In the last week, I have watched Steel Magnolias twice. It’s just one of those movies that doesn’t get old. It had been awhile since I had last seen it, and watching it again I cackled at Ouiser’s sarcastic remarks and sobbed right alongside M’Lynn. That’s the mark of a good movie: one that can make you feel the same way you felt the first time you watched it every single time.
As I watched it last weekend, it got me thinking about the characters and which one was my favorite. Most people would say the comic reliefs like Ouiser or Clairee, but not me. My heart went with M’Lynn from the very beginning. And as I thought about why, I was struck with the resounding thought that M’Lynn’s relationship with Shelby is a mirror of the one I have with my own mother. And what better day to explore that connection than today?
From the opening scene on the morning of Shelby’s wedding I could see pieces of my momma and me shining through the screen. As Shelby nagged M’Lynn all morning about this, that, and the other, and M’Lynn dished it right back out, I could hear the argumentative banter that happens when momma and I disagree. Not that we constantly argue, but there is just something about being around the person who knows everything about you and loves you just the same that makes you comfortable saying how you feel, ya know?
The similarities just kept appearing as the movie rolled on. Now, don’t get me wrong, my mom and I have never been through half the things Shelby and M’Lynn went through, but that’s why I was really hit with the wall of emotions. The thing is, I have no doubt that if things were to play out in our lives the way they did in the movie, well, let’s just say Joy and M’Lynn would have been one and the same.
Not to be especially morbid on a day that is supposed to be celebrating our mother’s and the love we have for them. On the contrary, I am trying to point out just how lucky I am. Here we have a mother so wonderful and so perfect (and completely fictional) that she is depicted on a movie screen, and that is the precise woman who reminds me of my own real-life, living and breathing mother. She is a woman who stands strong when everyone around her is falling apart, who steps in when the world is walking out, a woman who puts all her own needs aside to tend to those who need a hand, whether it’s because life as they know it has just been shattered or just because they need a friend.
My mother, who is capable of crafting pinpoint perfect advice without having to memorize it from a script; who would gladly give me a kidney if I needed it. As a matter of fact, I’m quite certain she would give me anything I needed, anytime, anywhere. When it comes to mothers, my momma breaks the mold. Not many people are as self-less as she is. And when you watch a woman like her put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own over and over again, not just those of her child, but those of her husband, sisters, brother, parents, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, well then I just had to take a moment to tell her that, in my eyes, she is not just the picture of a perfect mother, but a perfect woman as well. I can only hope to grow into a fraction of the woman she is. I feel blessed knowing what a gift she has been in my life, and I feel honored knowing what a wonderful grandmother she will one day be to my children. I honestly couldn’t ask for anyone better, not even a famous actress who portrays the perfect picture of a strong Southern woman.