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Letter: A coincidence on the Cape that felt like a blessing

To the editor: During a recent visit to Cape Cod, my husband and I noticed a particular T-shirt displayed in a shop window.

Printed on the front is a graphic design of magnolia blossoms and the words “I slapped Ouiser Boudreau.”

Several personal connections to noticing this T-shirt activated my sense of adventure and desire to speak with the designer about the motivation and inspiration for this intriguing work. First, I was born and raised in the deep South and, in youthful bravery, actually built a tiny platform-treehouse high up in a large Southern Magnolia tree. Second, I enjoyed performing the role of Ouiser in a community theater production of the stage play "Steel Magnolias." Third, I had begun using the name "Ouiser" to reset my passwords just days before I was drawn into the name being printed on a tee-shirt.

When considering a common thread in a sequence of events such as those listed above, I believe them to be a series of blessings rather than a series of coincidences. I wanted to thank the designer face-to-face and ask about his or her interest in creating the design of the T-shirt.

Fortunately, the designer became available and conveyed how his follow-through was propelled. He was especially touched by a scene in the movie "Steel Magnolias," a comedy drama about the bonds of friendships among Southern women who are coping with and confronting their griefs, losses, life’s tragedies and heartaches.

When M’Lynn (Sally Field) was grieving the death of her daughter (Julia Roberts) and said she wanted to hit something, her friend Clairee (Olympia Dukasis) suggested she slap Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine) so they could wear “I slapped Ouiser Boudreaux” T-shirts. This comic relief one-liner prompted the designer’s commitment to “make a T-shirt of that.”

Given the nature of this film and the wide-range continuum of interpretations of this given scene, my spirit is enriched by acknowledging the potential benefits of interjecting humor into a deeply painful occurrence that is causing a person to grieve relentlessly. Laughter can become a spontaneous, readily available and compassionate source of energy as we try to move forward in our transitions through grief. Most importantly, it can boost our responses to the socio-political avoidance of having conversations about death, dying and grief.

I’m so happy to have met this designer and I’m grateful for the feelings of connectedness to this enlightened individual.

Edith V. Pye, Pittsfield

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