Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bye - Curious

I wanted to take a few moments and offer a dual post before heading into a very full remainder of the weekend.

Bye - Because of the early death of my dad, my mom's 89th year has given me a baptism into the realities of aging and, more significantly, the entire cauldron of emotions that are aroused in the process. My wife and I, along with all three of my adult children, surprised my mom by flying to San Francisco on Tuesday, and then renting a car and driving south to Fresno, arriving about 10:30 to surprise my mom for New Year's. I walked into her apartment in her retirement center and she was asleep on the edge of her chair, her head bent over as she breathed deeply. She woke with a start and once she saw us, broke into a broad grin. Something about the whole scene, the combination of frailty and joy, vulnerability and gratitude, combined to create a moment, the first of several over the past several days, where I needed to force myself to hold back tears.

We spent lots of time looking at pictures, both of our own children when they were young, me when I was a baby, and my mom when she was a beauty, newly married and skating on the ponds of Evergreen Colorado, where her new husband was stationed in WWII. I'd fight back tears again when I visited her sister, who was stricken with encephalitis several years ago and has never been the same since. She's not able to communicate much at all, and looked quite tired when we visited in the early evening of new year's day. But when my wife said, "Your sister's here to see you", though she said nothing, you could see her eyes light up. I watched them, sitting together, and though back to the many years when these two women were the exemplers of strength in my life. My mom in caring for a husband who was stricken with pneumonia each winter; my aunt in supporting her husband as he shepherded a growing church in Fresno for 25 years. When he called us together to join hands and pray, I fought back the tears yet again.

We were down in Fresno because my mom is needing to make a move to assisted living and I wanted to be there when the news was delivered. She resisted but, resigned to reality of it, looked at me on the day we were leaving and said, "aging is no fun at all" as she hugged me and told me how much she loved me. One more time, I managed to hold back the tears as I told her how much I loved her too.

We left on Friday and it was then, when I walked out the door as mom, sitting in her chair smiling and thanking us for coming, said good bye, that the tears finally won the fight. I knew that as soon as we left, she'd start thinking about the reality of her upcoming move. I knew that she'd be sad. I wanted to stay; wanted to comfort her; wanted her to be young again... but none of that is reality. I said "bye mom", as I have thousands of times over my half a century of living, and walked out the door. Never was that phrase more poignant. The family walked straight ahead to the car. I turned left, walked behind an adjacent building and cried my eyes out for thirty seconds before putting on sunglasses, getting in the car, and driving to San Francisco. Those tears where the release of three days, maybe three years, maybe thirty years of emotion; much more than I'll ever share here. But they were good tears, and somehow, in her aging and vulnerability, I'm learning a great deal about myself, my soul, the realities of how brief life is, and what it means to live in this fallen world.

Curious - There are way too many compelling movies in the theater right now and for a family that's presently on a tight budget, I hope you'll help me out by telling me what you've seen, what's a must see in the theater, what can wait until video, and what can wait forever. Here are the movies that interest me:

Revolutionary Road

Slumdog Millionaire

Benjamin Button


The Reader

Gran Torino

Seven Pounds

How can so many good looking movies be available at the same time? Please help me, and others, invest wisely, by sharing your reviews and investigations.

Happy New Years...and thanks for graciously reading a 'dual post'


At 3/1/09 19:43, Blogger kiki5253 said...

7lbs was interesting, a little dark but incredibly thought provoking. I thought it was well done, but not exactly a family 'feel good' movie.

You should definitely see it sometime. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the movie after you see it.

At 3/1/09 20:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slumdog is a MUST SEE! I plan on owning it when it's available (high praise for someone who has approximately 12 DVDs to her name)...

I haven't seen the others, but heard a few nurses on my unit saying that Benjamin Button was ok, but not amazing. Not sure if it's fair to pass on second hand recommendations, but there you have it.


At 3/1/09 20:46, Blogger Sean said...

Benjamin Button is a good flick. Not phenomenal, in my view, but you might find it poignant based on your Bye post. You should read the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story as wel though. Its quite good.

At 3/1/09 21:26, Blogger Jake said...

Gran Torino and Slumdog are both absolutely amazing and both 'must see's'!

At 3/1/09 22:02, Blogger Jennie said...

Benjamin Button is a pretty good movie. Definitely worth seeing but could be a renter. Like most dramas it doesn't demand the big screen. It tells the story beautifully and gives much to think about.

At 3/1/09 22:27, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gran Torino was amazing - extremely thought provoking and very interesting. I highly recommend it!

At 4/1/09 11:41, Anonymous Will Hale said...

Seven Pounds is a provocative movie. I wish I could share the conversations about faith one could draw out of it, but that is impossible without giving away the movie.

I looked up out of curiosity what Plugged-In had to say- a personal morbid interest of mine that always leaves me frustrated at their lack of depth.You can't read without spoiling the movie. They make valid points, but again, are distracted from truly exegeting the film and its message as art, and against well exegeted Christian thought.

At 4/1/09 12:14, Blogger Donte said...

Seven Pounds…first movie that I’ve seen in the theatre in three years.

At 4/1/09 12:35, Anonymous Jeff said...

more props for Slumdog Millionaire -- gotta see it!

At 4/1/09 13:16, Blogger Penny said...

Revolutionary Road prompted some very good reflections and conversations about how we live our lives, what is meaningful, etc... but I found the movie didn't draw me into the personal stories enough to really feel the emotional weight of what was being conveyed. I'd wait for the DVD.

