Irwin’s life: A documentary about love, not crocs

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Irwin’s life: A documentary about love, not crocs

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Sheryl P. Kurland

September 8, 2006

While grief over the tragic loss of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin reverberates around the world, the loss of his life hit home. Not because I believe in his conservation causes. (I do.) Not because I agree with his humanitarianism. (I do.) Not because I adore crocodiles. (I do.) It’s the two words I have written in parenthesis — I do — that tell the story. Irwin’s death fell on the cusp of my 17th wedding anniversary. And, as news interviews with those who knew him best reveal, Irwin was, above all, a committed husband to Terri, his only wife and wife of 14 years, and devoted father to his two children.

With our 50 percent divorce rate for first marriages, 67 percent for second marriages and 74 percent for third marriages, their love was a sight seldom seen these days.

Irwin’s life was not about the crocs. His antics with animals were merely a front that allowed us to peer into his heart. And how ironic it is that death befell him by the physical piercing of that extraordinary heart.

As I spend hours watching reruns of his most memorable shows on Animal Planet, I notice that the dynamics between Irwin and his creature friends in the wild pale in comparison to those between him and Terri. The couple shared an unspoken rhythm. Their eyes locked often, they were both filled with verve and gusto, they were both so alive. (Even his 2002 cornball movie Collision Course gushed with romance, though the two never shared a love scene.)

The Irwins lived as husband and wife were meant to be. Working together. Laughing together. Dreaming together. A role-model couple whose dreaming has been cut short. It should have lasted forever.

Fans tuned in for danger, close calls and his trademark beaming grin, but he unabashedly broke stride to take us up close and personal. Footage from their wedding showed a tearful Irwin as he and Terri exchanged “I do’s.” The newlyweds took us on their camping honeymoon to northern Australia. At the birth of their first baby, he wept. At the birth of their second baby, he wept more. (Note the order, marriage first, children second. Another fledgling trend.) Irwin showed how marriage and family life are connected to one’s larger sense of purpose in life.

Their role-model marriage is one in which we should revel. Yet, it is soon to be overshadowed by the erupting global mania over Vanity Fair’s new cover story heralding Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, unmarried, and the first public photographs of their newborn daughter. Consider the facts: This is Tom’s third young damsel to be anointed “the one.” His first, a marriage to “the one” terminated in less than three years. His second, a marriage to “the one” lasted less than 10 years. Any bets in Vegas how long TomKat will last? Will they tie the knot before Katie awakens from his rule and decides to take charge of herself? Their lavish, glamorized, glorified relationship is probably just one more notch in the bedpost of celebrity shams. Time will bear witness.

Indeed, Steve Irwin’s life and legacy remind us that life is not about fame and fortune. He leaves us with lessons about true love and human passion. Crikey, Mate, we’re gonna miss you!

I do.

Sheryl P. Kurland of Longwood is a speaker and author of “Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More” — www.EverlastingMatrimony.com. Copyright (c) 2006, Orlando Sentinel | Get home delivery – up to 50% off

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