Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Big Sky

It's been a while since we had a death in the family.

I went to see the movie Nebraska with a friend, tonight, after enjoying a lovely meal and a couple of glasses of wine, followed by a deliciously decadent dessert (on the house, no less) and a cuppa decaf for us both.  No one's taken me out to dinner in some time, and though this wasn't technically a "date", it was still a delightful substitute for one, requiring no further negotiation than a steadfast commitment to put on our boots and go sledding together sometime soon.  Thank goodness for good friends who happen to know where I can get a good haircut.

The movie was touching.  It was an apparently low-budget film, shot in black and white, starring a few familiar faces and many unfamiliar ones, several of whom were older folks with a lot of wrinkles on their faces and little if any acting experience.  There were a few mildly hilarious moments, and many softly heartbreaking ones, in this story.  We'd chosen this movie over a few others because I wasn't up for anything too serious or dramatic, and the table next to us gave it a more promising review than our runner up.  As chance would have it, this particular choice turned out to be, for me, quite a bit more poignant than I had thought to anticipate.  

The story followed an old man who was aging, addled and increasingly fragile, as he traveled from Montana to Nebraska, on the road to his Old Age.  

Watching the telling of this story, I was reminded of so many aspects of family, and home... This may not be a movie for someone from New Mexico or South Carolina, but the language of the Great Plains speaks to those of us who have lived even only on its edges, from Western Minnesota through the Dakotas, to the Rockies, North and South, and of course in the Heart of It All...wherever that might be.  Old farms and small towns, windbreaks and hay bales, dirt roads following fences to the's all wide open.  Scale is relative.  And relatives are non-negotiable.  

The scenery was familiar, from the shoulders of the highways to the contours of the landscape to the geometry of small town life to the expressions of each family member to the shape of the clouds to the delicate gestures of an ailing man to the love in a sideways smile, and I realized more than once, with tears rolling down my cheeks, that this coming weekend--and the past two weeks--may be more of an emotional journey than I'd thought I was on.  I'm to sing, with my two dear and lovely sisters, at my grandpa's memorial service this Sunday, and although the event will indeed and truly be a celebration of his life and Love, there is still to be acknowledged the passing of a great man, who is and ever will be dearly missed by all of us, his family.

I don't wish to eulogize my grandfather here, tonight, but only to voice my gratitude for the company of a loving friend, and for the grace with which the Universe offers us insight, compassion, and peace, that we might have the sense to share it, in our time.  

And thanks also to you, dear reader, for your thoughts. 

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