Shelly Hickman

Ramblings and Whatnot

When the Past Makes a Sneak Attack


Last weekend I went with my daughter to see Saving Mr. Banks, the story about Walt Disney’s efforts to persuade P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, to allow him to make that wonderful movie.  I had really been looking forward to this film for a few reasons. One, I adore Tom Hanks. Two, I’m a diehard Disney freak. Disneyland is absolutely my favorite place in the world. I’m the only one in my family who never tires of going there, and that includes my kids. And three, I loved the film Mary Poppins.

I read the reviews for this movie and it had received lots of praise from viewers, saying what a touching story it was, how it made them laugh, made them cry. Okay, so I anticipated it was going to get me a little misty at times, but that’s not a major feat when it comes to me and movies… or music… or commercials. Are you getting the picture? But I wasn’t prepared for the strata of nerves this film would pluck within me.

First, there were the obvious heart-tugging memories that Travers had of her father, that I’m sure caused quite a few wet eyes in the theater. Then there were many other elements to this story, in and of themselves, that had nothing to do with me personally, but somehow they wriggled their way into my heart via a different route, and suddenly I was dealing with all sorts of moments from my past that I hadn’t thought about for some time.

I haven’t watched Mary Poppins since my oldest daughter died fourteen years ago. And every scene in Mr. Banks that depicted the creation of those jubilant, catchy, lovely songs in that Disney classic, immediately brought me back to her hospital room, only days before she passed away, when for some reason she had taken to watching Mary Poppins repeatedly.

As I watched Travers reliving the pain of her past with each relinquishment of her beloved Mary, I was reliving the pain of losing my daughter, remembering a night she watched Mary yet again. My father-in-law sat in the room, talking about how she could make him another bird house once she came home, when deep down, we all knew she would be making no more bird houses.

During the premier of Mary Poppins, Travers cried at the end of the film as she released the hurt that she’d held inside her entire life, and I was crying right along with her, for the same and yet different reasons. In that moment, I almost felt like I was her. It was really weird, powerful, and difficult to express. I was hoping to God that my youngest daughter, who was there with me, wouldn’t ask me why my face was a sopping mess. Thankfully, she didn’t.

Isn’t it amazing how music and stories can do that? How the past can sometimes sneak up on you?  I didn’t even consider the effect anything Mary Poppins-related would have on me when I stepped into that theater. I don’t know why I felt the need to write about this. I just had to attempt to describe this totally unexpected reaction to a seemingly harmless event. Maybe you’ve had one like it?   

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to watch Mary Poppins again, but the movie will always hold a very special place in my heart. It brought her joy in her final days, and for that, it will forever be dear to me.

15 responses to “When the Past Makes a Sneak Attack”

  1. What a beautiful post, Shelly! I have to see the movie now and I’ll be sure to bring extra tissues! Thanks so much for sharing these lovely reflections.


    1. Thank you, Patricia! And you should definitely check out the movie prepared with tissue – unlike me. 😉


  2. Martha Reynolds Avatar
    Martha Reynolds

    The film really resonated with me, too, Shelly. Banks and Thompson – perfection.


    1. I agree, Martha.


  3. Beautiful. Such wonderful words Shelly.


    1. Thank you, Silvia!


  4. Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie Avatar
    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie

    Oh my goodness, Shelly! What an incredible experience you had watching this film. I know your oldest daughter was right there with you in the theater. I know she was. And perhaps, the two of you were sharing another Mary moment together – a spoonful of sugar.

    Thank you so very much for sharing this post. I absolutely loved it and was very moved by your experience. My second oldest daughter read the book (and has seen the movie) and treasures it. I think I’ll take her to see Saving Mr. Banks. And when I do, I’ll think of you.


  5. Shelly Hickman Avatar
    Shelly Hickman

    Thank you, Julie! And if your daughter is a Mary Poppins lover, she should most definitely check out Saving Mr. Banks. 🙂 I look forward to checking out the blogs on the hop over the next few days. Thanks for inviting me.


  6. Oh, Shelly. I’m so sorry you had to endure the loss of your daughter. Sounds like the experience of seeing Saving Mr. Banks was a truly beautiful way to connect with her on some level. xx


  7. Oh Shelly, what a touching story. The movie is on my rental list and now when I watch it I’ll be thinking of you and your daughter. ❤


  8. Thank you so much for the kind words, Anna and Jayne. ♥


  9. Samantha Stroh Bailey Avatar
    Samantha Stroh Bailey

    Shelly, I loved this post, and I admire you for being able to put what you’re feeling in such a beautiful, poignant way. The movie is also on my list, and I will think about you and your daughter when I watch it.


  10. Thanks, Sam! ♥


  11. What a beautiful post, Shelly! Thank you for sharing it.

    Saving Mr. Banks was a wonderful movie with a story that surprised me, but in a good way. Sweet, tragic, and beautiful!


    1. Shelly Hickman Avatar
      Shelly Hickman

      Thank you! It kind of surprised me too, Elke. I didn’t really know what to expect from the movie, but it was far more touching than I’d anticipated.


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About Me

Las Vegas native, Computer Science teacher, and writer (when the mood strikes). Author of five novels – mostly romantic comedies – available on Amazon and Audible.


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