The Gift

As she stood in the living room, Doug’s daughter looked beautiful in her strapless, ankle length evening dress. Just gorgeous. Marge’s blonde hair was short and curly and that accentuated her blue eyes. She had her mother’s eyes. Ellen, her mother, snapped several photographs, then she urged Jack, her daughter’s date, to join Marge so she could take more.

Jack’s smile was the smile of someone who was receiving a precious gem. He took the flower out of its box, laid the box on the table and walked over to Marge. He went to pin the flower to the gown. His hand shook. He was too nervous.

Doug said softly, “I’ll do it.”

Jack looked at her dad with grateful eyes.

Doug took the flower from Jack’s hand and pinned it onto his daughter’s gown. “There,” he said, then kissed his daughter on the cheek.

“Thanks, Dad,” Marge said.

Doug backed away, proud of the girl they’d almost lost two years earlier from cancer. Ellen snapped more pictures. As Marge stood beside her date for the prom, her face glowed.

Doug and Ellen followed the two outside. Standing on the porch, they stood arm in arm, and watched the work of their lives get in the car and drive away. Their eyes were filled with wonder.

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Grandma’s Chair

“Dad, I want the chair,” Ellen said.

“That was Grandma’s chair and you can’t have it,” her brother, Taylor, said. “I think I should get it. I am the oldest.”

Fred was not happy that his children were fighting over his mother-in-law’s chair. She’d only been dead a week. Now the kids were fighting over her things. God, didn’t they have any sense? What would they be like when he died?

His wife, Madge, interrupted his thoughts. “None of you are getting it. It’s coming home with me and your father.” Madge didn’t even like the damned chair but she was sure as shooting not going to let the kids take it. It was her mother’s, after all.

That’s when Madge’s brother, Carl, stepped in. “You’re not going to take it, Madge. You didn’t even like it. I’m taking it.”

Madge gave Carl a look but figured that settled it. It did not. When it comes to family, it is never settled.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: Memories of Mother

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of Mother’s Day, this week’s Spotlight is the movie, “My Mother’s Castle” (1990):

A man looks back to the days of his youth in the early days of the twentieth century. The man is Marcel Pagnol. A boy and his family spends the holidays in Provence. Marcel is 13 or 14 years old. He goes there with his mother, Augustine, and his father, Joseph, a school teacher, his younger brother, Paul, and his baby sister. There they have a glorious time.

There the family relaxes with Oncle Jules and Tante Rose. Marcel runs free in the hills and meets a local boy, Lili. Lili’s family is poor and he traps animals to help feed his family. They become friends.

One holiday, he has his first encounter with love.He meets a young girl, Isabelle, who is a bit stuck on herself. They play “I’m the Queen and you’re the Knight”. She plays the piano. Eventually he becomes disillusioned with the girl. And that breaks his heart.

The family falls so much in love with the place they decide to return on weekends, not just on holiday. It is a four hour walk from public transportation. One afternoon they encounter one of Joseph’s former students. He is a canal worker. He offers to show the family a pathway by the canals. This will cut their walk down to a half hour.

The film may focus on Marcel and his adventures and the troubles the father may or may not have. But it is the mother who holds the family together as mothers often do.

Directed by Yves Robert, “My Mother’s Castle” is a wonderful tribute to family and our memories of some of the best days of our lives. When we were young and our parents were the center of our universe. Watch “My Mother’s Castle” and soak it up. You too will fall in love with this wonderful family.

And if you love “My Mother’s Castle”, you will want to see “My Father’s Glory”, which precedes it.

So enjoy.

Grandparents

La Grand Mere. We, in the family, knew no other name for her. Not Grandmother. Not Grandma as in Grandma got run over by a reindeer. Not Granmama. Not Granny. Not Nana. All those names were fine for the grandmothers of other people. It was Le Gran Mere for our grandmother.

You would think she was off-putting with a name like that. She wasn’t. She was the warmest of human beings. When she smiled, that smile could fill a room with its warmth. Now our grandfather, Grumps as we called him, was not like that. He was one sour puss of a human being.

I’m here to tell you that no one knew how those two ended up together. No one. When we asked La Grand Mere, she said, “Ask your grandfather.” When we asked Grumps, he just grunted and returned to what he was doing.

It became a joke in the family. Our parents made up stories. Our grandparents on my mother’s side made up stories. My wife’s stepmother and her stepson had a story. My best friend Jed and his stepfather and his stepbrother offered even more stories. I am here to tell you no one in the family knew the truth of the matter.

But the ones with the best story were our twins. One day they came into the kitchen and said, “We know why La Grand Mere and Grumps are together.” They had mischievous smiles on their faces.

“Why?” my wife asked for me as well as for herself.

They sang, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: Little Boy Lost

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “Lion” (2016):

Trailer for the movie “Lion”.

What if you had gotten separated from your family when you were five years old? That is what happened to Saroo, the hero of “Lion”. Saroo lived in  Khandwa, India with his mother, Kamla Munshi; his older brother, Giddu; and his younger sister, Shekila. They are poor. His mother, abandoned by her husband, works construction to support her three children. Saroo and Giddu steal coal off the trains for extra money for milk and food.

Giddu has work that will take him away from the family for several days. Saroo insists that he be taken to work too. Finally Giddu agrees. The two catch a train to a different town. It is night and Saroo is sleepy. So Giddu leaves him at the station, saying he will return soon. He does not return.

Saroo spends the next few years, wandering, until one day he ends up in an orphanage in Calcutta. He is adopted by an Australian couple, living on the Island of Tasmania.

Twenty-one years later, Saroo has flashbacks of his mother, his brother, his sister. The loss of his family drives him to find them again. Until he finds them, he will continue to be a little boy lost.