Sam John­son’s prom­ise to sis­ter Con­nie


New Idea - - Contents -

As Aus­tralia pre­pares to say good­bye to Sa­muel John­son’s brave and adored sis­ter Con­nie this week, the ac­tor has re­vealed his special prom­ise to her: ‘I will help raise your boys.’

The 40-year-old mum – who be­came the face of breast can­cer aware­ness through the Love Your Sis­ter char­ity – lost her bat­tle with the ter­mi­nal dis­ease, leav­ing behind sons Wil­loughby, 11, and Hamil­ton, 10.

Known af­fec­tion­ately as ‘Un­cle Long Legs’, Sam has now vowed to help their fa­ther Michael raise the ‘fine, young men’ through the years, work­ing to keep mem­o­ries of their late mum alive.

‘I’m one of the clos­est links the chil­dren will have to their mother and I’m set­ting my­self up to be the chief go-to guy if they ever have a ques­tion about [her],’ Sa­muel told New Idea. ‘These kids will know their mum long af­ter Con­nie has moved on.

‘I’m very at­tached to these boys. It will be my hon­our to keep Con­nie alive for her kids.’

Sa­muel has spo­ken af­fec­tion­ately of his gor­geous neph­ews in the lead-up to Con­nie’s sad pass­ing, re­veal­ing the mag­i­cal bond he shares with the boys.

‘I try to bring a bit of Enid Bly­ton and Roald Dahl into my re­la­tion­ship with them,’ he told New Idea. ‘They hon­estly be­lieve I can fly, and are con­vinced as long as they keep eating their fruit and veg­eta­bles, then coins will keep ap­pear­ing from their hearts.’

Prior to her sad pass­ing, Con­nie also opened up about the joy Sa­muel has brought to the young boys’ lives.

‘Ev­ery fam­ily’s got that favourite un­cle – the guy who wres­tles with the kids, plays hide-and-seek and jokes with them,’ she told New Idea.

‘He’s the laugh-a-lot un­cle – that’s who Sam is.’

In an­other in­ter­view, Con­nie re­vealed how much she and Sam strug­gled with their mother’s sui­cide when they were both very young – and how it pained her to think of her boys ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a sim­i­lar loss.

‘[Wil­loughby and Hamil­ton] were three and four when I was di­ag­nosed, and Sam and I were three and four when our mum died and we have no mem­o­ries of our mum,’ she re­vealed. ‘That was very hard, think­ing my chil­dren wouldn’t re­mem­ber me. Now I know they are old enough to have a mem­ory of me. It may be weird lit­tle mem­o­ries, but at least they will have them for the rest of their lives.’ Sa­muel’s Love Your Sis­ter cam­paign has seen him raise mil­lions, with the Lo­gie-win­ner vow­ing to re­tire from act­ing un­til the char­ity reaches $10 mil­lion. As part of his plan to raise aware­ness, Sa­muel com­pleted a world record-break­ing 15,955km uni­cy­cle ride – which made Con­nie the face of the cam­paign as a re­sult. The hero mum has bat­tled can­cer for three decades, af­ter first be­ing di­ag­nosed with bone can­cer at 11, suf­fer­ing a tu­mour in her womb at 22, and then be­ing di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal breast can­cer on son Wil­loughby’s fourth birth­day.

Af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing news, Sa­muel asked Con­nie how he could help – and this lead to the Love Your Sis­ter legacy.

‘In a mo­ment that changed my life I said: “What do you want your legacy to be?”’ he told the ABC. ‘And Con­nie breathed in with what I like to say was more grav­i­tas than the Queen of Eng­land, and de­cided then and there that she wanted to re­mind ev­ery young mum in the land to check their boobs. Be­cause mums just for­get about their health – your chil­dren just come first – and you end up putting your own health is­sues fur­ther down the line.’

The char­ity’s aware­ness cam­paign has al­ready lead to many Aus­tralian women seek­ing treat­ment af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed early, which brought Con­nie much joy in her last few years.

‘It makes me feel that if I’d been di­ag­nosed early, I would never have started Love Your Sis­ter – and those women might be re­ally sick in a few years,’ she told New Idea. ‘So maybe what’s hap­pened to me has hap­pened for a rea­son.’

Invit­ing Con­nie’s mil­lions of Aussie sup­port­ers from around the coun­try to at­tend her funeral, Sa­muel has de­scribed this Satur­day’s farewell as a cel­e­bra­tion of her rich life: ‘It will be more like a party.’

In her last in­ter­view on Au­gust 31, Con­nie re­vealed her fi­nal mes­sage to the world.

‘Thank you for the love, thank you for the sup­port, thank you for the friend­ship. Live each day, no­tice the nice mo­ments and now is awe­some,’ she said.

Main pho­tos: Tina Smigiel­ski NI

MELISSA DOYLE CAR­RIE BICKMORE RE­BECCA GIB­NEY Sam shared an open in­vi­ta­tion to Con­nie’s funeral on Face­book. Con­nie and Sam won hearts and saved lives across the coun­try through the Love Your Sis­ter legacy (right) – which has raised more than $7 mil­lion for breast can­cer re­search.

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