Home National Weather ‘Remembered forever … That’s the way it should be’: A Gen Xer reflects on Olivia Newton John’s death and growing older

‘Remembered forever … That’s the way it should be’: A Gen Xer reflects on Olivia Newton John’s death and growing older

by DrewLUD

Olivia Newton John just died. I feel like I honestly loved her, like the famous lyrics to her song. Soon enough, her sweet, innocent face will be added to the grand montage scattered across the screen when the Oscar’s present “In Memoriam,” a digital obituary showing a snippet of creative achievement.

But what about when the real celebrities in our lives leave this earth — our parents?

As a Gen Xer, I and the majority of my peers are sadly at a stage in our lives where the inevitable is happening — our guardians are dying. And with each one that passes, I feel pangs of dread. I hurt twice: once for their families and their pain and for my own sense of security, which is now slowly being shredded away. When a life is taken, the lives that remain are distorted, there are holes where light shone in.

With the spread of COVID-19, our elders became our most precious and sacred commodity, and we did everything possible to protect them. Unfortunately, this meant for the most part not seeing them even if we really wanted to. Needed to.

One day, I got so nostalgic, that I made a cardboard sign expressing my love (think John Cusack in “Say Anything”), and I held it by my parent’s window. “Hi mom and dad. I miss you!” it read. A woman passing by saw it and smiled at me. “Aww,” she said.

I got to their window and called them to it. They were flummoxed by my presence and shooed me away afraid I might get too close. Not the movie ending I had in mind.

The loss of ONJ Monday quickly filled social media, and I too posted a sigh, a longing for an era gone by. I was instantly brought back to Los Angeles where my cousin, coincidently named Sandy, took me to see “Grease” on the big screen. I can still picture that cartoon in the introduction and the music that I sang for years to follow. To date it was one of my favorite movie experiences.

When a beloved celebrity dies, the memories of your youth go with them.

My mother, my greatest celebrity, passed away a few weeks ago. It was the same week as James Caan. Both are the same age. Both from Sunnyside, Queens. Both changed the world in some small way.

When a parent dies, everything in your life changes.

For me, it felt like a movie itself when there are flashbacks, but this was an explosion of memories. Every single moment of my life flashed in an instant before my eyes. Not the big parties or the posed events but the little moments that encapsulated my life with my mother.

Bringing in the brown paper bags when she’d call my name (as only she can pronounce it) after going grocery shopping, the smooth feel of the silver scale on my feet when measuring my size for new shoes, the endless meals, the smile on her face — even the fights. I never understood when people passed that we ignored the real parts of them and only showed the good. These disagreements are part of life and growth and what brings us closer together. I say if you didn’t mince words, you were not being real.

Gen Xers can have ex-boyfriends, ex-lovers, ex besties. We can lose jobs, friends and our meniscus, but we never completely lose a parent. They never become something that is no longer there. They brought us into this world, and they remain in some form in our memory forever.

Social media will continue to blow up with the losses of celebrities — and people will comment and mourn the absence of people they probably never knew.

I am saddened that ONJ has left us. But I did not know her, only the characters she portrayed. They brought me endless entertainment and countless renditions of “Summer Nights.” But in a few days, I will move on. My real celebrity, the one that changed many lives as well, will be with me forever.

We’ll always be together.

Elana Rabinowitz (elanarabinowitz.weebly.com) is a teacher and freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York.

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Source: Baltimore Sun