Saturday, January 20, 2007

Audrey Hepburn May 4, 1929 - January 20, 1993

14 years ago today, Audrey left us. It's hard to believe, really, especially when you see her nearly every day in some way, shape, or form. It's nearly impossible to get away from her, when you get right down to it. From seeing her unique face stenciled on a sidewalk or mailbox to passing a girl on the street in ballet flats and capri pants, Audrey Hepburn is everywhere.

It's hard to believe that someone who spent her whole life trying to live her life privately and quietly could end up permeating society so thoroughly, but there you have it. Life is funny like that. It's "what happens to you while you're making other plans," as John Lennon once sang. How could this have happened, though? How does one start life as a distinctively average girl in a small European country and end up being one of the most beloved people in history?

By not trying, of course. We'll never know how much was in her nature and how much was brought about by her difficult childhood, but Audrey saw things differently than most. She had been through more in a few short years than most would go through in ten lifetimes, and she was wise enough to see how sacred life was, and that we should be grateful to wake every morning. Her life was spent in the pursuit of simple happiness, the kind that can actually be achieved: surrounding yourself with the people you love. Material possessions meant nothing, and can be taken away at any time. While she was always dressed in the very best, the clothes were but a physical armor against the harshness of the world. She had learned that what really mattered was loving and being loved, and she shared this wherever she went. She had the world at her feet and an enviable career that most people strive vainly for, and walked away from it all in a second because it didn't mean as much as being there for her children and her family. And while we don't have quite so many films to enjoy her in now, I'm sure her children are grateful they actually had a mother growing up, and she passed on at peace, knowing that she had done the best she could for them.

During her last Christmas with her family, Audrey read her favourite poem, one that is often erroneously credited to her, written by Sam Levenson. Here is the entire poem, since it sums up her life's aspirations so well:
Time-Tested Beauty Tips

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowlege you'll never walk alone . . .

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed and redeemed . . .
Never throw out anybody.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

Beautiful poem, isn't it? And so very Audrey. So while she has been gone for 14 years now, we know that she is still very much alive in many aspects. What we can't forget, though, is the humanitarian side. It's wonderful to remember her beauty, her sense of style, and her lovely films, but to forget the hard work of the last years of her life would be to render her two-dimensional. To live a good life is a great deed, but to make another's life good is an even greater deed. Remember all her hard work for UNICEF, and keep alive that side of the many-faceted Audrey Hepburn. Remember, we all have two hands.

I'll leave you with a video clip. This is Audrey's last ever film role in Always as, appropriately, an angel. What a perfect memory to leave for us.


Anonymous said...

Truely an incredible lady, and what a star. God kissed her, and there she was.

Pandam said...

What a wonderful Audrey!