2016 has been a rough year in terms of celebrity losses. Today, we lost another great one, Gene Wilder. I grew up watching his comic genius in movies like Young Frankenstein, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, etc. And, there is his role as Willy Wonka which no one will ever come close to topping. Gene Wilder was 83 years old. For most of us in our 50s and 60s, we were saying “What? Gene Wilder was 83?” We forget we haven’t seen him in a couple of decades and, for some reason, we think people stop aging when they are out of our sight. Nope. He made Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein 42 years ago and he was no baby even then.
We mourn the loss of childhood celebrities and rightfully so. It is a loss for us. Even though I haven’t seen Gene Wilder in over a decade, something about his passing hits home for me. But, while I mourn for us left behind, I am happy for Gene. He is Home. Today, he is free. Hopefully, he’s with Gilda Radner. I don’t know how that works, the marriage thing in Heaven. We’re told we can continue relationships we had on Earth. When Jesus was asked about it, He gave an answer that’s never been satisfying to me. “At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” But I’m just going to trust it all works out.
We have found out that Gene Wilder was dealing with Alzheimer’s the last several years. Having lost one in-law to Alzheimer’s and seeing another’s personality being stolen by dementia, I know how devastating that disease can be on families. From their reports, he wanted to keep his Alzheimer’s quiet so his fans could enjoy the smiles his movies brought right up until the very end without worrying about how might be suffering while they were watching. He went surrounded by family that he still recognized and listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Sounds like cause for a celebration to me.
Thanks for all you did while you were here, Gene Wilder. You continue to bring laughs and smiles to us all. Enjoy your well deserved reward.