Blogs by Leslie P Garcia
9/4/2006 9:30:26 PM
Steve Irwin's death hurts. It shouldn't, but...
Life is funny sometimes. I first mentioned Steve Irwin when he ran afoul of the good sense cops who were outraged by him carrying his infant son into a crocodile's pen during a feeding. (That article, Worlds Apart, can be found at RioRendezvous)
As I mentioned, what my mom and dad allowed my brothers and sisters and me to do as children, such as feeding wild alligators along Florida highways, would undoubtedly have put them in jail by today's standards. Yet some of my best childhood experiences came from dealing with animals, and some of my regrets as a mother come from the relative absence of animals in their lives.
Today, when I heard about Steve's death while filming sting rays, I felt a hurt stronger and more persistent than the hurt I should have. I didn't know the man personally, and only sporadically watched his programs. I'd see him here or there, of course, and see the spoofs that follow closely on fame's heels.
Strangely, I would occasionally wonder about the man and his family. A day or two ago, driving home from the grocery store, I suddenly wondered, for example, if he and Terry were still together--because his life would be demanding on someone who loved him, even if she shared his passion for adventure and animals.
I wondered later why I'd wondered about him at all, and half way convinced myself that it was either because I'm weird, or more probably, and sadly, because I'd seen another dog die trying to cross the street, and my anger had taken me off on some mental review of people who truly cared about living things.
But I wasn't obsessed with Steve, by any means, and so I puzzled most of the day about why his death hurt so much. The world confronts us day to day with almsot incomprehensible tragedies, with the deaths of the better-known, the lesser known--each death has a story, and so many of those stories break hearts.
But utlimately, I think Steve's death hurt on two levels. First--I think he probably was a genuinely good guy. I think he truly loved his family, I think he truly loved what he did. Some of the endless reports imply he loved the fame, but I believe that without a camera around, he would have lived in much the same way. He might not have influenced as many, but he would have touched those around him with the passion he felt for earth's critters.
Then, too, in a more tenuous way, I felt Steve was not unlike my sister, brother, and I when we tried to build a roadside amusement park out of nothing but the red Georgia clay. Steve had knowledge, which we lacked, but he could find happiness on a very basic level when he worked with animals. While teenagers like us should never have had a lion, monkeys and the like, the fascination and the love must have been much the same.
And so what bound me, in a sense, to Steve Irwin, also separated my siblings and I--he never lost that love; ours faded enough that we settled into tamer lifes with dogs and cats, all the exotics gone from our daily existence.
But the admiration--maybe even a bit of envy--were always there for a man who lived as he did, with a family as enamored of the world's creatures as he was.
Maybe Steve Irwin represented the best in being true to one's self.
Awww, Steve. Letting go hurts.
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