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A Many Splendored Thing And Dr. Han Suyin

A true story about a movie and a saying that I love to live by and I advise others to do so too.

Under a column called Notable Deaths Elsewhere yesterday, was a small column on the death of Han Suyin age 95. She was called Dr. Han who generated controversy with her view of China’s Cultural Revolution. She published two dozen novels and nonfiction books and memoirs set against the backdrop of upheaval in Asia.

Her most famous book was  “A Many Splendored  Thing” published in 1951 and it was based on her own life. She had a romance with a married war journalist and she was Eurasian and he was Caucasian. I saw this movie in about 1953 at a movie theater where in those days was the only place you saw movies, no internet, no videos, no DVD’s. I remember crying at the end and wishing I had been with a young man that I loved. Several years later, I saw it again at home on a video machine and I was with my now husband.

When I married in 1960, in between parts of the ceremony, I had hired a vocalist to sing the song from that movie by the name of the movie. I paid her fifty dollars to come and sing it (Dad paid for the rest of the lovely wedding). I bought copies of the book and before a video came out of it a few years later, I recorded it off the TV, when it showed again on the video tape, long before DVD’s and TiVo etc.

 You could say I have an obsession with the love story. The heroine was Han and it was played by Jennifer Jones and the hero was played by William Holden. It was a beautiful love story and still remains a classic, I believe.

When I saw Dr. Han’s (her last name) obituary, I felt like I lost a dear friend. She died at the age of 95. William Holden in the movie was killed in the Korean War while being a journalist. The story was likened to Romeo and Juliet, as their kind of love was called a forbidden love. Not only was he still married, though he tried to get a divorce and his wife would not agree; they were of different nationalities. In the movie, she lost a medical position due to that.

In many articles I have written previously, I have quoted a famous line at the end of the movie. William Holden said to Jennifer Jones, “if I do not return from this assignment, you and I have not missed. You and I have had this many splendored thing.”

If any of us at any time in our lives, experience the thought that you and I have not missed, we have had this many splendored thing; then we have arrived with lots of love, energy and happiness. We can get the love from our parents whom we have from the minute we are born, from our siblings, our grandparents, our friends, our relatives, our spouse, our professions, our recreation times and even the love we feel for our own being.

Not missing is a good thought and one we should keep in mind all the time. We all strive for happiness and there are many ways we achieve it.When I was a kid, education was what was ingrained in our young minds to accomplish and that would bring us happiness. We were happy to have a warm home, good food made always from scratch, no carryout in those days. We had fine parents, nice relatives, good schools and devoted teachers and some leisure places to go like to see a movie in a movie theater. I was sixteen when I saw my first live play at the Ford’s Theatre downtown and it was called Carousel. I was amazed at live theater and seeing it for the first time. Life was simple then and we were happy to get up every morning and go to school five days a week. Holidays were happy times that you spent with relatives who came to eat Mom’s delicious food. Schools were plain, no cafeterias to eat lunch in, we went home for the one hour allotted to us. I had no gym classes until I went to junior high school in 1946 or so and then we had to walk about six blocks to another school to use their facilities. Oh how I hated to climb the ropes and disliked gym so much. Ballroom dancing is my ‘gym’ now at age seventy-eight.

Then when I went to work in 1951 after graduating high school at sixteen, almost seventeen and I had money of my own. Then I saw a different part of life, earning my own money and spending it or saving it my own way.

When I married in 1960, there was a different way of living and doing. I had my own home after three years and being a homeowner is another way of living. Raising children, a widowed mother, ballroom dancing came into my life and things changed again.

So everyone can find their many splendored things in different ways. Whatever way you find it, have it or seek it, it is yours to have when you want it to enter your life. It could be a new job, a new spouse or friend, a new home or apartment, a new hobby or whatever you think will make it so.

You and I have not missed, because we have had the many splendored thing or we hope it will come soon. Rest in peace, Dr. Han Suyin.  You have given me a slogan or saying to live by. It is “a many splendored thing.”

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Elita Sohmer Clayman November 08, 2012 at 07:46 PM
This is one of my favorites movies as well and like South Pacific , I didn't get the social implications because of my background living in NYC. SP was my first introduction to Hawaii (Kauai in particular since it was filmed there) During our yearly visit we always play around with the storyline on the actual film locations; Mary even looks like Mitzi Gaynor. Ah, the "islands". Keep up your daily movement activities so the ballroom goal becomes a reality. Steven Behr Wellness Educator (253) 686-9797 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jeanette Ho November 10, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I first read the book in my late teens and must have read the book at least 4 times . I watched the movie 2 times. It is an amazing love story . Han Su Yin will in my heart remain a great author and we owe it to ourselves to discover the splendored things that enrich our life .Jeanette Ho
Elita Sohmer Clayman November 10, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Dear Jeanette, Thank you for your comments on my favorite book, movie and video. My added bonus and wonderful pleasure is that I have an Asian daughter-in-law for the last 12 years married to my son and two gorgeous, smart and dear grandchildren from them, a boy age 7 and a girl age 5. I now have my many splendored thing for sure. Best holiday greetings to you and thanks for liking my story. Elita Sohmer Clayman
Elita Sohmer Clayman November 14, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I was thinking back to my days of loving Han Suyin and her book Love Is A Many Splendored Thing and I remember that I wrote her a fan note many years ago. She replied to me and sent me her autograph. It was not Jennifer Jones, it was the real in person Dr. Han. I have to look through lots of junk I save and find it. I still love the book, the DVD, the video and the movie. I have loved it since I saw the movie in about 1953 or thereabouts.

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