I saw “Saving Mr. Banks” this afternoon with my mother and my son. My mom had seen it this past weekend and wanted to see it again.
After seeing it I am left to wonder why.
The movie is outstanding as are Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P L Travers (real name is Helen Goff).
Still, it is a sad story that recounts P L Travers painful childhood, living with an alcoholic father with a tortured joie de vie, and a mother who attempts suicide.
It is clear as day how she came to write Mary Poppins.
I was 5 years old when Mary Poppins premiered in 1964. I remember seeing it on the big screen at the Adams Theater in Detroit. I remember playing the double set record over and over. I had a Mary Poppins doll very early. My uncle worked for the Horseman Doll Co. and they had purchased the rights. I treasured this doll. I treasured all of my dolls as they became my close friends and comfort.
All this said, to this day I tear up when Mary Poppins sings “Feed the Birds” and Mr. banks sings “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, and always because they made me sad. I knew nothing of P L Travers life until today but could feel her pain in Mary Poppins and every character.
Today, I could also feel my mother’s pain at the loss of my dad just 10 1/2 months ago. He was a complex man with his own psychiatric demons. And I could feel and share her pain thinking about my grandfather who adored us both but struggled with alcoholism for most of my life and my mother’s as an adult.
At one point in the movie Walt Disney says to P L Travers…
“Life is a harsh sentence to hand down to yourself.”
Clearly this touched me enough to write it down. And I now know why. I say all the time that I fight for children because not one of us, not one child, ever asks to be born. Sometimes I wonder if I had been asked…would I have said yes, sign me up, or no, but thank you for asking.
Life in fact can feel like a harsh sentence. Sometimes we do this to ourselves, and other times it is the environment in which we are raised, and our constructs of the world around us are formed.
I will be thinking about this movie for a while. Walt Disney was a complex man with a dream of making children happy. P L Travers was tortured by her childhood and wrote Mary Poppins to repair her memories.
I too have painful memories of my childhood and life at times most definitely feels like a harsh sentence. I endure by fighting for children and a belief deep in my soul that every child deserves at least one unconditionally loving parent and the tools and environment to lead a fulfilling and maximally productive adulthood.
When I am long gone I would like to be remembered as Andrew’s mother, and as someone who always used my voice and pen to fight for what and who I believed in, and never wavering in my commitment or resolve.