What we leave behind

What ya lookin at?

What ya lookin at?

“She died loving no one and with no one loving her.”

That is harsh. It reads like a scene from a desolate planet.  A foreign, lost world, filled with an unrelenting, unforgiving cold.   The first time I saw it, it was a vile, sucker-punch in the gut. Eleven words, painting a portrait of extreme sadness, that left me empty.  And in the mood for wine.

This disturbing comment was made by the grandchildren of a lady who lived to be 96. NINETY-SIX! How is that even possible?  How is this the only thing they have to say about someone who has lived for 96 years! She was obviously married to Satan.

Actually she wasn’t. The granny in question is none other than PL Travers. Who was a writer.  (And didn’t understand the skill required when taking a good selfie.)

Does the name sound familiar? Don’t you get a chim-chim-aree-ish vibe, maybe?

Well, I supercalifragilisticespialidociously hope so.  As this old granny, who were scoffed by her douchebag grandchildren, was the creator of the stern, but kind nanny in black, who travelled by umbrella and sang/danced like it’s nobody’s business.

Aka Mary Poppins.

What intrigues me, is how someone with the personality of the longest night in Winter, can conjure such a delightful character. How does a heartless bitch (‘cause let’s face it people, that’s what she was) breathe life into something that is both heart-warming and endearing?

It’s blatantly obvious that there had to be a few gears running amok in her mind.  She was a writer after all.   But more proof of gears needing oil was evident in her fondness for all things zenlike and astrology and mythology and quite possibly a few other ologies as well.

It seems the gears that really required repair were the ones that make normal people nice.  The gears preventing us from being condescending, rude and NOT a pain in the ass.   She was all of these things and then some. And she was a gifted writer.  A seemingly temperamental, but gifted writer.

A writer has a unique ability to disappear. They’re able to hide from daily life and craft an escape route to a magical place.  In her case, a place where nannies fly and chimney sweeps are the leading men.  But she understood the power of invisibility. And without a cloak she wandered through her creation leaving behind her façade of bitchiness or anger or frustration or sadness or loss.  It was her place of honesty.

Authors, writers, lyricists, scripters, playwrights, poets and other bull shitters, imagine a landscape and play amongst the mountains of words, oceans of sentences, the endless fields of paragraphs and punctuation.  We hide between characters and plot.  It’s our place filled with a million typed letters, a thousand white pages and a hundred cups of caffeine.

Let’s not feel sorry for PL Travers and her obnoxious, ill-mannered dicks of grandchildren.  How she lived her life is not important, because that’s not the thing she left behind.  We might never know the truth about this old lady, but her tales will never be forgotten.  Her wondrous, inspiring creation, a character that’s left a billion smiles on a billion faces, across the globe.

In the end it doesn’t matter if she was a bitch, because she was a writing bitch. (And they’re the best kind.)  We are fortunate that she allowed us to see the people she met in those journeys to her magical land, because it’s their introductions that stay with us. Forever.

Don’t you just wanna fly a kite?



15 thoughts on “What we leave behind

  1. Mary Poppins, to me, was always just a fun Disney movie and I never gave much thought to PL Travers either until I saw the movie “Saving Mr Banks”. Talk about putting a whole new perspective on things. I will never look at Mary Poppins the same way again. I don’t think Travers’ grandchildren are ill-mannered dicks either. She was a difficult person to get close to and they were just telling it like it is… perhaps taking a page out of their grandmother’s book.


    • I tend to agree, that the lady was less than pleasant, but I still think it’s wrong to have such a public negative opinion about a family member.

      Is that really the only thing they could come up with, after 96 years on earth?

      She’s probably haunting their house now, in retaliation.


  2. I thought this movie was BEST movie I’d seen in a long, long time. It isn’t often we get such a different perspective on something we thought we knew, but for sure this movie was exactly that. Who ever even considered the actual creator of Mary Poppins? I like how you started this writing off so dark and ended up so light…..that’s a very accomplished study in contrasts!


  3. So I see I am different. The character of Mary Poppins always scared me by its coldness…there was something very impersonal and lacking in warmth about her (in contrast to the very human Maria in the sound of music, or Eliza in my fair lady). In fact the songs were perhaps the only attraction for me to the movie. So, it does not surprise me that the creator was perceived as cold by her family. But I see that I am the only one who felt that way about Mary Poppins.


    • I think you’re the only person who got it. She was adamant that Mary Poppins wasn’t some kind of fairy. She wanted her to portrayed as stern.

      I do think by casting Julie Andrews in the role, some love seeped through.


I won't bite, I promise...

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