I first met and fell in love with Auntie Mame in high school. I was home from school (don't remember why) and happened to turn on A&E. I didn't turn it off for the rest of the day. They were running a movie marathon of "Auntie Mame" starring Rosalind Russell and I was hooked. I must have watched it 3 times that day. My mom by the way thought I was completely crazy but let me do it anyway.
Now this post isn't about the movie or the book. It's about why I loved this character when I first met her and why I still do to this day. It's about the way Auntie Mame connected with a part of me that was craving something I didn't even know I was missing.
This was the mother I always wished I had. I envied little Patrick with a vengeance. Why should he get the perfect (in my view) mother when I didn't get one. I just didn't think it was very fair. Now I didn't give a second thought to the fact that Mame was only getting custody of Patrick because his father (her brother) had just died. Who cared about the reason? I was green with envy.
Mame was the ideal liberal, free thinking woman of her day. She believed in experimental education, couldn't stand snobbery, and was so shockingly outspoken it took your breath away. Even when she lost all her money and lost Patrick to a boarding school all in the same day she rose to the challenge and rebuilt her life anew. She was brazenly resilient and I admired her for it. She never stayed down and never let those around her fall down.
Here was an individual who took control. A woman who wouldn't let someone else dictate to her the way she should live her life. A loving mother who cared for her charge and made sure he grew up to be a man any mother would be proud of. A woman who took in a single, pregnant women in a time when the idea was scandalous.
I could go on and on about parties, fox hunts wearing boots that don't fit, jingle bell bracelets, world travels, and writing books. There was so much to this woman that I still am amazed every time I watch the movie, read the book (Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis), or even watch the musical with Lucille Ball as Mame.
She has been my inspiration in so many things. In the movie she says "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." I believe that's true and I never want to be one of those "suckers". For that is what Auntie Mame Dennis did. She Lived, Lived, Lived.