A lesson in living from my deceased cousin

Two days ago, a cousin of mine died of a heart attack. He was a few years younger than I and only the second cousin of my generation to pass away. My family tends to have a long lifeline.  (My great-grandmother lived to be 98.)

As kids, I remember sharing summer days with him on my aunt’s lawn, eating ice cream and bragging about what we wanted to be when we grew up. He wanted to be an astronaut and a police officer.  I argued that he had to pick one or the other because he couldn’t be both. (I know, opinionated and bossy.)

I, of course, wanted to be a writer. Even at eight years old, I had a one track mind.  I knew I wanted to tell stories. Decades later, I followed my dream.  I am a writer.  Becoming a romance author is following close behind.

But my heart is heavy.

Although our lives took different paths I often thought about my cousin. I wondered if he’d chased the dream, he shared with me so many years ago. I’d wondered if he’d nurtured his passion.

About four years ago, we connected and chatted on the phone. He’d move from New Jersey to Tennessee and wasn’t in the best of health. Much to my dismay,  I learned that he had not fulfilled his dream. That saddened me. I wanted to reach through the phone and smack him. He had so much potential, which had diminished to nothing.

I couldn’t imagine that I wanted my dream more than he did his. Going to the moon was all he talked about.  Perhaps  life  and situations got in his way. Maybe circumstances snatched away his passion, and he was helpless to stop them.

Like many of us, death always makes me take stock in life–to reassess, to recalibrate. It sounds cliché, but life is terribly short. And the older you become, the more compressed it seems to be.

But my goal in life is not to dwell on getting older. It’s to focus on getting things done while I’m here. My goal is to do exactly what the quote in the picture suggests, “go to the grave skidding sideways.”

My cousin’s death again reaffirms my belief about life. I should recognize its potential and act on it.

Although heaven is not where I’d like my cousin to be right now, I’m sure he’s walking on the moon and directing traffic. 🙂

Thursday’s Toss—Live your dream. Enjoy the ride. Skid in sideways.

Advertisements

An Affair to Remember: I Met Joe Black in Australia and he became my Bodyguard

If you haven’t guessed from the blog’s title, I’m a movie nut.

Okay, let me start over. (Remember, confession is good for the soul.) I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic.

Ahh …just breathe. But hold on, there’s more.

This condition has been perfected over the years. When I was a pre-teen, I kept a notebook (five one-subject brown notebooks to be exact) of all the movies I’d ever watched, rated them and noted (with stars, in ink) whether or not I would watch them again.  My records were so meticulous that Siskel and Ebert, now Roeper, would be jealous. Yeah, I know no life. (Hmmm …I wish I knew where my old notebooks were.) 

But later on, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. For most of us, movies—like books—are a means of escape. Movies often deliver messages, influence behavior, spark reflection and literally change lives.  

Now, that’s a powerful medium.

I also find that movies serve as a vital and (wonderful) source of information and research. I recently blogged about my favorite fictional heroes and heroines of the silver screen who influence my writing. However, there are a few movies that also get me in the mood to write romance. They have a way of continuing to make me believe in happily ever after. (I also have to keep a box of tissues nearby.)

I tried to limit my list to the top 27 movies for writing romance and I can’t tell you how difficult that was.  Why 27 movies?  Because everyone always does the top 25, and I wanted to stay below 30. 🙂

So, here’s my list of favorite romantic movies. Each are special and have had an influence on my writing, and in some respects, my life. Perhaps there’s a few here on your list of favorites. If so, tell me about a favorite scene or line or why you could watch it over and over again.

  1. The Way We Were, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand
  2. Somewhere in Time, Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour,
  3. Australia, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman
  4. An Affair to Remember, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr
  5. Bridges of Madison County, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep
  6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton
  7. The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta Jones
  8. Sabrina (remake) Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear
  9. Someone Like You, Hugh Jackman, Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear
  10. Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt, Julia Ormond, Aiden Quinn
  11. Meet Joe Black, Brad Pitt, Claire Forlani
  12. Love Jones, Larenz Tate, Nia Long
  13. The Notebook, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams
  14. The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston
  15. The Wedding Date, Dermot Mulroney, Debra Messing
  16. Romancing the Stone, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner
  17. A Walk in the Clouds, Keanu Reeves,Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
  18. The American President, Michael Douglas, Anette Bening
  19. Message in a Bottle, Kevin Costner, Robin Wright
  20. The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez
  21. Pretty Woman, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts
  22. Sweet Home Alabama, Josh Lucas, Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey
  23. You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan
  24. City of Angels, Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan
  25. Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Dougray Scott, Drew Barrymore
  26. Hitch, Will Smith, Eva Mendes
  27. Out of Africa, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep

Uh oh it’s only the beginning of the week and I feel a movie weekend coming on. Better go stock up on popcorn. 😉