Just like Mom

My eyes welled with tears behind my 3D glasses.
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard,” Dorothy Gale said at the end of “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).
I sat in the theater trying to collect myself during this unexpected emotional moment back in October when “Wizard of Oz” was re-released in 3D.
And then it dawned on me: I’m turning into my mother… and I’m fine with that.
For years I’d look over at Mom while we are watching a movie and say, “Mom. Why are you crying?”
Judy Garland singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in “Wizard of Oz.”
Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in “Meet Me In St. Louis.” And then again at the end of the movie when she excitedly says, “Right here, in our hometown” about the World’s Fair.

Now I get it. Now Mom and I wipe our eyes together during the train scene of “Since You Went Away.”
I’ve cried during movies for several years–“West Side Story” and “Music for Millions” at age 13 are the earliest times I can think of.
But now in half the movies I watch, I find myself empathizing instead of sympathizing.  As I have grown up, I find I share a deeper emotional connection with my mom through the movies.
At Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, I left “East of Eden” sobbing.
James Dean’s father, Raymond Massey, has a stroke in the film and they aren’t sure if he can make it.
Massey weakly whispers to his son, “Replace the nurse, but don’t get anyone else. You take care of me.”
The scene reminded me of my Mom care-giving for my Grandmama who passed away in January. Grandmama also gave me the movie as a Christmas gift one year.

James Dean talks to movie father Raymond Massey after his stroke in "East of Eden."

James Dean talks to movie father Raymond Massey after his stroke in “East of Eden.”

When I was in elementary and middle school, I would pick on my Mom and sisters for crying during films. Now I join them.
As we get older and experience more of life, not only are we attached to the characters in the films, we can understand and relate more to what the characters in the films are going through. We may chuckle sheepishly with understanding as we reach for tissues.
Now when I see Bonnie Blue fall off her horse and break her neck in “Gone with the Wind,” I don’t think, “Stupid little girl should have listened to her parents.” I think about how the loss of a child can rip apart a family.

Scout with Boo Radley in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Scout with Boo Radley in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

When Scout sweetly says “Hey Boo” in “To Kill a Mockingbird ” as he’s hiding behind the door, I understand the innocence of a child who sees the good in a man feared by the whole town.
When nurse Paulette Goddard says goodbye to Marine Sonny Tufts in “So Proudly We Hail,” she knows that she may not see him again because he may die in battle.
But I’m not turning into Mom just through film watching. I notice I have picked up her traits as I’m cooking, cleaning and worrying about people I care about. Maybe one day I’ll be just like Mom, but right now I’m not sure if I could even scrape a mixing bowl as beautifully as Lisa Pickens.
My parents introduced me to classic film as a toddler. Now, even through our emotions, crying is just another way movies bring us closer together.
Happy Mother’s Day

I asked Mom to make me a list of films that she cries during.
“I think the list would have been shorter if you had asked for a list that I don’t cry during,” she said.
Here is Mom’s list of weepers:

Jennifer Jones says goodbye to Robert Walker as he leaves for World War II in "Since You Went Away."

Jennifer Jones says goodbye to Robert Walker as he leaves for World War II in “Since You Went Away.”

Gone With The Wind
Wizard of Oz
Sound of Music
Stella Dallas
One Foot in Heaven
Meet Me In St. Louis
Since You Went Away
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Best Years Of Our Lives
How Green Was My Valley
To Each His Own
Penny Serenade
Make Way For Tomorrow
Little Women ( from 1933 and 1949 )
White Christmas
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Mrs. Miniver
The Pride of the Yankees
West Side Story
So Proudly We Hail
Three Came Home
The Homecoming
The Glenn Miller Story
Born Free
Ben Hur
ET
True Grit ( with John Wayne )
Old Yeller
Parent Trap (with Hayley Mills )
Pollyanna
Little Princess ( with Shirley Temple )
Brave
Toy Story 3
Muppets Take Manhattan
Driving Miss Daisy
Field Of Dreams
Lassie Come Home
Homeward Bound
Cinderella
Little Mermaid
Harry and the Hendersons
Forrest Gump
Cheaper By The Dozen ( with Clifton Webb )
The Bishop’s Wife
It’s a Wonderful Life

With Mom, Dad and my two sisters at my sister Andrea's wedding in February 2014.

With Mom, Dad and my two sisters at my sister Andrea’s wedding in February 2014.

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7 thoughts on “Just like Mom

  1. I agree with your mom…which movies do I NOT cry at? Mrs. Miniver is always the first that comes to mind. Last weekend our theater showed Ben Hur…I held it together until the very end! Beautiful tribute, Jessica!

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  2. Yes–this is so true. Being a parent makes you way more sensitive too. You understand what you go through to have and take care of that child, so everything has a different meaning. West Side Story is a big crying movie for me as well. I sob as if I’ve never seen it every single time. This was a really nice post!

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  3. I’ve cried in most of those films myself – definitely more so since I had a baby last year. KC is right, that made a big difference in how emotional I am. Although several of these I cried in before that. Sometimes I cry now just because something is really well-made! I don’t get it myself.

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  4. I never cried at movies (& commercials & TV shows & songs & books) until I was pregnant. Suddenly, this cool, composed girl was sobbing over a commercial! Blew my mind, but I’m a lot like my big sister. Our movie cry list has a lot in common. And don’t forget the Hallmark commercials. They get me every time!
    Aunt Barbara

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