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  • Writer's picturelindsayireland

Hopelessly devoted...

I have written one fan letter in my life and it was to Olivia Newton-John.

When I was nine years old, my Aunt Jill took me and my cousin to see Grease in an old theatre in Vermont - the movie real kept jamming and the lights flickered on and off. The disturbances were inconsequential; a love affair began between me and that movie.

I had a crush on John Travolta and worshipped Olivia. There was one poster in my play room and it was of them in the final scene of the movie.

Dad bought the 8-track of the movie soundtrack so we could play it in his car. The music was FUN; it’s still makes me smile.

A couple of years later, when I saw ONJ’s “Dolphin Song” video, I too wanted to frolic with the dolphins. I thought of her when, as an adult, I did.

Twice, I saw her in person. She lived near my aunt and uncle in Malibu. I was ogling the puppies at the local pet sore and might have been going in for a feel when an oh-so-familiar voice gently pointed out a DO NOT TOUCH the puppies sign. I felt like I was in an other-worldly Xanadu sequence; I couldn’t speak.

Years later, when my aunt was having treatments for breast cancer, she took me to see a Woody Allen film. The theatre was almost empty. Except, three rows ahead of us, Olivia and her then husband, were clearly having a date night. I had a hard time watching the film as they canoodled. She and my aunt acknowledged each other as we left the theatre; it appeared to me to be a “cancer kinship” kind of nod.

I never stopped following Olivia. She seemed to have a kindness, humour and grace that is rare. She handled her cancer with courage and humility. I'll remember her for that and all the joy she brought with her music and movies.

I think I chose who to idolize well.

I can now say I have only written two fan letters, and they were both to Olivia Newton-John.

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