Saturday, December 19, 2009
For my dad's Dec. 11th birthday I wanted to get him something other than just a shirt like I always do. He told me recently that he wanted to see some of John Wayne's recent films. I looked up John Wayne and went straight to Wikipedia to see if his films were listed, which by the way John Wayne is just his stage name and his real name is Marion Mitchell Morrison. Lets just say I'm glad he had a stage name. As I was scrolling down I saw info about his death and I was interested in how "The Duke" died. It said he died of stomach cancer June 11th 1979. I kept reading and I saw that John Wayne was buried in Corona Del Mar right next to Fashion Island in Newport. I immediately thought I would take my dad to see John Wayne! I looked up where he was buried in the cemetery and that same day (Sunday) I drove down to make sure I was able to find him. It was like I was following a treasure map. It was really fun! Sure enough I found him and I called my dad and told him to keep the next Sunday open because I was taking him to his birthday surprise. His actual birthday was Friday but since he was going to a party and I had to work that night I chose Sunday to show him his gift. I had to wait a whole week to finally show him. John Wayne's info read that his grave was unmarked for 20 years. John Wayne converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before he died and he wanted his tombstone to read
"Feo, Fuerte y Formal", in Spanish epitaph Wayne described as meaning "ugly, strong and dignified". However his grave is marked with his 1971 Playboy interview.
It was finally Sunday and I was so excited to have my dad meet John Wayne. My dad drove and when we turned on the street of the cemetery he started to smile. He had no idea why we were going to a cemetery so he said uhhh did you buy me a plot? Haha my mom and I started laughing our heads off! I showed him where to park and walked him down to the tombstone. Right before we got there I told him to close his eyes. I pulled him forward told him to look down and open. He could not believe it was John Wayne. He was so happy that he gave me a great big bear hug! My mother asked him if he ever thought about wanting to see his tombstone and my dad said he had thought about it a few times, but that he thought he wouldn't be able to find it since it was unmarked. It made my day to see my dad so happy. The whole week he was telling me, "I hope you didn't spend a whole lot of money", but I kept telling him that besides gas it will cost nothing. I also told him to dress kinda nice before we left cause I was going to take his picture, so he was even more concerned when we were driving into a cemetery. After I showed him his gift we went to brunch in Newport then the swap meet then we came home and I watched a few shows with my parents. It was a great day and I could tell my dad enjoyed his gift. He even said he may just come visit "The Duke" every once and a while.
I'm glad you had a great day dad! Happy 48th Birthday!