Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm Still Bewitched

There isn't much that I remember from 14 years ago.

My mother died in a flash flood on May 5, 1995, and just about everything else from that year is shrouded in a fog for me. I'm constantly being reminded of things that happened that year, and I find myself asking, "Really?" as if the event in question just happened.

I do vaguely remember O.J. Simpson being acquitted of the murders of his ex–wife and her friend. And I remember Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig's mark for consecutive games played. But most of the events from 1995 — especially the second half of that year — escaped my personal radar.

But I remember hearing the news, on May 18, 1995, of Elizabeth Montgomery's death. She died of colorectal cancer.

Actually, her story is something of a cautionary tale. She ignored the symptoms of her illness while she was finishing the filming of her last made–for–TV movie. By the time she sought medical attention, it was too late.

I guess those two women, Mom and Elizabeth Montgomery, were unique in their significance in my life. A mother is always unique to her child, I suppose, but Montgomery was truly my first love. I was merely a child when she came into our home every week as Samantha on "Bewitched," and perhaps I regarded her as something of a mother figure. But I felt a very definite attraction to her that was quite different from a mother–child relationship.

Montgomery was close to my mother's age. Mom was born in August 1931. Montgomery was born in April 1933. And I always felt there was a physical resemblance that she and my mother shared. So maybe there was a certain amount of transference that was going on in my young psyche.

I don't know. I guess I would need to be a psychiatrist to make that kind of assertion.

Did I feel as if I had lost my mother again when I heard the news 14 years ago today? No. It was more a sense of losing my first love.

I never met Elizabeth Montgomery. But she will always be my first love. And, whenever I see a sitcom episode or a made–for–TV movie with her in it, I remember that 7–year–old boy with the crush on Samantha.

Others — both personal acquaintances and women who were worshiped from afar — took her place over the years. But she was the first and will always occupy a special place in my heart.

Even though she never knew who I was.