aka Ditsy Tanya's Almanac #3
I try not to let it , but sometimes it all plays back inside my head. --Jill Kinmont, The Other Side of the Mountain
I watched it again last night, a movie of such gut-wrenching sadness my chest is still tight today: The Other Side of the Mountain. In my life I've found a few other movies that haunt me, among them Dr. Zhivago, The Way We Were, Jeremiah Johnson but this one is different. Because the events are true and happened to real people.
My hero and I first saw it as newlyweds, the tale of Jill Kinmont--played by a radiant Marilyn Hassett, a perfect 1950's teen with her twinsets and pony tail who is a championship skier bound for the Olympics along with her best friend, A.J. She lives on a storybook ranch in Bishop, California, with an adoring supportive family, is coached by Dave McCoy (the ski legend who would later develop Mammoth Mountain), and is pursued by two hottie hotshot skiers.
Then the unthinkable happens: A.J. contracts the hideous childhood disease, polio, and tells Jill from her iron lung Jill must ski for them both. And so Jill does, until the unthinkable happens again. Fighting for a spot on the U.S. Ski team, she suffers a tragic fall and becomes a quadriplegic. The first hottie ski-boy vanishes when she tells him she'll never walk again, much less ski. But Mad Dog Buek, played by the adorable Beau Bridges at age 30 or so--convinces her of his love and plans a house and life for them.
Then the unthinkable happens: He's killed in a plane crash.
Yes, despite the viewers's tears and aches while watching, you can't help but feel tremendously inspired about human perverance. Not only does Jill survive these tragedies, she leads the charge for disabled people being allowed to pursue teaching certificates and achieve classrooms of their own.
Watching the movie last night, its backdrop of tall, white snow-covered Sierra mountains really hit me, loosing those floodgates of memory and emotion. For today is the day it all started, one year ago. My hero's own journey through the hills and valleys of chemotherapy. That first morning as we left for hospital to start the BEP protocol, the small mountains bordering our county were blanketed with snow.
Just like today, after last night's storm. They look the same. Like Jill, I try to hold it back. But sometimes there's just no way.
Olivia Newton-John sings the theme song, Richard's Window, as the movie ends. By then, even though I know all of this, I was weeping anew. For there's a cowboy in Texas named Richard I've come to know who's got 35 days of chemo under his belt...and many more weeks to go. And I know full well what a tough road lies ahead.
So...no more really needs to be said right now. Other than I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help.