The murder of a young actor, which has sent shockwaves through the local entertainment community, has come as no surprise to his mother and she doesn’t want the memory of her only child to be turned into any pity party. She prefers it to be a celebration of his life which he lived to the fullest.
It has been mere days since 22-year-old Graeme Norville, lead actor in the controversial series Badness was shot and killed at Rock Hall, St George. But his mother, Chief Welfare Officer, Deborah Norville said she had been preparing for sometime.
“I feared always, from the time he was a boy that he would die young. He had two speeds: zero and 100. If it’s zero, he isn’t doing it at all, but at 100, he is doing it to all.
“There never seemed to be much of an in-between and as a parent, that concerned me. He always had this stubborn, determined personality. It didn’t make sense lashing him as a child because it had no effect. He was that stubborn,” recalled Norville.
Last Saturday when her son lay in a pool of blood with a gunshot wound to his head, she remembered telling friends and relatives, “I could handle this . . . just take me to him.”
The grieving mother says she is at “peace” as she spoke glowingly, but honestly about her son.
Smiling, she recalled Graeme as a third form Combermere student performing acrobatic stunts on the school’s lawn, which were captured on camera and widely-circulated on social media.
“When he landed on his feet, his face was just beaming and everyone was cheering, but my heart was on the floor,” she recalled.
When challenged to defend his actions, “He said, ‘mummy, I have found something that I like and no matter what you say, I am not going to stop doing it.’ I knew at that moment that his time on this earth would be short,” she said.
Then came his motorcycle, which became another bone of contention between the mother and her son.
“There was a time I got down on my knees and I cried and I cried and I said ‘Graeme, put down the bike, just put down the bike . . . . We were both crying and I thought I had gotten through, but he said to me, ‘mummy I love you and I don’t want to hurt you but if I put down my bike, you will be happy but I am not going to be happy and I want to live my life happy. If I die early, so be it. He was just Graeme,” she added.
While she did not expect her son to die by the gun, Norville admitted that not even that had come as a total surprise, “especially in these violent times”.
“Graeme was a child who was small in stature but he refused to be bullied. He would stand up to the biggest and baddest,” said Norville who insisted her son was not one to initiate confrontation.
“He isn’t going to trouble anybody first, but for God’s sake, don’t trouble him because he wasn’t going to back down. He wasn’t going to cower.”
Graeme was most popularly known for his role as Short Boss in the popular web series, Badness that highlighted the lifestyle of crime and violence, common in some local communities. While she did not fully understand his reasoning for participating in the controversial series, she respected it.
“He said it’s about lawlessness and showcasing what is really going on out there,” said Norville.
While she was extremely skeptical about his involvement in the series, Norville admitted she believed it served its purpose.
“A lot of people live in that world, so if it brings attention to the activities that are fueling it and showcasing the pain which is causing them to react the way they do then it’s a good thing. I feel as though my son died as a celebrity and a martyr.”
She added that the support and outpouring of love since her son’s death have been extremely overwhelming and confirm for her the love and respect people had for him.
Graeme’s life however was not only about thrill-seeking and chasing stardom.
His mother recalled his unwavering dedication to his young sons, two-year-old Gerrad and seven-month-old Gerrel.
“He loved the boys. He loved the boys so much,” she said.
“I can’t wait for my aviary to be finished, because it will just be me, my children and my animals in there,” she recalled him saying as she looked today at her son’s unfinished bird sanctuary.
“He saw stardom, but outside of that, he loved nature and that is where he felt most comfortable. He had five dogs, 20 something ducks, rabbits, turtles, hamsters, and fish… you name it and it was in this yard,” she said with a smile.
“While he loved the attention he also loved someplace to retreat to.”
Norville also recalled her son’s decision to dig three small ponds around their house, against her will.
“He said: ‘trust me, this is for you and you’re going to love it,” she said. In establishing the pond, the innovative young man created a tranquil oasis in the backyard of his mother’s Lemon Arbor, St John home, which the entire family, including his two sons could enjoy the best of nature.
Now, she said the pond which she once forbade had become a place of healing and meditation.
“People are asking ‘how can I be okay.’ I am okay because nobody knew that child better than me. I have lived with him for 22 years and I made peace that he was going to go early and that was what he wanted, because he wanted to live life.
“He was small in stature but just a big personality. If you knew him, you would either love him or hate him,” she concluded.