“When those you love die, the best you can do is honor their spirit for as long as you live. You make a commitment that you're going to take whatever lesson that person or animal was trying to teach you, and you make it true in your own life... it's a positive way to keep their spirit alive in the world, by keeping it alive in yourself.”—Patrick and Lisa Niemi Swayze, The Time of My Life (2009)
Patrick Swayze would have been 60 years old today, and though he lost his life to pancreatic cancer nearly three years ago, the example of how he lived his life endures. We baby boomers, faced with the inevitable loss of loved ones, can find special meaning in the lesson that the star of Ghost and Dirty Dancing learned after the death of his father in 1982.
For all his fame, as Swayze and his widow Lisa recounted in this memoir, the actor was not without pain and disappointment in his life, including his father’s death, his sister’s suicide, the loss of a baby in the third month of Lisa's pregnancy, and Patrick's mid-career alcoholism. Wanting to live his life in a way that would have made his father proud helped him to get off the mat and re-commit to the eternal verities.
(A prior post of mine, written after his death, can be found here.)