The movie Diane starring Mary Kay Place makes aging look pretty depressing. We saw it last Friday night. Diane is seventy years old when the movie begins, a widow in a small town in Massachusetts. She is doing all the ‘right’ things to try to make the last third of her life meaningful.
She’s helping others. She volunteers at a drop-in that serves meals to the homeless and she delivers homemade casseroles to ailing friends and relatives. She visits patients in the hospital.
She’s connected to people. She maintains a relationship with her only son and his partner even though it requires tremendous effort on her part. She has friends she meets with regularly for meals and card games. She has close contact with her extended family and gets together often with them.
She has interests. She journals and reads and writes poetry. She takes walks in the woods and has bird feeders around her home. She attends church. She likes music.
She makes lists of things to do each day setting goals and tasks for herself.
But despite all these efforts at engagement and connection her life still is pretty sad and bleak. People she is close to keep dying. She tries to stay busy but there is still substantial time when she is alone and lonely. During these solitary hours she thinks about her past, the mistakes she’s made and worries if she is doing enough to atone for them.
Diane knows the limitations of her situation and for the most part accepts them with grace, but every once and a while her anger and frustration bubbles to the surface.
In the last years of her life my mother-in-law often said that growing old was not for cowards. The movie Diane makes that abundantly clear. I’m not sure if I am glad I saw it or not.
She Walks in Beauty
“Growing old is not for cowards.” My mother-in-law said that a number of times to me in the last years of her life. It is something I thought of over and over again as I watched the beautifully filmed Mr. Holmes on Friday night. As we witness the character growth of Sherlock Holmes, who exhibits exemplary courage in the face of his imminent death, we learn valuable lessons about growing old.
Never stop searching for answers.
Writing helps us remember.
Personal relationships are life’s greatest value.
Sometimes we need to fictionalize our past to some degree in order to live in the present.
Connections with nature enrich us, ground us and give us perspective.
Teaching something to someone else is energizing and rewarding.
Bees and bee-keeping play a prominent role in the movie Mr. Holmes and the life lessons the film teaches drip like honey from a comb into your heart- sweet and to be savoured.
Other posts about movies and relationships……...
A Sure Fire Way To Make Your Day
The Parent Child Connection
Love in a Lunchbox
Yesterday we went on a walk with Dave’s Dad. I went up to his room to get a cap and a sweater for him and all I could find was this Stetson like hat. It was a beautiful sunny day. When Dad noticed I was taking photos he gave a little wave for the camera.Dad’s sister, Aggie was watering the flower pots outside her nearby apartment and so we stopped for a chat.
At 91 Aunt Aggie still has her own apartment, swims, bakes all kinds of delicious things for other people, drives her own car, and leads devotions four times a week at the nursing home. She told us the Scripture passage for her devotions that morning had been Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not. For I am with you.”Next we ran into Dad’s friend Henry Epp who kidded him about his hat. “You look like a cowboy Cornie,” he said. Dad chatted with another woman and his sister Margaret. Tante Margaret was on her way over to the nursing home from her apartment. She goes to the nursing home everyday at noon with her walker to help feed the residents there who have trouble eating on their own. We walked through the garden of the nursing home and stopped to look at an oak tree planted with acorns brought from a tree near the Mennonite villages in Ukraine where Dad was born. We sat for a time enjoying the sun in the courtyard.I showed Dad some photos my brother-in-law John had found chronicling the time Dad spent in a conscientious objectors camp during World War II. Dad recognized himself in a few of the photos.Then we headed back to the nursing home.I had brought my lap top along and Dave showed Dad a bunch of photos of our sons, their wives and our grandson and told him about their lives and what they were doing.
I chatted with one of the nursing home workers who had helped us get Dad into the wheelchair for his walk. “Your father-in-law has been a real inspiration to me,” she said. ” I admire the way his faith allows him to accept things with such peace and a positive attitude,” she told me.
Other posts about Dave’s parents…...
Anne Driedger 1923-2011
Lives Lived- Anne Enns Driedger
He Hasn’t Lost His Sense of Humour