Gone but not forgotten

Aunt Rita in younger days

Aunt Rita in younger days

Here I sit in my easy chair, feet propped up, coffee at hand, waiting for daybreak to see if the icy rain will switch to cold winter rain so I can drive to the gym.  Failing that, I will ride my indoor bike for as long as I can.

                                                                —000—

I hadn’t planned a post today, but an obituary for one of the actors in the film, Gone With the Wind reminded me of my friend Alice and her obsession with the book. No the obit wasn’t for Olivia de Haviland, Leslie Howard, Vivian Leigh or Lawrence Olivier. They died long ago.  The actor in question had played one of Miss Scarlett’s girl friends.  In her nineties, she was from Savannah and lived in a nursing home in South Carolina. Apparently, this film was the high point of her life and career.

I never read the book and have only seen bits of the movie at different times, so I am no big fan of Scarlett and her era, unlike many of my friends over the years.

I have written elsewhere that I held many jobs to help pay for my undergraduate education: 1/ assisting the head librarian in the campus library, 2/ as a TA for one of my sociology professors, and 3/ a part-time job nights at Montgomery Wards.  I did this while caring for three children…I was a single parent.

One afternoon as I shelved returned books in the library, I noticed my coworker Alice spent many hours sitting at the checkout desk reading GWTW from cover to cover. Weeks later, when she finished the enormous book, she gave me a sad look, and said, “I feel like I’ve lost a friend.”

“Have you ever spent so much time with a book you feel lost when it’s finished?” she asked.  I probably looked at her in a sympathetic way, but I barely had time for class assignments, let alone fiction.

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In the years since, my undergraduate days, with the exception of the odd mystery, I’ve read mostly 400+ page books (some over 1,000 pages). I can honestly say few of them have left me feeling bereft.  Unless they are biographies, in most histories individual lives are swept along like dust particles. In a really long biography, you can hardly wait for the protagonist to die. Or, as a weary Mr. Bennett, listening to the tedious recounting of a dance, says of Mr. Bingly who danced the night away with Mary, “Would he had sprained his ankle in the first dance.”

                                                                    —000—

I am back from the gym, where I heard a fat guy in the next lane, referring to my classmates say to the lifeguard, “I bet they won’t have class this morning.” To which the life guard replied, “Oh they will, this is a tough lot.” All of us 65+ gals showed up.

Karen (77 years old) was there early doing her laps. “You’ve signed up for the Cheaspeake Bay Swim (a four-mile swim to the Bay Bridge and back held every spring).” “Yes I have” she said.  She reminds me of Aunt Rita, riding her bike 80 miles on her 80th birthday.  Where do these old gals get their stamina?

16 thoughts on “Gone but not forgotten

  1. Well, for everyone appearing in the film, GWTW was probably the highlight of their lives. It is, after all, considered one of the greatest films of all time. I never read the book. I saw the movie. It was good; but it never really “got” to me in the sense you’re talking about. For me, it’s Great Expectations. I think about it almost every day.

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  2. I picked up Gone With the Wind during final exams as an escape from studying. What a dumb thing to do. I couldn’t put it down and nearly failed the final. Seriously dumb thing to do. I did learn my lesson though. I did really enjoy that book though.

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  3. It was what they did – what they had always done – just got on with it no matter what. Similar to you having to get on with it to get through your studies and tend to your children.
    The Golfer has a 90 yr old aunt we visit occasionally who left England as a war bride after WW2 to start her life in Canada. Hard hard life nothing like she’d been used to at home but as she says ‘I just had to knuckle under and get on with it. Hard work never hurt anyone’. She was still riding her push bike at 75 – mines gathering dust in the garage!
    GWTW is one novel I’ve never read – might put it on my to – read list.

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  4. What a lovely photo Dianne. I need to read the book again or at least see the movie. Haven’t done either in I can’t remember when. Hope you are enjoying your weekend. We have just come back from the botanical garden in DC. Gregg’s Dad and his wife are visiting us at the moment and they enjoyed their trip into the city.

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  5. Thank you for the pic of my mom. It made me smile. She’s “96 years young” as she would say, but I wish she had her memories which I think sadly are slowly slipping away. Yes she has always been an inspiration to me and as I struggle to run or exercise I always think of my mom, your Aunt Rita, who taught me to play tennis, bought a bike and started riding when I went to college and she would have been 60 years old. We all have it in us, some just have more “gumption” than others and my mom was one of them. Here’s to “Aunt Rita” and all the others who celebrate every day of life!

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  6. In my adolescence I read GWTW several times. Loved it. But I’m from the south and have a deep love for the south, so maybe that’s why. I do get invested in characters from a good book and feel sad when it ends. It gets harder to find books these days that hold my attention.

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  7. Maybe the stamina comes from coffee??? Or just the desire to get as much out of life as they can.

    I don’t care much for GWTW either. The only character I really like is Rhett. The others seem like caricatures. Maybe it’s just me, though.

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  8. I read Gone with the Wind in high school. One of the assignments was to write a chapter in class and insert it anywhere in the book. Quite a challenge. Lol. I inserted my chapter at the end, what happened after Rhett Butler told Scarlett, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

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