facing challenges that were potentially overwhelming. He’d endured his third stem cell transplant to fend off the curse of acute myeloid leukemia, and he knew how rare that was.

Jarrod wanted to have something for his kids to remember him by, in this case, some words in a book. It was his call to do the book; Haysey and I were just the facilitators or ‘ghosts’, and as it happened, friends of his whose help he wanted.

It was a stop-start affair, the whole compilation process. When Haysey and I first sat down with Jarrod, it was in the Geelong Hospital and needless to say, he was not well. Had Jarrod ever said ‘can’t do it, I’m in hospital’, he would not have achieved much in his life. He hated them, but he virtually lived in them.

We had to work with that. We always had to factor in that Jarrod just might not be up to the interview process. Sometimes, we’d have to go months and months without seeing him at all. Ultimately I think Haysey and I saw it as our duty to get those words on a screen for posterity, just in case time ran out. It was the last thing that we could do for he and Briony and the kids.

Often, we went to the family home in Torquay so that he was comfortable. Right near the end, Haysey went to see him in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, when he was literally on his death bed, and he cracked a joke about which orifices the nurses may or may not have inserted instruments into. 

He also knew he was about to check out. Now that would have been a hard interview.

Jarrod’s story is sad and fundamentally tragic, a life cut way too short. But the truth of it is, we laughed a hell of a lot through that process. Jarrod poured his heart out to us and so did Briony.

I think they got something out of the fact that we could talk about it all. And Jarrod was flat-out funny. As all of his friends know, he never took life too seriously.

Although sometimes, he could bear down on the hard facts. My most vivid memory of putting together his book is from the front room at Torquay one day. Jarrod was telling us about his great friendship with Dave Rogers, the Challenge CEO, and his voice broke just a little:

“Put it this way, if the worst happens, I know Lusi and Jemma will be all right …”

The tears came right then and they came for all of us. Jarrod, me and Hayesy, grown men just blubbering. Because Jarrod loved his family unconditionally, and he shouldn’t have been taken from them.

I miss those times. Most of all, I miss him.

To find out more about Jarrod’s ongoing legacy as part of Challenge – supporting kids with cancer, head to challenge.org.au/jarrods-gift/

Martin Blake is the co-author of ‘My Story – Jarrod Lyle’ and friend of the Lyle family.

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