So Lisa Niemi, Patrick Swayze‘s wife of something like 30+ years, wrote a memoir about her life with Swayze and enduring the effects of his illness and subsequent death. And it’s sad, guys. Really, really sad. Like, “shed some tears in the morning even after you’ve had that fourth cup of coffee” sad. I think it’s one of those things where it’s like, “Yeah, it was sad that Patrick Swayze died, and damn, wasn’t Dirty Dancing so f-cking awesome?”, but it’s really way more than that. I don’t think people realized how fully awesome Patrick was (as was his relationship with Lisa), and how much of a someone amazing was lost when Patrick passed in 2009.
Ugh. Anyway. From Worth Fighting For, Lisa Niemi on first meeting Swayze:
We were so different from each other, and yet so much alike. I was 14 years old when I first laid eyes on him at Houston Music Theatre, when his mother’s dance school merged with my theatre group. Patrick was tanned, buff, had a dazzling smile and a reputation as a Casanova. I wasn’t just a wallflower; I was an expert, practised wallflower. Our first contact came when we passed each other coming in and out of the theatre, and he reached over and pinched me on the bottom. “Hey there, cutie!” he said in a friendly yet mischievous tone. “Oh, brother.” I rolled my eyes as he passed me.
Little did she know she’d spend the next couple of decades at his side. Later in the book, Lisa talked about how Swayze proposed, and how they moved to LA to pursue their shared dream of the performing arts:
We’d been living together in a tiny brownstone apartment in New York City. Then, in the middle of a tickling fight, he paused, his arms around me. “What?” I asked curiously. His face flushed. “Why don’t we do it? Why don’t we get married?” And on June 12, 1975, we did. From being dancers, we went to working in the theatre, from theatre we moved to Los Angeles for film. We were off to the races. We were living and pursuing our dreams.
The book becomes significantly darker, as Niemi shares what it was like for Patrick to be diagnosed, and then later, treated, for pancreatic cancer:
Over New Year 2008, we were visiting friends in Aspen and raised a glass of champagne for a toast. Patrick grimaced a little when he swallowed but didn’t say anything. A week later, he came to me on a Sunday afternoon, “Do my eyes look yellow to you” I peered curiously. “Yes, yes, they do look yellow?.?.?. Let’s get you to the doctor first thing tomorrow.” Patrick had tests and scans; the results came through the same afternoon. And an alarm sounded inside our heads. There was a 2in-by-1½in mass on the head of his pancreas. What? What does this mean? The doctor was hesitant about guessing. But we pushed. “We-e-l-l-l, it could be cancer,” he said.
As we all know, the final diagnosis ended up being cancer, and Swayze lived only a year more after the heartbreaking news, despite his aggressive medical treatment, return to television, and continued ranch work on the couple’s property in New Mexico: