Monday, March 1, 2010

Book or Audio? The Time of My Life, listen to it.

I'm usually a reader not a listener. Unless I'm taking a road trip I rarely commit to listening to a book on CD. While traveling I've listened to a few excellent audios, all the Harry Potter's (narrator Jim Dale is amazing), the Dan Brown books (great books, great audio, bad movies) and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (libraries, history and vampires, what more can you ask for).

Last year when I read that Patrick Swayze was writing and recording his memoirs I immediately put myself on the waitlist for the audio. I've been a fan of Patrick since I was a teenager after I saw him in the movie Red Dawn. I briefly obsessed about him after he starred in the TV adaption of John Jakes North and South and then wanted to marry him after he wouldn't let anyone put Baby in a corner in Dirty Dancing. Patrick was my ideal man during my teenage years in the 80's. Well Patrick and Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles.

Maybe it was the nostalgia of remembering Patrick from the movies I loved in the 80's, cried over in the 90's (Ghost) and shared with my Kid (Point Break). Or maybe it was just wanting to hear him read in his sexy Texas twang even if he was talking about his fight against stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Whatever it was that made me listen to the audio I'm glad I did (I often found myself sitting in a parking lot or in my garage unable to get out of my car because I didn't want to stop listening). By the time he had written and recorded his memoirs Patrick was in the final weeks of his life. He died in September of last year and his death makes the audio that much more poignant.

The Time of My Life is read by both Patrick Swayze and his wife of over 30 years Lisa Niemi. It begins during Patrick's years as a teenager in 1960's Texas and ends with him and Lisa renewing their wedding vows after his cancer diagnosis. His life story is fascinating (he was a football player, competitive gymnast, carpenter, martial artist, professional dancer, cowboy, musician, singer), inspiring (rehabilitation after repeated sports and dance related injuries, career lows and highs) and tragic (family deaths and his final battle against cancer). But it's Patrick and Lisa's love story that most moved me. Sure it's one thing to listen to the story of a man who lived 50 lifetimes, achieved many things people only dream about and redefined men in the movies (manly and a dancer, sigh...) but it's another thing to listen to him talk about the love of his life, one woman.

There is a lesson in their love story. Patrick was 18 and Lisa 14 when they met and their life together spanned decades of the kind of experiences you only read about or watch in the movies. Fame, money, opportunity, heartbreak,'s all there and it all happened. And through it all they were by each others side until the end. The audio tape allows you to listen to a man tell his own story in his own words. His voice breaks, he laughs, he shares. And in the end I imagined him sitting at his ranch with his wife and his horses and his dogs as he recorded his final role. It's worth a listen.

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