amnesia, Beijing, blockbuster, Channing Tatum, China, commitment, family, Guangzhou, hardship, Kim Carpenter, Krickitt Carpenter, love, marriage, meningitis, movie, Olympics, Rachel McAdams, short-term memory loss, The Vow, trailer, Valentine's Day
Tomorrow the Channing Tatum – Rachael McAdams starrer “The Vow” comes out on DVD. I remember seeing someone’s Facebook post of the trailer while I was in France last year and I remember sharing it and agreeing to go see it with a friend on Valentine’s Day weekend when it got released.
I didn’t quite get to watch the movie until the last weekend of February, by which point I had heard many people say it wasn’t worth it. Many complained about the ambiguous ending because it didn’t fit the blockbuster fairy tale script, but I quite liked the realism of it. What the movie lacked, however, was the ability to really show the commitment and motivation of Channing Tatum’s character in his attempt to recover his wife. The movie was only skin-deep.
What I failed to realize when I watched “The Vow,” however, was that this very story had occurred in my own family. It wasn’t until I saw my aunt during this recent trip to China that I remembered that she was the Krickitt in their relationship.
In my aunt’s case, she had a case of what I believed to be meningitis that put her in a coma. When she awoke, she didn’t recognize her husband or her family members. She had amnesia not only of their 15-year relationship but also nearly everything including her own name. Formerly a top editor at a magazine based in Beijing, she woke up without knowing how to read or write.
She had to start back at square one. And her husband stayed by her every step of the way.
Everyone has always said that my aunt is incredibly lucky to have not just such a caring husband, but also in-laws who treat her as their own child. My aunt’s mother-in-law took care of her in the aftermath, reteaching her everything from how to read and write to how to buy a subway ticket. It’s clear that the amnesia had not wiped the slate clean, as my aunt was able to pick up the material pretty quickly. Rather, it seemed like the disease had erased major parts of her memory but left the foundations intact.
It’s been five years now. My aunt still can’t remember many things from her past life and instead has only the stories told to her by others – of her as a masters student in Beijing; of her and her husband when they were dating; of how they decided to move out to Guangzhou and try their luck there (and then without attaining much success, moved back to Beijing); of her picking me up from preschool. She also still suffers from short-term memory loss – she doesn’t always remember conversations she has just had; she knows that she and I went to the Olympics in 2008, but has no memory of what we saw (track & field finals).
She also has some problems with control and her personality has changed a little bit. But it’s a good thing she has always been an optimistic person – it’s kept her going these past few years. And no doubt, she knows how much she is loved and just how lucky she is to have a husband who stayed by her and never wavered in his love even when she couldn’t even remember who he was.
“The Vow” may just be a theatrical version of what happened to Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, and whether or not you liked the movie, it is a powerful reminder of the strength of love and the ability to overcome hardship with love and commitment.