I learned yesterday that Jonathan Crombie died. I didn’t recognize his name at first: my eyes skipped over his name and fixed on his age. He was 48 when he died. My heart hurt for his family when I read that. Death of a loved one isn’t an easy thing to accept at any age but 48 is so young. I hate to sound ego-centric but my next thought was “holy crap. He’s only 12 years older than me” and a sense of my own mortality swept over me. Then, I realized Jonathan Crombie was the actor who portrayed Gilbert Blythe in the “Anne of Green Gables” movies and my heart broke. Jonathan Crombie has been a fixture in my life since childhood.
The “Anne of Green Gables” movies were, and still are, among my favorites. They were, and still are, among my favorite books. Anne’s world was one to get lost in and then find myself. When I read L.M. Montgomery’s words, I was Anne: red-headed, awkward, too easily lost in a world of my own making. I too longed for raven black hair. I wanted a friend like Diana. I loved Gilbert Blythe. Oh sure, I hated him alongside Anne for making fun of her, but I regretted Anne’s choice not to be friends when he asked her, my heart broke when he told her he was engaged to be married, and I knew love triumphed over all when they finally joined their lives together.
I don’t remember if I saw the movie first or read the books. I was six when the first movie aired and may have been reading Anne of Green Gables at that time. All I know is that I still read them thirty years later and it’s Megan Follows I picture as Anne, Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla, and Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe. I’ve never outgrown the movies. I never miss an airing on PBS and have tracked them down at the library whenever I’ve wished to re-visit that world.
I am well aware my sense of loss is nothing compared to that of Mr. Crombie’s family. I only wish to tell them that he has been an important part of so many lives. We mourn with you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this devastating time.