The Jimmy Stewart Effect


I’ve had some very significant people in my life, die on me. Starting with my childhood housekeeper/second mom Lillian West, a spirited, take no-shit, nurturing, old school Southern class act and my outrageous father, quite the legendary east coast literary character and yet real Brooklyn boytshik underneath it all and of course my best friend and larger than life, pretty famous, big love, Jersey Italian.

Deep love, deeper loss.

Their deaths and flat out losing them has taught me to know that each day could be my last. Simple. The day after someone you adore dies, is horrible because it’s just another day, only they aren’t here and will never be again. So, I think about what a last day could or should be. So fun, deeply caring, a big freakin’ blow-out feast, or maybe just a nice cuddle in front of N.C.I.S. with Mr. Bear, the main pets and Nutter Butter cookies.

That doesn’t mean that every single day I think about it, but yes, I frequently do. And even bigger than that, I think about my own funeral and what people will say about me. And that alone, makes me a better person. Sometimes I think about my memorial service and I am provoked to rally and do something I don’t want to do just to be nice. Other times, more often, I catch myself doing something very loving for someone else and I think, they’ll say a beautiful thing about me at my funeral – as if I’ll be there to hear it. Egotistical? Maybe so, but non the less, effective.

I’ve taken to calling this fantasy scenario, the Jimmy Stewart effect, because of It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s my way of being able to step outside my life and take a look at me, finding a way to be better, kinder, give more and also have a moment of gratitude connected to knowing that others appreciate me — even if it is all in my own wacky mind. It’s actually not morbid but a rather an old fashioned, yet grand, cinematic reminder that being a good person is what counts most. jimmy st

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