Gone too soon! Even though Patrick Swayze died 10 years ago from stage IV pancreatic cancer, his memory still lives on in the hearts of fans, friends and family. “He was the most incredible man,” the Dirty Dancing star’s widow, Lisa Niemi, said in the Paramount Network documentary I Am Patrick Swayze. “He played heroes in his movies, and he showed himself to be a hero in real life.”
Even as a kid, Patrick was the star of his family. “He was everything to my mom,” Don, Patrick’s younger brother, explained about his sibling’s relationship with their mother, Patsy. “When he would leave the room, she would brag, ‘That’s my beautiful older son.'”
The attention was well-received. After Patrick married Lisa in 1975, they duo headed to New York City to begin their life together as a family, but when they tried to have kids, their life started to get a lot more difficult. “I did become pregnant, but I had a miscarriage. It was very heartbreaking,” Lisa shared. Don added, “It crushed him. You could tell he would’ve been a great dad. Just as an uncle, you could see it.”
Patrick soon developed a drinking problem which prompted his longtime wife to move out of their New Mexico ranch for a year in the 2000s. “I told him, ‘I have to leave. I can’t sit here and watch you die,'” Lisa explained, but ultimately it was therapy that saved their marriage.
“Things went from horrible to the best they’d ever been,” she recalled. “We finally gained the wisdom to have what we wanted.”
Lisa stayed by Patrick’s side until his very last days and when he died in September 2009 at age 57, she knew that he could finally be free. “I love you,” she remembers him whispering to her right before he died, and admitted that “there was peace at the end.”
“I still feel him here,” she says. “I feel like he hasn’t left. I can feel every contour of his hand in mine.”
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