Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Celebrating Life: Patrick Swayze

Athlete ... Ballet Dancer ... Broadway Performer ... Actor ... Dancer ... Singer ... Equestrian ... Environmentalist ... Son ... Brother ... Husband ... Uncle ... Mentor ... Friend

The world is full of labels and the above are a few that apply to Patrick Swayze, who would have been 59 on August 18, 2011. The man was a dichotomy, something he once admitted to being himself during a TV interview with Maria Shriver. For me, that was a big part of his charm. He was the tough guy with a tender heart. He was the protector who could cry as well. In truth, you can't label Patrick, except for this one thing: human being.

His death in 2009 is still extremely painful for his family, friends, and fans. He fought so gallantly against his foe, pancreatic cancer. He gave it all he had, until there just wasn't anything left anymore. Then he passed into a place of peace, where the man who had suffered much pain on Earth is surely feeling more blessedness and freedom than ever. He's there, riding his beloved Tammen, with Cody, his faithful canine friend, trailing along his side.

On this birthday, though, it is his life that we should celebrate. He left behind a legacy of strong film roles in a variety of styles. No, they aren't all my favorites, but Patrick's choices were as diverse as anyone's. It supports the dichotomy within him. A roller skating bully, a teenage greaser, a young Marine, a Civil War general, a dirty dancer, a ghost, a surfer thief, a suicidal doctor, a legendary cowboy, a drag queen, a country bumpkin, a pained dancer, a spy, a sex-addicted golfer, a father, a lawyer, a cop ... and the list goes on, including an animated dog singer.

There are so many wonderful performances. He left us so much to remember him by. There should have been more, many more, but I am grateful for my favorites, especially North and South, City of Joy, and One Last Dance, and even those that aren't at the top of my list, because all of them are a piece of Patrick.

Patrick is in our hearts today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that. He will never be forgotten. My hope for his birthday is that all of us take a moment to remember the love and joy that he gave to us. If you can, watch one of his movies, or listen to his music, or read a chapter of his book, or just close your eyes for a few minutes and remember the man, the actor, and the friend.

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

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