A couple of nights ago I was watching one of my favorite Broadway musicals on Turner Classic Movies, "Man of La Mancha."
The next day, I was telling Joanne how much I had enjoyed watching "Man of the Mancha" once again. She reminded me of the day, 23 years ago, when I was able to come home from the rehabilitation Hospital, where I had spent the last six months of my life. Our street was lined with friends and family cheering me on, and welcoming me home. Through my tears I could see my good friend, Murl Nelson, playing his drums on my front lawn – he had played the drums for some of the major big bands, including Elvis Presley, during the 50s – with my mother-in-law, Evelyn Stuart, singing at the top of her lungs, "To Dream the Impossible Dream," the most well-known and popular number from " Man of La Mancha." My mother-in-law loved life and loved to sing. She even enjoyed my repertoire of dumb mother-in-law jokes. I was grateful. Joanne had brought this memory back into my mind.
In case you are not familiar with the musical, it was written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Danon. The musical was suggested by the classic novel Don Quixote de La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes.
The main thrust of the play is that Cervantes and his manservant have been imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition and a manuscript by Cervantes is seized by his fellow inmates, who subject him to a mock trial in order to determine whether the manuscript should be returned. Cervantes' defense is in the form of a play, in which Cervantes takes the role of Alonso Quijana, an old gentleman who has lost his mind and now believes that he should go forth as a knight-errant. Quijana renames himself Don Quixote de La Mancha, and sets out to find adventures with his "squire", Sancho Panza. [Wikipedia]
This time as I watched the movie, one of the lesser-known numbers struck a chord with me. It is a musical exchange between Sancho and Aldonza, a scullery maid with loose morals whom Don Quixote treats as though she is a princess. She has watched in amazement how Sancho has taken care of Don Quixote and catered to his every whim. She wants to know why Sancho does what he does for him, and why he is so kind and loyal to such an obviously crazy man. The following musical conversation takes place between Sancho and Aldonza.
"I like him… I really like him! I don't have a very good reason,
Since I've been with him,
Cuckoo-nuts have been in season... But there's nothing I can do, Chop me up for onion stew, Still I'll yell to the sky
I can't tell you why, That I like him!"
"It doesn't make any sense! "
"That's because you're not a squire."
" All right, I'm not a squire. How does a squire, squire?"
"Well, I ride behind him... and he fights. Then I pick him up off the ground, and..."
"But, what do you get out of it?"
"What do I get? Oh! Why, already I've gotten..."
"You've got nothing! Why do you do it?"
"I like him, I really like him.
Pluck me naked as a scalded chicken, I like him! Don't ask me for why or wherefore, 'Cause I don't have a single good
" because" or "therefore!"
You can barbecue my nose.
Make a giblet of my toes,
Make me freeze, make me fry.
Make me sigh, make me cry.
Still I'll yell to the sky, I can't tell you why. That I like him!"
Aren't we fortunate, if in our lifetimes, besides our parents who are stuck with us, we find one or two people, like Sancho, who, in spite of our faults, failings, idiosyncrasies, warts, barnacles, and most nauseating characteristics, still really like us, for apparently no good reason.
I have thought about my relationship with Joanne over the past 23 years since my accident. As Sancho said about the time he had spent as the squire of Don Quixote -- "cuckoo nuts have been in season”-- for Joanne all these years as she has acted as my squire. She does, and has done for me, all these years what Sancho did for Don Quixote. She rides behind me, and I fight, then she picks me up off the ground.
I don't think anyone has ever asked Joanne the question Aldonza put to Sancho, "But what do you get out of it?" However, perhaps they have thought it.
You would have to know Joanne's dad, Joe Stuart, to appreciate what I am going to write next. One morning he was helping Joanne get me dressed and into my wheelchair for the day. As he was leaning over me, he looked at Joanne, who was on the other side of the bed, and said, "Boy your life sure went down the tubes when Jack had his accident!" He then got a sickly grin on his face when he realized what he had just said and we all burst out laughing.
Joanne has always made me feel over the years, since my accident, though she, like Sancho, may be hard pressed to say why, that she likes me. At least she always makes me feel like she really likes me. Even I can't figure out why, but it surely does make me feel good.
I am sure there must be times when she, like Sancho, might say to herself, "Don't ask me for why or wherefore, 'cause I don't have a single good " because" or "therefore."
What I write next would probably never make it through church correlation, but here goes. The Savior, the Scriptures teach, [See the numerous references in the topical guide], is our advocate with the Father. For example –"Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the Kingdom. " [D&C 29:5]
I can just picture the Savior pleading our case before the Father. "I know they are "unprofitable servants" and "less than the dust of the earth. They are so very imperfect in many ways, but I like them – I really like them, I like them so much I have given my life for them. Please have mercy on them, Father."
And so when we get discouraged and may think that not even one other mortal being really likes us and can overlook some of our imperfections, we can take comfort in knowing there is ONE who does.