My Week With Willow

We had the house to ourselves for a spell last evening. It was after track practice. The homework was complete and it was one of the two weeknights per week that didn’t involve soccer. We had an unusually early dinner because Camille had volleyball practice. Dad was, of course, in his man cave working his 24-7 Internet business. So, it was just Willow and me.

“Want to watch the Marilyn Monroe movie with me?” I asked.

To my delight, she agreed. I admit I was a little surprised. Throughout the week it was apparent that I wasn’t my daughter’s favorite person with whom to spend time. Nearly everything out of my mouth—be it compliment, directive, warning, comment or opinion—had been met with either a sigh, an eye-roll, a barbed comeback or all three.

Have I mentioned before how much I detest this teenage stage of motherhood?

From the film My Week With Marilyn

Anyway, there are lovely moments as well. And watching the film, My Week With Marilyn (starring Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh and Eddie Redmayne), was a nice 90 minutes. Earlier in the week she had asked me why the world continues to be fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. I explained how she was once the world’s biggest star and how she’s an icon for a glamorous Hollywood era—a day gone by. And she, like other American icons who died before the world was finished with them, remains a fascination or a mystery of what could have been.

I also told her that Marilyn Monroe inspired me to become a writer. Yes, it’s true.

Marilyn Monroe
It happened when I was in third grade. It was a night not unlike the one Willow and I had last night, when my mother invited me to watch the Marilyn Monroe classic, Some Like it Hot.  It was 1968, some six years after her death. Young as I was, I knew Marilyn was a huge star, but her ‘American idol’ status was in its earliest phase. Anyway, I so loved the movie (and the very fact that my mother allowed me to stay up and watch it with her) that it prompted me to write a ten-page synopsis of the story. I have no idea how many words that was—as evidenced by the five-year diary I began shortly thereafter and recently dug out of my archives—my handwriting was quite fat at the time. And I can’t imagine the spelling and grammar were all that great. How I wish I’d saved that little piece of my writing history.

Willow Cozzens

My mother was impressed by the content and storytelling, however, and suggested I give it to my teacher. Her name was Mrs. Meyers and she was the first lay teacher (non-nun) I’d had at my Catholic elementary school. Apparently Mrs. Meyers was impressed too. She asked me to read the paper in front of the classroom. I did. And when I finished reading, my classmates burst into applause.

I knew from that point forward what I was going to be when I grew up. No, not an actress like Marilyn Monroe.  But, of course, I was going to be a writer.

Willow liked that story.
And she liked the movie, My Week With Marilyn. I recall that a line uttered by Michelle Williams/Marilyn in one scene when she was looking at a family of dolls in an exquisite dollhouse in Windsor Castle particularly struck my daughter.

“All little girls should be told how pretty they are,” says Marilyn. “They should grow up knowing how much their mother loves them.”

“Awwwww,” she cooed. And then Willow reached over and touched my arm, and kept it there for the remainder of the film.

What a nice way to end the week.

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