It’s good to remember. It has a way of piecing us back together. Nostalgia can be a healing balm. Jesus, on the night before his death, asked his disciples to remember him. He gave them bread and wine. He compared it to his body that would be breaking for them on the cross – and his blood that would be poured out for so many. It was important to Jesus that we remember, not for his sake, but for ours. Remembering has a way of healing us.
A Time for Nostalgia
I’m on vacation this week. My daughter, Celeste, and I made the journey from Dallas to Fresno, California, stopping at the Grand Canyon on the way (see my blog about that HERE).
So far, I’ve been able to check off some of the things I’ve always wanted to see and do in California – Drive along the coast on Highway 1, Santa Barbara to Malibu to LA; stay the night on the Queen Mary; visit Hollywood Boulevard; drive up the Hollywood Hills to see the famous Hollywood sign (although I couldn’t get very close – I was on the famous Mulholland Drive!); visit Yosemite National Park (All I can say about Yosemite is: Wow! #jawdropping #indescribable #picturesdontdoitjustice #youjusthavetoseeit).
Anyway – one of the things I wanted to do in Hollywood was take a picture with the walk of fame star of Jimmy Stewart. I know. Random, right? Why would I want a picture with Jimmy Stewart’s star?
The Healing Power of Remembering
Well … in a lot of ways this journey has been one of nostalgia. It’s been about remembering, and healing.
My daughter is leaving home to start school in San Antonio. I’m remembering bringing her home from the hospital when she was born.
I was ten years old the last time I was at the Grand Canyon. It was the first and only real family vacation my Dad gave us, and I’m thinking about him (he’s now in heaven).
I was 16 years old when the movie “Foul Play” premiered with Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, and a memorable appearance by Burgess Meredith. It was a funny movie and I loved it. There was a scene at the beginning of the movie where Goldie Hawn is driving down this amazing scenic road (Highway 1) with majestic mountains on one side and the beautiful blue ocean on the other. Barry Manilow is singing “Ready to Take a Chance Again.” Ever since then, I’ve always wanted to make that drive (minus Barry Manilow).
So … as I said … nostalgia. Remembering. Healing.
And Jimmy Stewart fits right in.
Jimmy Stewart: The Actor
My first memory of Jimmy Stewart was in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which immediately became my favorite movie of all time. After that I saw him in films like, Rear Window, Vertigo, The Philadelphia Story, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Shenandoah, The Rare Breed, Broken Arrow, You Can’t Take it with You, and The Spirit of St. Louis. He always brought a wonderful charm, and strength of character to his roles. He exuded a kind of common-man sensibility and warmth. At least, that’s the way I always watched him.
Jimmy Stewart: Real Life
Jimmy Stewart was a winner in real life as well.
He was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition for The Philadelphia Story (1940), and received an Academy Lifetime Achievement award in 1985. In 1999, he was named the third-greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age of Hollywood by the American Film Institute, behind Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant. The American Film Institute has also named five of Stewart’s films to its list of the 100 best American films ever made.
He also had a noted military career and was a World War II and Vietnam War veteran and pilot, who rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve, becoming the highest-ranking actor in military history.
After World War II, at age 41, he married former model Gloria Hatrick McLean. They were married for 45 years until her death from lung cancer in 1994. Jimmy Stewart had adopted her two sons, Michael and Ronald, and then had twin daughters, Judy and Kelly. His son, Ronald was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969, at the age of 24, while serving as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
Jimmy Stewart: The Poet
One of Stewart’s lesser-known talents was his homespun poetry. I have his book of poems. Once, while on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, he read a poem entitled “Beau” that he had written about his dog. I saw it the night it first aired in 1981. It was healing then. It’s healing now. I cry every time I watch it.
If you love animals or if you have ever lost anyone to death, this poem will make you weep. It’s simple, honest, and profound and he reads it the way only Jimmy Stewart can. At the end of the reading, if you look closely, you will see Johnny Carson wiping away tears from his eyes. Here’s the clip (it runs about 4-minutes). This should explain why I chose to take a picture with his star from among all the stars.