The late Robin Williams brought so many memorable characters come to life in the big screen. And although he won an Academy Award for his turn in Good Will Hunting
, for me and most probably a lot of people, the one character that would be forever be etched in our hearts and minds is that of Mrs. Doubtfire
. She is not even a real person in the film, she is a fake housekeeper played by a character played by Robin Williams.
This movie resonated with me, although I wasn't able to watch it when it first came out 21 years ago. I was able to see a it at a pivotal time in my childhood, it taught me an important lesson and made me stronger with a line. How? Let me explain.
It is a tradition for my extended family to gather every Easter at our ancestral home for a Catholic religious tradition that the family has done for over a century. For us kids, it was never about the spirituality, it was a chance for me and my cousins to play and rent out a movie that we would all gather and watch in the evening. So every afternoon we would all troop to the nearest video rental store (This was the 90's kids, no downloads yet) and we would all pick a film we wanted to see.
I don't really remember who picked Mrs. Doubtfire, but it was a great choice. We all laughed at the jokes of course, but it was the ending that really spoke to me, plus the fact that Mrs. Doubtfire
looked exactly like my grandmother.
You see it was a terrible time for me, it was around that time my parent's marriage was in the rocks. It would take a few years before they would formally separate and during that time the arguments took a toll. Despite being unable to really fully grasp the message at the end of the film during that time, I remember being comforted by it.
And it was all too real for me. When the hammer finally fell and my parents went their separate ways, individually and financially they could not take care of a me. I had to go live at our ancestral home with my aunt and uncle and my grandmother. For a child the concept of a family is ingrained as that of a parents with their kids. School did not help , educational institutions would always bombard you with the images of a typical nuclear family. Every time there was some sort of invite, permission slip or document, the school always had a line for parents on top to sign with 'or' legal guardian below. It made you feel different. Not easy especially since I was transitioning from kid to adolescent in a new school where I knew no one.
But at home I was always surrounded by people who cared about me, it wasn't just my Aunt and Uncle. There was my grandmother, my great-aunts and cousins. Who always took time to see that I was okay and I knew they were always worried. It was then that I was able to re-watch the film again, I was older and I finally fully understood what Mrs. Doubtfire
was saying, I cursed myself for being stupid, and I made peace with the situation, I was happier when I realized that.
I no longer felt different and alone. And I never really gave it much thought until five years ago. One of my beloved great aunts went to the hospital for months. When she got back home she was incoherent. But one day as I was picking up fertilizer I stored in her house, I went up to visit her . For the first time in months she was her old self, alert and coherent. She beckoned to me, and I sat besides her bed. She then asked me about my parents. I was sort of shocked, she never talked to me about anything too personal or too close to those trying times. Even so I told her, and I remember her staring at me with pity at one point and told me "Oh dear as if you didn't have any parents growing up" she said.
I only smiled, she after all was one of the people who cared for me. It was at that point that I remembered Mrs. Doubtfire
's last line in the movie.
You know, some parents, when they're angry, they get along much better when they don't live together. They don't fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don't, dear. And if they don't, don't blame yourself. Just because they don't love each other anymore, doesn't mean that they don't love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country - and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months... even years at a time. But if there's love, dear... those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you, poppet, you're going to be all right
And Mrs. Doubtfire
was correct, I was all right. So I told my great-aunt that I was okay and I meant it, and I told her to rest. Seemingly satisfied with the fact that I was okay, she fell asleep as I rose. I remember looking at her and noting how peaceful she was, and that I was so lucky to have family that cared for me, even if it wasn't the typical one.
Thank You Mrs. Doubtfire
, you helped me me realize that. My great-aunt died a couple of days later, " I'am alright" were the last words I ever spoke to her.
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