Dear Mom,

I was in third grade when I first saw THE WIZARD OF OZ  movie on television.  I remember being amazed and somewhat frightened by the  Kansas tornado, Dorothy and Toto waking up in a strange world of good witches, bad witches, munchkins, and flying monkeys; a yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City, and three strangers who travel with the girl and become her friends: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.

It was years before I actually read L. Frank Baum’s novel and realized the many differences between his book and the movie version. Supposedly, there were over forty, but the surprising one for me as a reader was the difference in Dorothy’s character in Baum’s book. Dorothy was not the movie’s damsel in distress who needed to be rescued. She was a strong, capable young girl who took charge and rescued the situation, herself, and her friends.  “If we walk far enough,” Dorothy assures the others in the book, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”

The someplace they reach is Oz, but the guard blocks their way, saying, “Nobody gets in to see the wizard. Not nobody.”  That doesn’t stop Dorothy. Even though the Wizard turns out to be “a very good man…just a very bad wizard,” Dorothy doesn’t give up.

There have been countless essays written and theories debated about the characters and symbols in THE WIZARD OF OZ.  For instance, what’s more important to pursue, a brain, a heart, or courage? Or, which is the better lesson to learn, how to follow good or how to fight evil?

And finally, once you leave, can you ever really go home again? That’s the question you answered, Mom, by how you’ve lived your life in a spirit of love and acceptance. You saw leaving home as a natural, necessary journey for your children. Things would change and so would we, but of course we could always come home again; a part of our hearts would always be there, and our family would always welcome us back with open arms.

In the book, Dorothy’s slippers are silver; in the movie they are ruby red, but the message matters more than the color. She clicks them and says the magic phrase again and again.  She had the magic answer within her all along: “There’s no place like home.”



Filed under art, autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, movies, Things to be thankful for

42 responses to “IF WE WALK FAR ENOUGH…

  1. I’ve never actually read the book. I didn’t realize the two Dorothys deviated so much. As parents, it can be difficult to experience our teenagers pulling away from us, but this is exactly what they must do in order to prepare themselves for independent living. Keeping them over-sheltered just prevents them from gaining the skills they need to make it on their own. But finding the right balance between guiding them and letting them find their own way can be difficult.

  2. Finding the right balance sounds so much easier that it actually is, like using a level and just checking to be sure the bubble is in the middle. Especially with teenagers, you’re never sure if they’re one bubble off plumb, or if you are.
    It’s hard to guide AND let them find their own way.

  3. I love all of your posts! They are written from the heart, like a sweet tonic to the soul. Your mother’s goodness shines through you! Z

  4. That movie was on the other night so still fresh in my mind. We watched it every year when my kids were young. I had to hold my son on my lap as he was so scared. lol Not funny at the time. So many Hollywood movies do change. I like to read so will put this on the list. I usually enjoy a book better than a movie.

  5. I prefer to read than watch a movie. I get to be in charge of the set, colours and everything else that matters. I haven’t watched the movie or read the book but it sounds as a good read.
    Marylin, your posts are a conversation, always fun to participate in 🙂

  6. Odd, isn’t it? That characters take on a life of their own when they go from the printed page to the big screen. Much like life. Your mom prepared you well for your departure from home to adulthood, Marilyn.
    “The Wizard of Oz” holds a special place in my heart. My youngest, who was too terrified to watch the movie when she saw the witch, later played Dorothy when she was in 5th or 6th grade. We know many of the lines by heart … and it’s one of our favorite movies.

  7. juliabarrett

    One of my very favorite movies, one of my favorite fantasy series as a child. You’ve both captured the themes and applied them. Beautifully.

  8. Thanks, Marylin. Makes me want to read the book!

    • As a writer, you’ll smile at this, Nancy. Remember the plot of WIZARD OF OZ? Well, Baum wrote many other books in the series, but OZMA OF OZ has a very similar plot. While traveling to Australia, Dorothy is swept overboard with her hen, Billena. They land in EV, but with Princess Ozma’s help, Dorothy is finally able to return to Oz.

  9. Hi Marylin,
    Yes, there’s no place like home.
    I love reading about the memories you have of your mom! 🙂

    • Thanks, Tracy. Even though the house I grew up in and loved is now owned by another family and my mother is in an apartment with full-time care, I’ve learned that home is where the people you love are, and that’s what counts.

  10. Being a Kansas kid, the Wizard of Oz is just part of me, how I think. It was one of my first books, before I could read. My mom read it to me at naptime, two chapters a day. Then later we watched the movie together late at night on a 1950’s television with crackers and milk. I love the story…so enjoyed your blog today.

