My eccentric mother loved Gone with the Wind.
It was her favorite book and movie.
“My life is Gone with the Wind crossed with As the World Turns,” she said dramatically after her divorce from my philandering father. (As the World Turns was a soap opera.)
Shortly thereafter, she began collecting Gone with the Wind memorabilia.
Without a doubt, it got out of hand. Like many collectors, she was probably compensating for something. Eventually there were five cabinets of Gone with the Wind figurines in her small living room. Move too quickly and you would break something.
She gave me a Scarlett doll and a Rhett doll. They are in a box somewhere. What was the mystique of the coy Southern belle/brilliant businesswoman and the dashing blockade runner? What did it say to her?
She identified with Scarlett. I know, because one year I excitedly tracked down a Melanie figurine on the internet for her Christmas gift.
She informed me that she only liked Scarlett.
That was typical of my relationship with my mother.
In my adolescence, we had a falling out after my parents’ divorce. Many years went by when we barely communicated. There were the painful Christmases when we exchanged unwanted gifts by mail. (Christmas has always reminded me of the break-up of my family.) When my husband and I moved to a lovely Midwestern city not too far from my hometown, my mother and I tried very hard to reconcile. She finally realized that I hated shopping (I used to get almost physically sick at the mall), and so we began to go to movies together, as we had in my childhood.
But our relationship was dysfunctional. She was afraid of my sibling, who very oddly accused me of having moved back to the Midwest to get my hands on whatever little money she had. He warned my mother that if she ever visited us, he would cut her off from seeing his family. She was as horrified as we were by his edict, so she cheated by allowing us to visit her.
I remember GWTW as a re-creation of Vanity Fair, only set during the Civil War. Scarlett is an amusing opportunist who slept with men for power, tried to steal the sappy Ashley from the lovely, charitable Mellie, and exploited Rhett, the charming rake who loved her madly. My mother was obviously more like Mellie, a gentle woman who did charitable deeds and helped out her friends.
I do have her copy of the book, and maybe I should reread it.
I won’t go to the movie in a theater, but I am still thrilled by its revival. When I opened the newspaper today and read about the 75th anniversary, I felt that it vindicated my mom.