Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ode to the Village People

When my now twenty-six year-old Jillian was in elementary school, we read, The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson.
It's one of my fondest mother-daughter memories because Jillian enjoyed the book too. Drawn to the book by what I thought was the same name--Jilly is sometimes spelled Gilly and pronounced with a soft J, Gilly was actually short for Galadriel, an elf made famous by Kate Blanchett in Lord of the Rings. It turned out the protagonist Gilly, had a lot in common with my Jilly. Both were stubborn, stubborn, characters. My obstinate daughter even looked like the character--that same jutting chin, pursed lips, that smug of defiance. They differed too: Gilly was passed from foster home to foster home; my Jillian was loved and cherished.

Feeling under the weather this afternoon, I turned to the Netflix nurse. She had the remedy for my stubborn cold: the movie version of The Great Gilly Hopkins. The beloved foster mom was played by Kathy Bates; the newly-discovered grandmother by Glenn Close; Gilly was played by the actress from another favorite The Book Thief--Sophie Nelisse. Octavia Spencer played the teacher we all wish our children had.

Each character (except Gilly's mother who'd abandoned her) played a part in Gilly's village. Throughout the movie, I cried because of the village people who saved the great Gilly Hopkins.

The book characters, the movie characters: fiction, but those people are also real. I even know a few of them.

When my friend became the step mother to a few little girls, she noticed right away that one of her new children, had trouble with math. Each night, she worked lovingly and patiently with this child until the weakness became a strength.

Another friend drove her new stepson a half hour each way to his school, so he could stay his week with his father.

And yet another friend, took a job at the local elementary school, just so she could nurture children.

I know a grandmother who took in her grandson when his mother was crippled by drug abuse. The great drug-scourge of the twentieth century has created villages of grandparents willing to take over such an important job.

 The Great Gilly Hopkins was manna from heaven--and a reminder, that not every child has a village, and I need to look out for those children.

I'm so excited to tell Jillian our favorite book was made into a movie, I text her with the news...alas...she doesn't remember reading it with me...sigh...