Bambi’s Mom

Screenshot of Bambi and Faline from the traile...
Image via Wikipedia

My niece posted on Facebook that for family night, they watched Bambi. She said she cried.

She didn’t say what the children did. The son is twelve and the daughter is only two, so I imagine Mom shed most of the tears.

How Dad fared, I don’t know. I remember that, as a nine-year-old, he wept into a dishtowel at the end of a non-Disney Sleeping Beauty. But that was back when I was in college. He might react differently now.

The mention of Bambi reminded me of the first time I saw it. That was 1988, a year before it was released on video. I was staying in Austin while my mother was in the hospital there. She was scheduled for radiology all afternoon, so I headed out for the movie.

This hospitalization had been unexpected, and it came at the end of two difficult years. Fifteen years before, she had made a remarkable recovery from a near-fatal heart attack, but lately her condition had deteriorated. She was unable to walk unassisted, and she had no energy for even conversation. Over the past months, she had become less and less communicative.

When at a regular appointment I told her cardiologist she had no short-term memory, he called for a phlebotomist, got a blood sugar reading of over 500, and told me to drive her to the hospital. Before we left, he explained that, because of his own failing health, he had dropped his hospital practice. One of his colleagues, Dr. M., would be in charge of her case.

Dr. M. made rounds that evening, handled the immediate problem, drug-induced diabetes, then proceeded to take Mother off all her usual meds and start anew.

I liked the doctor. Mother, however, in her foggy mental state, decided he had done away with her cardiologist. I couldn’t convince her otherwise. She spent the next two weeks being rude to Dr. M. As her mental condition improved, so did her talent for being snippy.

I spent the next two weeks apologizing for her and trying to make him understand that the person lying in that bed being snippy was not my mother.

Under other conditions, I would have thought it was funny. With diagnosis and prognosis uncertain, and Mother oblivious to everything except a doctor she suspected of kidnapping, I was miserable.

So I headed off to a matinee.

It was late August, and hot. The audience comprised a few dozen grandmothers with tots in tow, and me.

I sat near the back. The movie was beautiful, as the old Disney animations always are.

Then we got to the part about the fire. Bambi couldn’t find his mother. He called for her.

And out of the darkness came a little voice: “Where’s his mother?”

Then, from the other side of the room: “He can’t find her.”

One after another, the voices continued.

“Where is she?”

“Where did she go?”

“He wants his mother.”

That’s when I lost it.

I wanted my mother, too.

My story had a happier ending. Under the new regime, Mother improved. She returned home. A month later, she announced she would take over the kitchen again.

Six months later, I finally got her to understand that Dr. M. wasn’t a kidnapper. I also told her she’d been a stinker. We had a good laugh about it.

About Bambi, I don’t laugh. I remember the fawn looking for his mother, and the voices of children, who understood better than anyone else what the movie is about.

Screenshot from Bambi, by Walt Disney (Original Trailer (1942)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

6 thoughts on “Bambi’s Mom

    1. Thank you. I’m glad those guys let you have a minute to yourself. And I’m honored that you spent it with me. I do hope you read the final draft. I clicked Publish before it was ready.


  1. Wonderful writing, Kathy. Bambi was quite a choice for that afternoon. My father came back from the brink in the same way: you think things will never be the same, and then you get to reflect on it with them, and tell them they were convinced the hospital staff were trying to control their thoughts using radio waves… so glad that you had more quality time with your mother. It warms my heart to know she took over the kitchen again.


    1. Thanks, Kate. If I’d planned more carefully, I might have made another choice, but then I’d have missed something important.

      Ah, the radio waves. The most interesting of my mother’s delusions was that one of the nurses was sleeping across the hall with a patient. It was her first time at Seton hospital–her REAL doctor used St. David’s–and she was indignant about the change, so no one on staff was to be trusted. But–as I pointed out when she was again rational–they got her back on her feet and in the kitchen again.


  2. I always enjoy your writing Kathy and alway mean to reply. This time I had too!
    Gene didn’t watch the movie with us, but did come home as it was ending and laughed at me for crying. I wish I knew then about him and the dish towel!
    I was so worried that McKenna would pick up on the sadness when Bambi’s mom is shot, that I had planned to distract her when that part came up. As interested as she was for the first 45 min in all the little woodland animals, she lost interest right before the part I was dreading. Austin was much more interested in watching his baby sisters reactions throughout the movie than he was about the movie it’s self. I did catch him a couple times totally enthralled in the drama, but he shrugged it off.
    Bambi was the first movie I ever saw in a theater; I was 5. I don’t remember anything after his mom dies. In fact I always thought that was the end of the movie! I cried so hard my parents had to remove me from the theater.


    1. Dawn,

      I’m glad McKenna liked the movie and missed the sad part. Guys shrug things off, but you know how that is. I’ll tell you about the dish towel in a private note.

      Your mother-in-law took me to see Pinocchio when I was two. I don’t think we lasted ten minutes. I didn’t know what was going on, so I cried and she took me out, which was exactly what I wanted. I don’t know whether Veazey ever got to see Pinocchio. Well, I guess anyone with grandkids has seen that by now. Come to think of it, I still haven’t seen it.

      Thanks for letting me know the details about family night. Wish I could have seen McKenna watching the bunnies and flowers.


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