Saturday, October 10, 2015

Old Ladies Behaving Badly/Part One



We recently watched Redwood Highway, a movie about an angry woman, roughly my age, living in a retirement home in Oregon. Marie's granddaughter is about to be married. She's invited but refuses to go. Her son tries in vain to persuade her. She's angry that the granddaughter's young man has long hair and makes his living as a drummer. She'd be a fool to marry him, Marie declares, and someone needs to tell her so!

But that's not the only thing she's angry about. She's angry at life; angry that her husband died young; angry she had to raise her son alone; angry that she's in a retirement home; angry that people seem to think she's losing her marbles; angry that they might be right.

The granddaughter loves her grandma and is hurt that she won't be at her wedding. She leaves an angry phone message saying fine, I didn't really want you there anyway. Dad made me do it.

This sits in Marie's head for a while and next thing we know she's in the breakfast room at the retirement home surreptitiously stuffing her backpack with apples, bananas and rolls. She hoists the backpack onto her shoulders, glances furtively around, then sneaks out the door and hits the road. To where we don't yet know. Nor does anybody else.

While Marie is plodding along, refusing lifts but yelling at truckers who pass too close and too fast, all hell is breaking loose back at the retirement home. Consternation. Where could she be? The police are called in and a big search begins. Meanwhile, blissfully oblivious to the mayhem, Marie makes friends along the road, a succession of people who see her as a spunky and stubborn, if somewhat whacky, woman on a mission, not as the person of diminishing intelligence and abilities she believes her family consider her to be.

I did not like the character very much..........

but!

 I've seen the rolling eyes, the indulgent smiles, the "Oh mom"s" from those who once thought I had the answers to all of life's perplexing questions. I didn't, still don't. But it was a nice little fantasy while it lasted.

So our hair is white; we're not as svelte or as agile as once we were; our bones creak when we bend our knees and even louder when we straighten them again; we wish people would have the decency to avert their eyes as we try to struggle out of our cars; we don't recognise the people in our passport photos or on our driver's licenses or in our mirrors and worry that we'll be apprehended for identity theft; there are funny brown patches on our skin that we can no longer persuade ourselves are beauty marks and, the ultimate indignity,  shopgirls young enough to be our granddaughters call us "Sweetie" and "Honey."   Excuse me? I'm not your sweetie, or your honey either. But then, I realize I should be grateful --- their parents taught them to be kind to the elderly.

So, it was instructive to watch Redwood Highway. It reminded me to be positive; to mind my own beeswax and keep my nose on my face where it belongs. And, if I should ever decide to stuff my backpack and take to the roads, I will at least leave assurances that I have all my marbles with me, in the backpack, along with the apples and the bananas. I'd stop short of revealing my exact whereabouts though ---  because what would be the fun of running away if everybody knew where to find you?

I thought Marie was being self-centered and selfish. Spoil a granddaughter's wedding? Hello Sweetie! It's not about you! Show up with love in your heart and a smile on your face, give the long haired drummer a hug and quit misbehaving!

Which is what she did in the end.



12 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Intriguing.
I am grateful it came right in the end though.
And wincing at some of the truths contained in this post.

Marigold Jam said...

Brilliant. So near the knuckle in parts but good on her I'd say. Must look out for the DVD as it sounds great.

Pauline said...

I am glad this how the movie ended. We old folks have to remember how to be tolerant. After all, we expected it of so many in our youth! I may have to run away myself soon ;)

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I don't know why getting older takes us by surprise ... after all , the alternative would surely be more startling ?
But , of course , it's the reality of ageing that's so unexpected . The general slowing down .... And the sympathetic patience when I peer at the loose change in my purse trying to work out which is the 20 cents ,which the 10 , and which the 50 ( and which fool made them all the same colour ) .
And the increasing crabbiness ...

Relatively Retiring said...

Uncomfortable! I catch myself out with my thoughts and attitudes sometimes.

Thimbleanna said...

Well. That explains a lot. A few weeks ago a young female clerk called me honey. I thought it was weird, but never made the connection to my gray hair. Now I'll know -- thanks LOL!!!

Molly Bon said...

EC --- This was written tongue in cheek, sorta, but everyone seems to be taking it deadly serious. Maybe I am turning into a grumpy old lady in spite of my best intentions to the contrary!

Marigold --- I guess growing older pares away our illusions about ourselves and others. Marie walks all the way across Oregon, by herself, to prove she can, and shuffles up the beach just in time for the granddaughter's wedding!

Pauline --- Time to enjoy NOT being in charge of the world any more --- such a relief!

S&S --- I can tell the coins apart, it's getting them out of the change purse with uncooperative, arthritic fingers that's the challenge while everyone in line taps their toes and rolls their eyes...

RR --- I find it hard to believe that you would ever misbehave, even with thoughts and attitudes.....

Anna --- The answer is to dye our hair?? I swore off that years ago after The Little Blister, with the best of intentions, turned my hair green. I guess my fate is sealed.




StitchinByTheLake said...

Wonderful and insightful - I keep thinking of a line I read recently, "Inside I'm still young but no one notices." My fingers don't work well any more, everything that can fall has done so, my figure resembles an apple now (a very large apple), and I turn sideways to go down steps (what's that about/). But inside I'm still me and I'm hoping someone will see that. blessings, marlene

Secret Agent Woman said...

Mean-spiritedness almost never serves anyone well, no matter the age.

In these parts, pretty much everyone gets called sweetie and honey.

Molly Bon said...

Stitchin' --- How you feel matters more than how you look in the long run. I think the most beautiful older women are the ones who don't fight it....

SAW --- Ouch!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

We've all resolved to turn over a new leaf , go to the Creaky Ladies exercise classes regularly and be nice to people in general ... not just small children .
Does this mean that "they" will start making shoes that are attractive as well as comfortable , provide seating areas in public spaces and make public transport more accessible ?

Meanwhile I'm keen to read Part 2 .

Nathalie H.D. said...

Molly I just love the way you write. It's fun, it's witty and it's very true.