I read the reviews for this movie and it had received lots of praise from viewers, saying what a touching story it was, how it made them laugh, made them cry. Okay, so I anticipated it was going to get me a little misty at times, but that’s not a major feat when it comes to me and movies... or music... or commercials. Are you getting the picture? But I wasn’t prepared for the strata of nerves this film would pluck within me.
First, there were the obvious heart-tugging memories that Travers had of her father, that I’m sure caused quite a few wet eyes in the theater. Then there were many other elements to this story, in and of themselves, that had nothing to do with me personally, but somehow they wriggled their way into my heart via a different route, and suddenly I was dealing with all sorts of moments from my past that I hadn’t thought about for some time.
I haven’t watched Mary Poppins since my oldest daughter died fourteen years ago. And every scene in Mr. Banks that depicted the creation of those jubilant, catchy, lovely songs in that Disney classic, immediately brought me back to her hospital room, only days before she passed away, when for some reason she had taken to watching Mary Poppins repeatedly.
As I watched Travers reliving the pain of her past with each relinquishment of her beloved Mary, I was reliving the pain of losing my daughter, remembering a night she watched Mary yet again. My father-in-law sat in the room, talking about how she could make him another bird house once she came home, when deep down, we all knew she would be making no more bird houses.
During the premier of Mary Poppins, Travers cried at the end of the film as she released the hurt that she’d held inside her entire life, and I was crying right along with her, for the same and yet different reasons. In that moment, I almost felt like I was her. It was really weird, powerful, and difficult to express. I was hoping to God that my youngest daughter, who was there with me, wouldn’t ask me why my face was a sopping mess. Thankfully, she didn’t.
Isn’t it amazing how music and stories can do that? How the past can sometimes sneak up on you? I didn't even consider the effect anything Mary Poppins-related would have on me when I stepped into that theater. I don’t know why I felt the need to write about this. I just had to attempt to describe this totally unexpected reaction to a seemingly harmless event. Maybe you’ve had one like it?
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to watch Mary Poppins again, but the movie will always hold a very special place in my heart. It brought her joy in her final days, and for that, it will forever be dear to me.