The Things You Forget...
…the thing that sparks that forgotten memory; or the timing and circumstances in which that recollection returns.
Memory recently swept me back to a very little classroom I once sat in. I was twelve.
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Hanging on a wall, in our home, for at least 15 years now, is a movie poster for the film-noir mystery classic with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier by the name “Rebecca”, based on the book of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier.
Great film; it also happens to be my Christian name.
When I was in the process of having “Rebecca” framed, I had been searching every possible outlet (no Internet, I was hoofin’ it) for a movie poster for the book inspired, 1949 film, with Dick Powell, and Evelyn Keyes as “Mrs. Mike”. No poster existed: All I could find were small replicate lobby cards for the movie.
Again, the name game- Rebecca is married to Mike.
Sometime late last summer, shopping an old thrift store, I’d found a box, only just brought in, filled with very old books, many published as early as 1900. I found among them “Mrs. Mike” by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. Suddenly, reminded of the 1949 movie and my seemingly exhaustive, forgotten search for a poster to hang beside “Rebecca”; of course! the movie was first a book!
As the rhododendrons began to bloom this spring, I plunged into “Mrs. Mike”.
I found something so familiar about the story and a surge of memories came flooding over me. My sixth grade teacher read this book to our class when we returned from lunch! I was completely taken into the Canadian Wilderness! I wanted to be Katharine Mary O’Fallon, marry a big man with blue eyes and dark hair and take off to some rugged country! I wanted to be Mrs. Mike…
…and that’s what I became.
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Like Sgt. Mike Flannigan, the Boss-man is seldom out of humor but instead of Mounty red with navy riding breeches, polished, brown leather top boots, Mike wears Carhartt canvas, dungarees, mud kickers and has no desire to sit a-top any horse. He gave me the blond and blue-eyed babies I knew I wanted and a life ever-changing, braving, desiring, the turn of corners unknown. But it’s not so much the similarities between the Sgt.Mike and the Big Guy, rather what both Katharine Mary and I had to understand of the men we married, their nature and whom they needed as wives, to becoming the great men they were born.
God was guiding, through a novel, a girl, staring out the window through the valley that school year, planting seeds she was unconscious of until she became a wife of many years; concepts that meant nothing to a twelve-year-old but within a few years, articulated by rite of passage into wifery. As Christ is the author and finisher of my faith, so as well, my job as wife. Far from the wife my husband needs me to be- I still get angry, wish my own way, neglect the laundry, and spend money I ought not- the Boss-man, through the Holy Spirit, continues to shape me into the Proverbs 31 spouse.
I am my husband’s wife.
I am Mrs. Mike.
Many a-misguided couple influenced our early years of marriage, but as I savor every line of my long lost novel, I see how God had cultivated deeper, the truth about men and their maids, poor advice had only temporarily distracted. We now watch our own girls begin quietly, instinctively shaping with age-appropriate awareness who they will be as wives and mothers.
* * * * *
I had forgotten, all these years, the reason I knew about “Mrs. Mike” was the book, not a movie or its poster. I had lived the North Country and its adventures, nigh thirty years past, and of being Mrs. Mike: the real motive I pursued that dog-gone movie poster in the first place!