for a make-believe boy in a make-believe world I have strange concept of what is a good way to start the weekend. You see - around here, one of the satellite channels show re-runs of Little House on the Prairie on weekend mornings. And I love that show. I've read all of Laura Ingalls Wilders books and I know that the TV-show is not really very close to her real life. In a way you can say they took the essence of the books and created a make-believe world based on that. The TV-show took on a life of its own, in a way. To me, the characters are very real, even though I know they are just make-believe characters in a make-believe world. Don't misunderstand me - I am perfectly able to see the difference between Laura Ingalls Wilder of the TV-show and Melissa Ellen Gilbert the actress - and the real Laura Ingalls Wilder. But to me, Laura of the TV-show is almost as real as the other two. I've witnessed her life since the very first shows. I've cried with her and laughed with her. She and her father, the character Charles Philip Ingalls as portrayed by Michael Landon, have been my moral guideline at times. They've been my reminder of a way of life based on honesty, kindness and faith in God and your fellow man. So when I woke up this morning, I turned on the television and watched another episode of Little House - or as it is, a movie sequel to the Little House series called "Look Back to Yesterday". It is a very sad story. Albert Ingalls (Laura's adopted brother) is diagnosed with leukemia. The story, although sad and heartwrenching, is still a story of hope and life. Charles and his family has moved away from Walnut Grove at the time. After receiving the diagnosis, Albert decides to go home to Walnut Grove - to live out his remaining days in the small town where he became Albert Ingalls. Charles and Albert move in with Laura, who is still living in Walnut Grove with her husbond, Almanzo, and their family. And the story goes on from being about sadness and loss to being about hope, memories and the fact that life goes on. Albert, despite being weakened by his leukemia, is determined to go on creating good memories. His last romance, which could have been a sad tale of the lost dreams of a sick boy, is a beautiful rendering of a love which has no time in this world, but is sweet in all the sadness. The last part of the movie, directed by Victor French (Isaiah Edwards) takes us to the Keepsake Tree on one of the hills (or small mountains) outside Walnut Grove. Albert, supported by the love of his family and friends, climbs the mountain unassisted and open the Keepsake strongbox to add a memento to the box. To add his last memories to those of his childhood. And in the background, a young boy steals a kiss from a young girl - which is that one ray of light the story needed to be more than just a sob story. It is a reminder of hope that goes beyond hope - that life goes on, even right up to the end and that even in the darkest hours, there is a ray of light. I'm not a religious person. I'm not sure what I believe in. But the strength of faith which has lead Michael Landon and Victor French to create a world so poignant and strong, so memorable and so believable based on the unforgettable stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder is admirable. What I do know is that Michael Landon himself died from pancreatic cancer in 1991, a few years after the Little House ended and two years after the death of his friend and co-star through many years Victor French. And I believe they used the Little House moviesto convey that ray of light, that hope beyond hope, which they found in their faith in God. That is what makes me come back to Little House now, many years after their deaths. Yes, life goes on. That's an important lesson taught to me by the death of a make-believe boy in a make-believe world, conveyed in reruns of a TV-show now long gone.
Little House: Look Back to Yesterday
Little House: Look Back to Yesterday
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Albert Quinn Ingalls wants to be a doctor. But soon he discovers that he is fatally ill. He decides to spend the rest of his life in Walnut Grove. Meanwhile children from school are preparing for their traditional climbing of the mountain.
March 15, 2021