One of the things that crime fiction lovers like about their sleuths is that they do the right thing. They solve crimes, they sometimes "save the day," and even when they don't go wading into gun battles or rescue people from burning buildings, they add good to the world. They make a difference. We want to believe that there are people out there who want justice, or who want to protect people from criminals, or who want to make things right, and our crime fiction heroes often give us that sense, even if they are far from perfect themselves. That's one reason that we cheer on characters like Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus, Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti and Adrian Hyland's Emily Tempest. I like that about those sleuths, too. That's why this blog is about crime fiction. But you don't have to be a sleuth to make a difference, to set things right and to make things better, which is why today's post isn't really about crime fiction.
Instead, today I'd like to share with you the story of a real person who made a difference and who, in his own way, set things right just as much as Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse or Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. Jacob Price was born with what many people would think of as "strikes against him." He had Down's Syndrome and a rare heart condition, either of which alone could have left a person unhappy, frustrated, and even bitter. But that's not how Jacob chose to live his life. Instead, he led a full, active, rich and giving life. He was a talented singer and musician, and "…established himself as a leading light" of The Honeytones, a band that includes a wide variety of music in its repertoire and allows musicians with special needs the chance to share their talents - and their love of music. Do you see the Honeytones button on my sidebar? Please do check the band out. If you live in the U.K. you're especially lucky because you can book the band yourself or go hear them play. Even if you can't do that, you can help spread the word about them.
Jacob Price was more than just a musical artist, though. He was also a real influence for good. For example, he took part in a rigourous 12-week Prince's Trust course and although it wasn't easy, he didn't give up and in fact, won an award (that's Jacob accepting his award - third from the right). He inspired other young people taking the course with him not to give up, either. He befriended people wherever he went, and just his example of kindness, perseverance and good humour was a model for others. Including me. I admit that I never had the honour of knowing Jacob personally, but I do know that he made the world a better place.
Without the bitterness of a Lincoln Rhyme or the fears and insecurities of a Sid Halley, Jacob Price overcame significant obstacles and realised his full potential. Life gives all of us sadness, difficulties and even tragedy. By simply living his life to the fullest and sharing his talents, Jacob showed us all how to embrace life. In doing so, he became a hero. At least for me. Sadly, Jacob passed away on 12 January, 2011. But in his short lifetime, he made more of a difference than many people do who live many more years.
In Jacob's memory, I invite you to try something you didn't think you could do, or that you were told you couldn't do. I invite you to choose kindness instead of prejudice, and to focus on the good in life. That's at least as heroic as anything a crime fiction sleuth does.
NOTE: My sincere thanks to Norman and Diana Price, who were kind enough to share these 'photos of Jacob and to allow me to share his memory. Our thoughts and wishes for hope and healing go out to you both!