Sunday, April 19, 2015

Legacy, Some Thoughts On The Death Of Jonathan Crombie

My wife loves Anne of Green Gables.  And every so often she scours Netflix or Amazon Prime looking for the movie to play for the kids.  She is almost always unsuccessful.  Last night, however, she was able to find a version on you tube (with Spanish subtitles none the less).  She popped a bowl of popcorn, and we all settled down to watch this ageless classic.

We were engrossed.  How could you not fall instantly in love with "Anne spelled with an E".  Her hyperbolic and histrionic nature all the more endearing as the plot grows.  Of course, you can't help but like Gilbert also.  At first painted as a bully in his opening scene with Anne, it becomes clear that his jeering words are a school yard ruse to hide his growing affections.

It was around the half way mark that I sadly saw the breaking news on Facebook, Jonathan Crombie (the actor who plays Gilbert) died of a brain hemorrhage.

All the sudden, for me, the story took on greater significance.  Unlike his family and friends, I will never know what kind of man Jonathan Crombie truly was.  Yet his art, his acting, will leave an indelible mark on those of us who grew up with this timeless story.

Of course, it all makes me contemplate legacy.  My father, who died from the same malady at a similar age, left behind a wife and three young boys.  There are also countless patients, physicians, and students who remember his influence thirty five years later.

We all hope that the best parts of ourselves live on long after we have passed.

Legacy is an especially prickly issue for those of us who yearn to create.  The builders, actors, artists, poets, and writers.  For most of us, the act of creation is a lonely and solitary process.  The birth of our "art" is often a complicated and painful labor of love.  We continue day after day, year after year, not for glory or recognition, but because we have to.

That which we produce, the performance we act or the words we write, are the distilled parts of ourselves that we leave for the world.  Long after we are gone and our families have mourned, maybe there will be a little something left.

A word, a phrase, a small bit of wisdom that will find the wayward stranger and bring knowledge, understanding,

or a comforting salve for unhealed wounds.

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