The news of 48 year old Jonathan Crombie’s recent and sudden death came as a tragic shock to fans of “Anne of Green Gables.” While many fans may not have known much about Jonathan himself, they felt a strong connection to his superb portrayal of Gilbert Blythe in the CBC mini-series adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s novels. Jonathan’s portrayal of Gilbert was executed exactly the way that fans of the novels envisioned him. In fact, he played the role so well that many fans refuse to see any other screen adaptation, myself included. So when the news of Jonathan’s death was announced, it almost felt as though Gilbert himself had died.
Fans saw numerous personable characteristics in Gilbert Blythe. To them, Gilbert was a first crush, a kindred spirit, and a true boy-next-door. In addition to these great qualities, he was also an incredible source of support to Anne as she struggled through her ambitions to become a successful published author. Although Gilbert was her rival throughout a large portion of the story, he was also her greatest fan. He was genuinely supportive of her persistence to make a strong and respected place for herself. His support was embedded with characteristics that every writer desires: honesty, consistency, kindness, and constructiveness. Anne may not have appreciated the last characteristic at times, especially when she was gently criticized by him for her “highfalutin mumbo jumbo,” but she reached her point of success once she followed his well-intentioned advice. It’s not that he didn’t want her to use big words in her story, he just believed that there was more she could achieve with a simpler writing style. Her ideas were enough. As a young(er) girl, this unwavering sense of support was one that I found to be most endearing about Gilbert. I guess deep down I started to become attracted to the life of a writer, struggles and all. The struggles appeared to be worth the rewards of holding that published piece that’s your own and sharing acknowledgements with those who have supported you. Just the way Anne did with Gilbert as he lay on what was thought to be his death bed. On a side note, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch that scene again without shedding a tear or a hundred. Regardless, I will continue to watch the mini-series from time to time because it is one of my favourite stories. For reasons that I continue to discover each time I watch it. And now, each time I write about it.
Aside from this nostalgia that floods from my soul as I write this post, the take home message that I would like to share is the importance of having good support around you while you’re writing. You may hit a brick wall. You may receive bad reviews from the public and even yourself. And that’s okay. Writing is a difficult task not only because of the challenge involved in weaving the right combination of words together. Writing also showcases your vulnerability, an idea that you kept to yourself. But writing can also can showcase your strengths. A kindred spirit on your side who supports you in your writing can help you to to give those ideas the tender loving care that they deserve.
A special thank you to Jonathan Crombie for bringing Gilbert Blythe to life in the lovable story that people all over the world have embraced. May he be at peace knowing that he has inspired so much good.