Monday, April 06, 2009

The Savages

Corey and I just finished watching The Savages thanks to Netflix. I remember adding it to our queue because I love "Phil Hoffman" as the director calls him. Now that it has arrived, I can't believe how serendipitous it seems based on what's going on in our lives. Each of us has a relative who is struggling with dementia at the moment, and my maternal family is working through the logistics, guilt, grief, and difficulty of transitioning my grandmother into a nursing home.

I couldn't believe how much this movie affected me, even from the title. It does indeed seem a savage process to have to age like this, to travel through incontinence and forgetting. To have to become the care provider for the person who was supposed to care for you. I am dealing with a lot of guilt at my removal from helping with my grandmother--I live 4 hours away, which seems a valid enough excuse until I listen to my mother describe the daily experience of taking care of her. I want so badly to help. Like Wendy Savage, I work predominantly as a freelance writer. Ben Savage tells her she has to take care of her dad at one point because her life is "portable." But like Ben Savage, I also teach at a university. It's a complicated pickle.

I last spoke to my grandmother on Saturday morning, when she asked me why I wouldn't be playing rugby that day. I got very sad when, after I reminded her I was pregnant, she said, "Oh! That's so wonderful! When did you find out?" Through all her confusions of late, she has always remembered my pregnancy, making it one of the few canned sets of sentences I had come to rely on in the conversation. (Corey will be a good dad; I can't wait to see this baby; I always loved being pregnant...etc.)

At one point during the movie, when Corey noticed I looked particularly sad, he just took my hand and reassured me we would move my mom out here to Pittsburgh to be near us if she finds herself in that state. By the end of the movie, we knew we had to buy the house across the street (currently for sale, if any relatives are interested!) and fill it with his siblings, both of our parents, and the hired house staff we'll need to help them sweep the hardwood floors.

All I can say in the end is that I am grateful to have my extended family. As wonderful as my life is in Pittsburgh, it sorely lacks the ease and comfort of family and, while I would never hope to see my loved ones deteriorate like Lenny Savage, I grew secretly wishful at the thought of the extended clan living 60 feet away in the brick house with matching stained glass.

5 comments:

Em said...

I'm sorry, Katy. Hanging Up and Mosquito Coast had a similar effect on me. It's really hard.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post, Katy. I will buy the house across the street -- will it still be on sale in a year?

-Jordan

Jane said...

I'm crying here.

ninny said...

jordy - if you're buying the house next year - i want to move in then! wouldn't that be fun?!

pghrugbyangel said...

Oh, Katy, I'm sort of feeling your pain. I hate that my family is SO FAR AWAY. If something happens to my parents, I can't be there to do anything. And when my sister's baby is born, I have to rely on a webcam to see it regularly. :-( I may very well adopt Baby Lev as my "In the Burgh relative" and come by to see him OFTEN. Just a warning.