I spent Labor Day catching up with a friend over lunch, a little shopping, and a great movie. We almost didn’t see it, as it was a rainy afternoon and the 3pm showing of “The Butler” was sold out.
“I could take it or leave it,” said Monika, expressing my own ambivalence. I had so much to do back home, and could use the extra hours to get ready to go back to what’ was certain to be another crazy work week.
But something told me it would be well worth the time. Plus it’s been ages since I’ve seen a good movie.
“Let’s get the 4:10 tix, come on. We’ll go check out Sephora 1st,” I suggested.
A few hours later, as the credits began to roll and the packed theater climbed out over our feet, I sat there – unable to move. Tears were streaming down my face, and I needed a moment to get my equilibrium back.
I expected the Civil Rights movement message, and the equality issues that have (and sadly still) plagued this country for so many generations. But the unexpected storyline, and the one that moved me, long after I’d left the theater, was the one between the butler, Cecil Gaines, and his son, Louis. Two strong men, from very different generations, fighting the same fight – in very different ways.
It took Cecil nearly his entire life to realize this, and to see his son for who he was: a hero. And to be proud of him. This made me so incredibly sad. And as I held back the sobs that welled up in my chest as the film came to a close, I knew why. Because I knew how Louis felt, both before and after being “seen” by his dad.
My father has recently gone through a similar transformation, and it feels like nothing short of a miracle to me. For the past 30 years, my relationship with the most important man in my life has consisted mainly of him passing the phone to my mother when I called, heated misunderstandings and arguments, and business talks. I’ve missed him terribly, and envied friends who had the kind of father/daughter relationship that I craved. But I had come to accept that as similar as we truly are, we would probably never see eye to eye.
This transformation had nothing to do with me, except maybe my accepting him as he was. Probably the greatest lesson I’m here to learn. Instead, he went through something life-changing, and in turn, now sees a lot of things differently – including me.
I feel blessed to finally have this time with him, but also more than a little sad that we’ve lost so much of it. However, I also realize that it may never have happened at all. So instead, I give thanks and hope that we’ll have many years to make up for it.
The truth is that we all are going through these transformations under the surface, WAY before we see any change. Which is why I never believe someone is a lost cause. You never know when the seeds you plant will take root and start to grow, but they’re there. The thing is, we never learn a lesson until we get to the moment to learn it. Even if sometimes it’s nearly too late.
To be completely honest, I often wish we could all do it a little more efficiently. I’m so painfully aware of how fragile life is, and that nothing is guaranteed. We could all be gone in an instant – and have to start all over again in the next lifetime.
And yes, I do believe that’s the whole point, that this is exactly what we are here to learn. But I can’t help but wonder if we could speed it up a bit. I for one am tired of losing friends, love, and time to the “process.” I’d love to see us all learn whatever we’re meant to by, let’s say 40? And then have the rest of our lives to enjoy what we’ve learned. Together.
A girl can dream…