On a dreary Saturday morning, we were channel surfing and came across a familiar face from years ago â Steve Irwin. Smiles broke out and we settled in to revisit Steve and his adventures.
Those of us over the age of 25 remember Australiaâs favorite celebrity, the Crocodile Hunter. With his boundless energy and over-the-top enthusiasm toward crocodiles, snakes and reptiles, Irwin was a huge favorite, not only in our house but around the world.
More than just seeing if Steve was going to get bitten by a crocodile or a snake, Steve was constantly talking.
He introduced dozens of Australian terms to American audiences, including the famous âby Crikeyâ and his love of his home was evident in every show.
Our boys loved watching him lay down on the backs of crocodiles, jump into the water with 12-foot-long crocs and wave venomous snakes around like they were jump ropes.
His constant talking was more than nervous energy â he was educating the audience about the beauty, power and fragility of wildlife on this planet.
His partner was his wife, Terri. I remember watching the show when Irwin introduced her to the crocodile enclosure. He told her to go ahead and jump on the back of a crocodile to calm it down.
âI donât think so, Steve,â she said as she backed away. But those two quickly became a conservation team, and their adventures throughout Australia were riveting.
When Steve was stung by a stingray in 2006 and died, the entire world mourned. No one could believe that someone whoâd faced as many dangers as Steve had couldâve died in the first recorded death by a stingray.
Even though the whole world grieved with the Irwins, his family lost a beloved husband, a doting, hands-on father to then 8-year-old Bindi and 3-year-old Robert and their primary business partner in running the Australia Zoo started by Steveâs father.
Those children couldâve cratered or been completely destroyed. They had two major blows â they were in the public spotlight and theyâd suffered a tremendous loss.
Itâs unusual to come across children from any walk of life who have their life together after experiencing the sudden loss of a parent, much less the children of one of the worldâs most beloved personalities.
Nobody wouldâve blamed the Irwin children if theyâd lashed out at the world, left Australia behind or hid in drugs or alcohol.
The world wouldâve understood if theyâd been spoiled brats. After all, they lost one of the most dynamic people the worldâs ever seen, but to them, they lost the center of their universe.
Instead, their mother found the strength to continue Steveâs work of conservation and education. The children grew up around animals, just like their father, and embraced the message he believed in.
Today 16-year-old Robert and 21-year-old Bindi are conservation ambassadors who travel around the world, spreading their fatherâs conviction in protecting wildlife.
Lest we forget Steve, âAnimal Planetâ has compiled hours of footage from Steveâs earlier shows and added thoughts and remembrances from Terri and one of Steveâs best friends.
This new series gives viewers some insight into what was going on behind the camera. The footage and the commentary from those who knew and loved Steve remind the world that âthe Crocodile Hunterâ wasnât just a showman or a daredevil.
Steve lived what he preached â get in there with the world, grab on with both hands and make sure passion is the main ingredient in everything you do. Long after his death, thatâs a legacy worth embracing and passing on.
This column was originally published in The Fort Bend Herald.Â