Thanks for the Memories, Doris


When I was in high school, in order to help my professors and fellow students pronounce my name more easily, I developed the mantra- It’s pronounce like A-Rainy-Day. In my junior year, one of my classmates remarked to me that I was just like my grandmother. My grandmother, I asked, for she had never met my grandmother. Yes, said the classmate, you know, Doris Day.

She thought, because I’d repeated A-Rainy Day so many times, that my last name was actually Day, and the natural correlation of my grandmother being the legendary Doris Day seemed to follow her logic.

Of course, I took this misconception as quite the compliment. Firstly, that she would assume I was related to such a phenomenal woman. And secondly, that I manifested attributes for which that great lady was known.

On Monday, Doris Day, at the age of 97, passed away. With her death, comes the end of an era, but the legacy she leaves behind is one we all can admire.

Although Doris Day epitomized the happy-go-lucky attitude, her life was one fraught with disappointments and hardships. In spite of being thrice divorced, once widowed, bereft of her son, financially devastated by her late-husband’s poor investments, and a host of physical ailments throughout her life, Doris Day’s positive spirit was not an act. It was a decision she made to carry on through the difficult times. That is a worthy legacy to leave.

She was branded as the girl next door. The good girl. Pollyanna for adults, if you will. However, while her goody-goody image does have a certain validity, many of the roles she took on in her career dealt with issues that women today still wrestle with such as balancing a career with motherhood. Furthermore, many of the parts she took required a strength of character that was resilient in the face of heartache and disaster.

The gamut of her filmography also demonstrates Doris Days keen ability to take on any number of roles. She was not type cast, dear readers. While she could nail any girl next door casting thrown her way, she was also capable of playing a femme fatale, a terrified wife on the run from her psychotic husband, a successful career woman, a fearsome mother capable of going to any lengths for her child, as well as the customary quirky characters thrown her way in many a musical. But, in each of those roles, she was always strong, resilient, and honorable. Even when she has to face the dishonorable decisions she has made that have hurt other around her, she does, and there’s honor in those roles. Today I’m throwing out a couple of films that span her acting gamut and are particular favorites of mine. For your convenience, I’m breaking them down into two separate posts, one featuring films where Doris leaves us on the edge of our seats, biting our nails, or at the very least, sitting back with our mouths open at the sheer impact of her dramatic skill, and the others where she has us laughing so hard, we’re holding our sides and crying, and, more often than not, singing along with her.

Doris Day taught me a great deal about life. How to stick in there through the hard times. How to be resilient even when I don’t feel like it. How to honor the process and always give my all when tackling something new. But, most importantly, as her personal life attests, how to never forget those in need, the least of these. To always have compassion and nurture a generous spirit. That’s what Doris Day means to me and why I am forever grateful for the life she led and that she was generous enough to share a part of it with me.

What’s your favorite thing about Doris Day?