Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fairy Tales Only in Books?

Patrick Swayze died yesterday. When I read the news online, I gasped. Sure he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer and knew his chances weren't good, but still the announcement of his death was shocking to me. I guess I really believed that he might actually make it, if only because movie star/cowboy/idols so rarely die young or with so much to live for.

As I lay in bed last night I thought about Patrick's wife Lisa. I had watched her along with millions of other television viewers as she stood by his side through his years of fame, danced with him at events on tv, talked to Barbara Walters or snapped in pictures as they rode their horses at their ranch. I also knew from Barbara Walters last interview with the couple that Lisa had met Patrick when she was only 15 years old, in his mother's dance class and they had been together ever since. Married young, always together. No children. Truly devoted to one another. As if all they needed was each other and the horses they raised. Sigh...

"Kinda like a fairy tale" was what I was thinking last night. A near perfect fairy tale that sadly didn't have a happy ending. Or did it? Can true love truly exist? Or is love reserved for the movie style endings that Patrick was most famous for...happy like in Dirty Dancing or tragic like in Ghost.

I guess I would say I'm a realist not a romantic. I believe in a love you can't forget but I've never been a believer in the one love forever fairy tale love. I'm more from the right-person-right-time school. Sure some of my favorite books are romances, I love the dream of someone perfect for everyone, a love that lasts through time, cupid with an arrow of destiny. But I just haven't seen it, or at least not yet.

I've seen love that comes close. My grandparents had a rare type of love. A deep understanding and faith in each other, a commitment that rarely exists in the shotgun wedding and easy divorces of today. They remain my idol couple. Totally accepting, never losing their sense of themselves, always there for each other. They had what I strive to find.

I've read that the love between Patrick Swayze and his wife was extraordinary. From those who knew them and have spoken publicly like Barbara Walters, co-stars of Patrick's and even family members, what they had was very, very special. Which makes his death very, very sad. Not just because I'm sure he would have continued to make good movies and interesting tv, but because his relationship with his wife was the stuff of legend, not just in Hollywood, but as a model to our throw away society. They truly appeared to bring out the best in each other, which I think is the most elusive part of relationships. They were each others muse, partner and best friend. It seems that they had that fairy tale love.

I don't know what will happen with Patrick Swayze's legacy. Maybe he will be remembered as a modern and masculine actor from Texas who also happened to be able to dance like the movie stars of yesterday and who appealed to men and women. Or maybe he will be remembered as the man who fought and lost his battle with cancer too young...I think it will be a combination of the 2. To me, he was a pinup from my high school years, who I swooned over in Dirty Dancing and cried over in Ghost, who I shared with my son in Point Break and laughed over as a SNL Chippendale. And I will think of his wife and wonder, is it a comfort to have found a fairy tale love for half your life even if you lose it? Or is it easier to watch love stories unfold on the big screen or the pages of a book and hope that maybe... you will be so lucky but also a little glad you haven't found it.

No comments: