Tammy Faye, With Pain, Gives A Lesson On Living Life
Like millions of Americans on Wednesday night I was shocked to see Tammy Faye on “Larry King Live”. The several minute segment was a promotion of sorts for the longer taped interview that will be seen on CNN tonight. The toll from her cancer set both James and me back in the sofa. Down to 65 pounds the lady is just skin and bones and looked, needless to say, dreadful. The pain of her ordeal and struggle over the past many months was etched on her face.
I was one of her loud critics when the PTL Club was in the news in the 1980′s with tales of swindling. While I still have problems with televangelists in general, I have formed a deep respect for the way Tammy Faye has conducted herself in the past several years. She righted her own personal life after the downfall of a television empire that also ended Jim Bakker’s role on the big stage. When her cancer news became a public story several years ago I again started watching this lady who is sassy, fragile, bright, and funny, and found her story compelling to follow. James would often lean into the living room and ask why I was watching yet another news segment on Tammy Faye. But like so many others in the nation I was drawn to her ability to live life her way, and not care if others laughed or not. I think we all are a bit jealous that we cannot have that same care-free way of really living life that Tammy Faye possessed.
She liked her makeup applied her way, and if her accessories were a bit gaudy, so be it as it made her happy. She laughed at things others might not, and said things others might have kept to themselves. She was her own person, and lived life her way. And even if some do not like her, they must admit the way she lived was the only way to really do it. Complete and full on one’s own terms.
That is not a bad lesson to give to others. I think she made mistakes in her past and paid the price. I also think she presented to others a life lesson these past years that made up for the parts of her life that are long behind her.
She has shown amazing fortitude and peace with a process that will claim us all. Death is never pretty, and too often it gets hidden because it unnerves us. But by going on “Larry King Live” she proved a few things. First that her faith in God is real and whatever others (including myself) may have thought about her years ago, her foundations are solid. I firmly believe that no one without God could have done an interview on camera in her condition. The emotional toll on top of the physical pain would make it impossible. I just believe that.
The second thing the interview shows is that life is not over even when we are very sick. By putting on her makeup and looking, as best she could, like the old Tammy Faye we all knew, she gave notice to other sick people that any illness does not win until the very last breath. Everything up to that moment is about living. Perhaps with struggle and difficulty, but nonetheless living. Had she not done the interview, or put on her makeup and stayed closeted, the cancer would have won even before the actual end.
Not a bad lesson for us all to learn.
With respect and admiration I wish the best for Tammy Faye. And I suspect most of the nation does too.