My Fair Grandmother

I spent Sunday night with a few friends having a picnic in our lawn seats at an Idina Menzel concert.  She was fabulous and quite funny, especially for being on the sick side (or so she said).

The concert opened with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch.  He is hysterical.  And brilliant.  They indulged the audience in an instrumental medley of music from My Fair Lady, which happens to be one of my favorite musicals.

Growing up, my family would visit my paternal grandparents several times a year.  My grandmother was bedridden for as long as I could remember, so we would always enter their apartment and go straight to the bedroom to say hello.  After rocking me back and forth like a “sack-a-potatoes,” we would all chat for a while before dinner.  Inevitably there would be a movie playing on the TV, an old classic either by video tape, AMC or TCM.  My grandmother lived in the movies.  One particular visit she noticed I was fixed on the TV during My Fair Lady, the movie featuring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.  She bought me the VHS (yes, it was that long ago) as a gift, I forget what the occasion was, and all I could think was, why did she think I wanted this?  Apparently I looked more entranced in the movie than I actually was.

I didn’t sit down and watch the movie in its entirety until many years later when DVDs were the norm.  I had to write a paper and make a speech on the “Person of the Century” for World History class and that person could not be born in the USA.  When my mother suggested Audrey Hepburn, I embarrassingly asked, “What did she ever do?”  Yea, I was clueless.  But I researched her life and work and have ever since admired the woman as one of the world’s greatest souls.  I made it a point to see all of her movies (I have not yet gotten there, sad I know).  So, I sat down and I watched My Fair Lady.

What took me so long?  It was happy-go-lucky old-school musical goodness wrapped in an Audrey Hepburn packaged with somebody else’s voice because she could not sing worth a dime.  Wonderful!  I’d fallen in love.  And then I bought it on DVD because VHS had become all but obsolete.

Whenever I watch the movie or hear the music, I am transported into the classic musical world, the same place where old movies live from the day when movies were meant for simple entertainment.  There I also find memories of my grandmother and the warm and fuzzy grows because not only was she a loving and supportive grandmother, but she was a dreamer, a lover, and a creative.

No offense to Ms. Menzel, but Rent, Wicked, and Next to Normal will never beat out My Fair Lady.  (And my deepest apologies to Julie Andrews who is also amazing and would have great in the part, too!)

So, go watch the movie and sing along.  And then eat some fresh-baked cookies because your grandmother would have wanted you to.


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