    • As a Kansas kid, I agree totally, Claudia. Have you ever been to Dorothy’s House in Liberal, KS, or the Oz Museum in Wamego, KS? Even though the movie of WIZARD OF OZ was made in Hollywood, Kansas still holds tight to the ideas of the story.

  11. ProudMumbles

    I always think of the Wizard of Oz as the scariest movie I have ever seen. it was the flying monkeys that did it. 🙂 And the first time i saw it was about thirty years ago.

    Just this week my step-daughter was in the adapted ‘The Wizz’ version in her school production and when the flying monkeys came out i felt the fear again! Which was funny. I’ve never read the book but I might put it on my todo list – it may be an interesting one.

    • Isn’t it funny how we never forget the triggers of the fears we had as children! The flying monkeys had that effect on so many of us. Thanks for following the blog, and I look forward to reading more of yours, too.

  12. We watched the movie and sang all the songs, when we were kids. Loved it. I also read the book, but I don’t remember the silver shoes. I may have to read it again. What do you think about the Oz movie that’s coming out?

  13. Molly

    Although I don’t remember ever being afraid of the Wizard of Oz….I always remember thinking that somehow Grandma and Grandpa’s house was even more magical – because it was the pathway to Oz (being that it was in Kansas).

    Even though I was born in Colorado, I have always related better to being a “Kansan”….kind of like Grandma having actually been born in Missouri…but obviously relating to Kansas better. AND then there are the babies….kind of like you, born in Kansas but probably relating better to Colorado!

    We are such a family of “following our Grandma’s traditions”!

    Love you, and the ways that you write these stories for all to enjoy!

    • I love your perspectives on all these stories, Molly.
      What you saw as magical was just the normal house and Kansas town where I grew up, and each time we travel to Ft. Scott together with the kids, I love the memories you share with them. I can’t believe that the day after Thanksgiving you, Grace and Gannon and I spent 13 hours driving to and from Fort Scott, and 8 of those hours were on the road. But the 4+ hours we spent with Grandma–decorating her Christmas tree and her apartment, taking her on a walk to feed the ducks, and watching the hugging, loving bond form between her and Gannon–those are the memories we’ll always have. Love you, too, sweetie.

  14. Another heart tugging, beautifully crafted letter. I enjoyed it 🙂

  15. I’ve never read the book but now I might since you’re saying Dorothy is more assertive in the book (she drives me nuts in the movie). My kids are still too young to watch the movie and I’m afraid it would give them nightmares. Some parts are a little freakish in my opinion.

    As for setting your kids free, it’s quite a challenge, isn’t it? I was raised in France in a much more independent fashion that what American parents do here, and I can tell you there’s NO way I’ll raise my sons that way! Yes, it was great to be able to go places on my own when I was quite young but boy, did I run into potential danger many times. Lots of weirdos out there lurking on young preys (I’ve seen them with my own eyes many, many times) and teenagers tend to make a lot of bad decisions because of poor judgement. Kids need their parents’ guidance until they can prove they’re street smart. I don’t want my kids to be afraid of the world out there but I want them to show me they can make sound decisions if they want to go explore.

    • Oh, I agree. I’m even more protective now with my grandchildren, and I was very protective and careful with my daughter.
      But they do grow up, and eventually we have to hold our breaths, release the grip on their hands, and let them make their own decisions and chart their own courses. But I’ll let you in on a secret: no matter how old your child is, you’ll still be the mom, loving and trying to protect and take care of your kid!

  16. Thanks for the great post.What cool cut outs. Loved your thoughts on a trip to Oz and back, Being there, looking all around, taking in the scope of it, thrills me every time I see the film. The musical score is priceless, and roles are played to perfection. I celebrate the story’s magic with characters of Oz on my Christmas tree, several sets by varied artists, each who visualize the characters in their own style. Someone “took” Dorothy a few years ago, so it seems she is on another adventure. That’s her nature through mishap or design. Your mom taught that you can always go home again and showed you the love to carry in your heart when you are away. I agree, “There’s no place like home.”

  17. Or…are those called “Pop Ups?” Very cool! Oh, and sorry about the typos!

  18. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    I loved this quote: “If we walk far enough,” Dorothy assures the others in the book, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”
    I didn’t mention this on my blog, but my dear friend Marty, the subject of the post about our autumn stroll, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I also moved my cousin Dave from California to my house to care for him until he passed away.
    I look forward to reading more of your lovely insights..

  19. Your letters are so beautiful yet difficult to read. Difficult as they are so foreign to my own experiences. Thanks for liking several of the posts on one of my blogs. Perhaps one day you will visit my other blog and find something you like. Yet, I must warn you that any mention of a mother will be quite different from your experience.

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