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..........
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.