Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me

  

Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter & Me—A Book I recommend by Lorilee Craker wherein she explores what it means to be Orphaned and what it means to Belong.

I suppose Lowell brought home this book from the library because of the title. I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables. I read through the entire series by Lucy Maud Montgomery when I was in grade three. I’ve watched the movies more times than I can count. In 2014 a dear bosom friend, Corinne, took me on the trip of a lifetime to Prince Edward Island to discover where Anne came to belong. I have always loved that precocious Anne with an “e”. However, I had never really thought of themes in the stories that I so completely connect with–themes of being orphaned, of longing for and of finding belonging.

Craker, in this deeply personal book, explores briefly what it is in us that is fascinated with literary orphans. Why do we resonate with characters like Oliver Twist, Mary Lennox (from The Secret Garden), Tom Sawyer, Harry Potter, Orphan Annie, Polyanna, Heidi, Dorothy Gale from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and others? Our popular culture is curiously populated with orphans too: Tarzan, Elsa, Mowgli, James Bond, Cyclops, Snow White, Margo, Edith and Agnes from Despicable Me. Even our super heroes are not exempt: Superman and Spiderman, Batman and Robin, The Flash, Captain Marvel, Captain America were all orphans.

In her story Craker came upon a definition of “orphan” that perhaps explains in part our obsession with the orphan. It was a definition that struck a chord. An orphan is one bereft, left behind and left.

By that definition, we’ve all been orphans at one time or another. We’ve all been brought to our knees by the loss of someone we love, somebody whose death bereaves us terribly. We’ve all been left behind, renounced, ditched, and forsaken. Fired. Dumped. Snubbed. And who among us has not been just plain left, plopped down on the curb of life, waiting for the ride that will never come? (page xi)

 The entire book is a masterful weaving together of Craker’s own story of being adopted by a kind hearted book seller and his devoted wife, the story of her adopting their beloved daughter, Phoebe, from Korea and the timeless tale of Anne of Green Gables. As the book unfolds the reader is invited to join Craker in her honest search for what it fully means to belong.

I suspect, as an Adult Third Culture Kid, I was part of an unintended audience for such a book. And yet I felt my heart stirred and consoled as Craker shared with vulnerability her painful questions and some of the answers she comes to that bring varying levels of comfort. Who knew that the red headed orphan girl who found a place on Prince Edward Island and in the hearts of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert could lead us to deep truths about heart connections, kinship and true community?

That (heart) break belongs to everyone who has ever been bereft, left behind, and left—in other words to Maude, to Phoebe, to all of us. But God mends and makes us strong at the broken places…

            Phoebe has to do her own work… I can tell her she’s work fighting for. I can tell her that our cracked stories don’t have the last word, not by a long shot. Baby girl, believe that the best things lie around the bend in the road. Stay fascinated with the road beyond! Speak in your own tongue and minister to the needs of humanity. Never forget.

            I can tell her that our heart-bones are healing because we belong to Jehovah Rapha.

            He said that there could be a better way; that all things could be made new.

            Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted. We all want to belong.

            He said He would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us. He never forgets the children whose names are written in the palm of his hand. God makes us belong. He is enough.

            At every bend in the road, our Father is waiting for us, reaching out his arms. And we are orphans no more. (Anne of Green Gables, My Dauther & Me. Lorilee Craker, Tyndale House, 2015. Pages 222-223).

“I am Glad to be Alive in You!”

Anne of Green Gables

“The “Anne” series let us dream about adolescence while holding on to childhood. The world of Avonlea—Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, the apple blossoms and the knickers and caps, dance cards, hay rides, Gilbert’s patient and steadfast heart—was gentler than what we might have imagined about adolescence……a last moment of being able to enjoy gentler childhood ideals.” from Why We Loved Gilbert Blythe” by Sarah Larson in The New Yorker

A couple of years ago, my daughter Stefanie wrote something on social media about “waiting for Gilbert Blythe.” I’m not sure the exact wording, but I remember laughing when a young woman who was six years older than Stefanie responded “Get in line.” This was the phenomenon that was Gilbert Blythe. 

My daughters grew up on Anne of Green Gables. Megan Follows was a household word. We loved the books, we loved the movies. Like the quote above, this series let girls “dream about adolescence while holding on to childhood.” And that is a gift my friends.

In honor of the untimely passing of Gilbert Blythe on April 19, a man who woman, separated by generations, all loved, I offer you these quotes from the “Anne” series.

Quotes from Anne of Green Gables

“Well, that is another hope gone. My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes. That’s a sentence I read once and I say it over to comfort myself in these times that try the soul.”

“Dear old world,” she murmured, “you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

I don’t want any of it to change. I wish I could just hold on to those days forever. I have a feeling things will never be the same again, will they?

“It makes me very sad at times to think about her. But really, Marilla, one can’t stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can one?”

“There’s a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.”

“Would you please call me Cordelia?”

Anne Shirley: Don’t you ever imagine things differently from what they are?

Marilla Cuthbert: No.

Anne Shirley: Oh Marilla, how much you miss.

Quotes from Anne of Avonlea

“Gilbert stretched himself out on the ferns beside the Bubble and looked
approvingly at Anne. If Gilbert had been asked to describe his ideal
woman the description would have answered point for point to Anne, even
to those seven tiny freckles whose obnoxious presence still continued to
vex her soul. Gilbert was as yet little more than a boy; but a boy has
his dreams as have others, and in Gilbert’s future there was always a
girl with big, limpid gray eyes, and a face as fine and delicate as a
flower. He had made up his mind, also, that his future must be worthy of its goddess.”

“In Gilbert’s eyes Anne’s greatest charm was the fact that she never stooped to the petty practices of so many of the Avonlea girls — the small jealousies, the little deceits and rivalries, the palpable bids for favor. Anne held herself apart from all this, not consciously or of design, but simply because anything of the sort was utterly foreign to her transparent, impulsive nature, crystal clear in its motives and aspirations.”

“For a moment Anne’s heart fluttered queerly and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert’s gaze and a rosy flush stained the paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . . perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath. ”

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“I think for legions of young women around the world who fell in love with the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ films, Jonathan literally represented the quintessential boy next door, and there were literally thousands of women who wrote to him over the years who saw him as a perfect mate,” Kevin Sullivan, Producer of “Anne of Green Gables” as quoted in NY Times.