Journeys of the Heart
By Cappy Hall Rearick
“You may forget the one with whom you have laughed,
but never the one with whom you have wept.”~ Kahlil Gibran
I’m a sentimental fool and I don’t care who knows it. I even cry when The Star Spangled Banner is sung at sports events. Television public service announcements featuring homeless, abused dogs and cats? I have to tie myself down so as not to rush to rescue every one of them at the local shelter. A family is reunited after forty years of separation, and I figure they are deserving of my joyful tears.
Unlike some people I know, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I have sat through the ultimate chick flick more than ten times, and this sob sister cried from beginning all ten times. When Bette Midler, aka C.C. Bloom, sings The Wind Beneath My Wings she may as well be crooning that tune especially to me.
Go ahead and laugh if you must, but there’s nothing wrong with a good cry. For me, it is the best way to cleanse the clutter from my soul.
My empathic penchant for sad movies, especially with heroines who die, started in 1946 when Mama took me with her to see the movie, Sentimental Journey. She was out and out crazy about John Payne, and since her heritage was Irish, she thought of Maureen O’Hara as the sister who managed to make tracks out of the Mississippi Delta and head for Hollywood for fame and fortune.
I was only six-years-old but I clearly remember that day at the movies. Mama started sobbing five minutes into the film and I, being a kid lacking the capacity to understand her tears, cried along with her. She would pull two Kleenex tissues at a time out of her pocketbook, hand one to me and then blow her nose with the other.
Mama adored going to the movies and it didn’t much matter what was showing. She loved good drama, comedies and musicals. Whatever was playing at the Carolina Theater (with the possible exception of anything in the Roy Rogers genre) was a movie she was more than willing to stand in line and pay her twenty-five cents to see. For a lot of years, I went with her.
We saw Pinky, Johnny Belinda, Imitation of Life and Little Women together, tearjerkers, every one. For years after watching Edward G. Robinson in The Woman in the Window, I would wake up screaming, having dreamt of being stabbed to death with a pair of scissors.
But Sentimental Journey was the film that set the bar for Mama and me. For the rest of her life, if that movie were mentioned in conversation, if she heard Peggy Lee’s recorded version of the song, or even saw it performed on television, Mama would look over at me and give me a knowing smile. That long ago day in the theater when I was a child continued to be a shared moment that lingered between us for over forty years.
Once when I was living in California, she sent me a newspaper article someone had written about the movie. It was little more than a blurb, but I still have it tucked away in my memory box, yellow now with age. I remember opening the envelope and lifting out the two-inch square news clipping. I read the heading first: Sentimental Journey, and then I perused the short note she had written to me: “Saw this in the paper today. Thought of you.”
It was some years later that Mama died, and shortly after that, the ultimate chick flick tearjerker Beaches was released. I went to see it one afternoon all by myself figuring anything with Bette Midler in it would be funny and a surefire way to lift my sagging spirits.
Just like Mama did in Sentimental Journey, I started sobbing five minutes into the film because Beaches was pretty much an updated version of Sentimental Journey. John Payne or Maureen O’Hara, long past their prime, did not portray the characters, but the plot was familiar. The heroine died, leaving behind loved ones who would never again look at each other knowingly while remembering a shared experience from their distant past
As for me, the greatest dissimilarity in the film, aside from the actors, was that my mother was no longer sitting next to me handing me one Kleenex after another and whispering, “Blow your nose, Honey.”