The mother stands slumping in the corner. The moonlight gently casts the shadows of the bars in her cage which highlights her sadness. Through the bars of her window she sees the top of her child trying to reach in. The mother stands straight and her sadness is immediately replaced by a huge smile and the joy exclusive to a mother who was desperately missing her child.

The child disappears from the window and the mother moves forward to try and reach him. The chains on her legs stop her from reaching the window to visually embrace her child. Since she can no longer see her child, she uses her trunk to find her child’s scent. The child looks up from the outside of the barred window and sees his mother trying to reach him. He nudges forward and stretches his trunk to reach his mother.

The chains, barred widow and cage prevent them from a full embrace but they manage to cuddle with their trunks. Like a newborn baby cooing while the mother fawns over her child, temporary happiness is lamented. Dumbo grabs his mother’s trunk and his huge baby eyes swell up with elephant tears, not knowing if this would be their last mother and child embrace. Mrs. Jumbo holds Dumbo and gently sways him thru the bars as the song “Baby Mine” softly plays, “Baby mine, don’t cry, never to part, baby mine.”

Ask anyone who has seen the 1941 Walt Disney animated film, “Dumbo” and get ready for them to explain how this one scene from the movie is etched forever in their movie memory bank.

In case you are from another planet and have never seen “Dumbo”, the story line is simple. This is how my adult daughter Brenna explains her memory of the movie. Storks deliver Mrs. Jumbo a baby elephant with ears as huge as wings. The other elephants and circus animals cruelly nickname the newly delivered infant “Dumbo”… as in dumb. Mrs. Jumbo and Dumbo are separated and with no parent to defend Dumbo, he is shunned by the other elephants, ridiculed and alone. Timothy Q. Mouse, he really is a mouse, feels sympathy for Dumbo and becomes determined to help him regain his spirits, appoints himself as Dumbo's protector. Timothy is able to get Dumbo to fly, using a psychological trick of a "magic feather" to boost his confidence. Dumbo’s seemingly handicap becomes his greatest asset.

To try and get a better understanding of why Dumbo affected so many people in the same way, I did some research and found in “Psychology Today” this perspective. “Dumbo, a little elephant with big ears could fly. However, he only believed it was possible when he held a magic feather in his trunk. The feather was his source confidence of and comfort. It provided a secure touch point and reminded him of what was possible.  Sometimes we need something to remind us that we can soar too. When we are trying to make a change for the good, we can deliberately connect the desired internal response with an external trigger.”

What the heck? 

They are psychologist and I know they are much smarter than me but here is the Steve Flores psychological analysis of why Dumbo has stayed with so many for so many years.

Sometimes in life you just need a good cry. You may not want one. But you know you need one. Whenever I need one, I just remember that one mother and child embrace scene in Dumbo. For me, the scene mentally forces you to remember the last hug from your Mom, Dad, spouse or loved one. You not only want to see them again and feel them, you want to hear their voice, and you want to smell their scent. What wouldn’t we give to have it just one more time?

Damn you Disney. You got me again.

The new Disney live-animation version of “Dumbo” will be released this Friday. I am reluctantly going to see it. I don’t see how Disney could possible improve the original 64-minute classic. I’ll have my tissue ready if I hear “Baby mine, don’t cry, never to part, baby mine.”

Somebody please hug me.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work normally appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

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