real life

Life can change in an instant. Kelly Exeter shares her late husband's six rules for life.

Last Sunday night, Anthony Exeter had his life support turned off.

The father and husband had been seriously injured when a canopy detached from a boat being towed ahead of his family car, and slammed into their windscreen as the family drove together on Friday, January 11.

It was a freak accident, and he was rushed to Royal Perth Hospital.

In the following days, his wife, renowned author and Mamamia contributor Kelly Exeter, and their children, Jaden and Mia, said their goodbyes.

On the night of January 12, Kelly slept hand in hand with her husband, treasuring their last moments together.

On Saturday, Kelly posted a tribute to her late husband on Instagram, and thanked her family and friends for their unwavering support over the past couple of weeks.

“How can a heart that is so broken feel so full?” she wrote. “That’s the situation I find myself in today.”


In the comments, Kelly shared Ant’s six rules for life, which she had spoken about in his eulogy.

They’re a much needed reminder that life can change in an instant, so we should treasure those around us and make the most of the time we have.

Here are Anthony’s six rules for life, in the words of Kelly Exeter:

Rule 1: Love life, but don’t take it too seriously.

This one illustrates just how much Ant was a walking contradiction – as we all are. Because he took a *lot* of things seriously. Preparing properly for training and games. Being on time for work. Doing the right thing. But life – for all that he loved it, he didn’t take it too seriously. I lost count of the number of times he reminded me that if you got to wake up in the morning, everything from there was a bonus.

Rule 2: Don’t spend time worrying about things you cannot change.

As you all know, if they handed out Olympic Gold medals for worrying, I’d have more silverware than Ian Thorpe. Ant’s approach was *slightly* different. Can you do something about this thing you’re worrying about? Yes? Then go do it. No? Don’t waste energy on it. And he didn’t just say these things, he led by example.


Rule 3: Humour is the appropriate response to practically every situation.

Ant had quite a weird sense of humour. And I’m not sure if he had difficulty reading a room, or he could well read a room but always decided humour was the best way to go anyway. I’ll never forget a time in the office on Hay Street which we shared with a friend, Wade. Parking was always an issue on Hay Street but we had two car bays – one for Wade and one for us.

One day Wade came back to the office, got down into the car park which was an awkward place to get in and out of, found Ant parked in his space and scraped his car getting out to find another place to park. Wade was quite furious by the time he got up to the office to vent his displeasure at Ant. Ant thought the best way to defuse the situation was to ask Wade whether he needed a box of tissues – presumably to dry his tears.

I’m sure most people who’ve crossed his path have witnessed similarly inappropriate attempts by Ant to the lighten the mood.

Rule 4: Treasure your friendships.

This week has demonstrated over and over again how Ant’s friends and my own are the family you get to choose for yourself and the preciousness of that network cannot be understated. In the same way Ant’s love for me was unconditional, so too was his love for his friends. He didn’t care what car you drove, where you lived or how much money you made.

All he cared about was that you were his mate. And if you were his mate, your friendship with him was for life. I mean, this was a guy who could really hold a grudge if he wanted to. I’m still not allowed to shop at Herdsman Grower’s Market because they fired him for querying a payslip 20 odd years ago.


But, despite there being a few occasions over the years where Ant has felt hurt or let down by the actions of a friend, in none of those occasions has he ever held a grudge. His loyalty to his friends was really something to see, and to be on the receiving end of.

Rule 5: Be interested.

Ant could listen to anyone talk about anything so long as they were passionate about it.

I’ll never forget going down to Dunsborough last year. We had walked from our accommodation to the main Dunsborough beach and while there, Ant started talking to a guy who had a metal detector.

An hour later when we all wanted to go back to the accommodation, Ant waved us on saying he’d join us after finishing his talk with metal detector guy. Another 40 minutes later, he still wasn’t back. I thought metal detector guy had knocked him off! But no, when I went back to the beach to search for him, they were still talking. Ant ended talking to him for over two hours.

Rule 6: Be honest with yourself.

Ant was big into personal responsibility. It was something he was constantly drumming into our kids. He hated seeing anyone play the victim or blame other people for their own poor behaviour or poor performance.

He felt honesty with yourself was core to both being a good person and making a meaningful impact on the world.

If you would like to honour Ant’s big life, Kelly asks that you make a donation to the children’s charity, Rafiki Mwema.