At 4/1/09 13:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a beautiful and deeply moving post, richard. thank you. my parents, only in their mid-60's now, recently retired and have moved to the seattle area (not far from me). i found myself caught up in a moment of emotion, though, as i walked out of their condominium on the evening of thanksgiving. it occurred to me that after many moves in thier lifetimes, this will probably be the last. and someday i may walk out of that place and one of them may not be there. and one day neither of them will be there. the weight of how precious and fleeting life is seemed to fall on me, and i pray it changes the way i relate to them and others in this new year.... thank you again for such a beautifully moving post.

as for movies, seven pounds is the only one i've seen on your list so far, but i thought it was WELL, well worth the price. a profoundly affecting film. i thought about it for days afterward. brooding, but beautiful.

At 4/1/09 14:41, Blogger huysmantrophy said...

Slumdog is an incredible, must-see movie, BUT I think Benjamin Button has to be seen on the big screen to get the full experience. I think it will really move you, especially in light of the experience you are having with aging right now. Cate and Brad are amazing.
Also, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the amazing sermon this morning. I have heard tons of incredible things from you, but my friends and I agreed that today was challenging, timely, inspiring and convicting, and we were extremely grateful for it. Thank you again for sharing your life with us, please know how encouraging your words are for others at a time when you probably need encouragement more than ever. BLESSINGS!

At 4/1/09 22:33, Anonymous jess said...

definitely Slumdog and Gran Torino.

At 5/1/09 05:18, Blogger Myowne said...

I appreciated your post because in so many ways it brought back to mind the way I felt when my grandmother started to age. I remember the response my mother and her siblings gave as they watched her slip into a much more vulnberable state than she had ever been in her whole life. She had always been so independent and able to make her own decisions even after my grandfather passed. But when her body finally succumbed to age, it was difficult to accept. But you are right to embrace every aspect of this time in your mother's life, though tears come. You are a good son for honoring your mother. Remember that.

As far as the movies, I only saw Seven Pounds. It was a little strange at the beginning but I found it to be very thought-provoking as well. The themes presented would work well ina sermon or a teaching series. Definitely watch it on the big screen if you can.

At 5/1/09 10:32, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your list didn't include "America the Beautiful" - an independent film that past through Seattle's Queen Anne theatre late last summer, but will (hopefully!) be coming out on DVD this winter or spring. It is a MUST SEE - a fascinating film about America's disturbing obsession with beauty and the destructive effects it has had on our society. Every teenager should see it... it will come out in both a PG-13 and R version... and, I think, every American should see it. Like many documentaries, it will be just as good on video and I plan on owning it and sharing it with all my friends!

At 5/1/09 20:55, Blogger Joanie said...

Overwhelmed with what you've shared about your Mom (and her sister) and your journey. When I see the pictures of her ~ I still see her smiling (and often twinkling) eyes, I hear the fiestiness in her voice (and telling me that we should be back at Bethany), I feel her zest for life and living and loving! I can only imagine your feelings as you go through this time. I know I've dealt with a level of sadness myself for when I saw her last year, she didn't remember me. And yet, I reminded myself that I was the one who had been away, but I'd been given the gift of the times we'd shared earlier, what she had taught me in those times and no one can take away the JOY she shared with me!

I pray for peace during this new season in your life, not only for you ~ but also your Mom and the rest of the family. You shared that it's our job to prepare the way for the ones who will follow. I hope I learn from the many wonderful people who've blessed my life and continue to prepare the way for those who will follow me and share His JOY and LOVE in the midst of the time I have here... "Grandma Nadine" has certainly done that in my life! Blessings dear friend.

At 6/1/09 10:45, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your recent experience with your family. I believe it always helps learning of other peoples perspectives on life and aging to help our own potential life shifts, and how we may act during them.

I saw 7 pounds with my wife. It was an interesting idea for a movie, but poorly executed. The ending was absurd, and I truly wish I had my two hours back.

There were glimpses of a decent movie, but it failed miserably.

I am reluctant to see Gran Torino, as I have rarely enjoyed a Clint Eastwood directed movie. I believe I have seen 8 of his films since 1987(White Hunter Black Heart) and I leave empty each time.

I am going to see Slumdog Millionaire, but the others I will more than likely stay away from. 2008 has not been a good movie year.

If by chance any of you want some thought provoking material, and these possibly fell through the cracks, PLEASE SEE THEM:

Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red, White, Blue(all separate movies.)
Kieslowski's Decalogue, 10 separate films about the 10 commandments.

Hoop Dreams, and Stevie. Two fabulous documentaries.

Just some of my favorites that have really stood the test of time.

At 7/1/09 10:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bye - Curious


At 7/1/09 19:11, Anonymous Amanda said...

The only one I've seen so far is Benjamin Button. I thought it was *awesome*. Such a wonderful picture of life, of frailty, of love, and those we hold so dear. In my opinion, it's a must see. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back to the theater.

I really want to see Gran Torino, Slumdog, and Revolutionary Road.

At 9/1/09 16:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. I am retired and my parents live with me. I am so thankful that I can cook for them and drive them where they need to go. My mom who is 85 sometimes doesn't know me but she is so thankful for the food I bring to them downstairs. My Dad is 91 and still strong in fact he cut the tree in front of our house yesterday.They are old but they never cease to be a parent to me. My Dad always shows concern in his own little ways for us, my children and our grandchildren.


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