Do You Remember?

Sometime in January, Netflix is scheduled to begin streaming the sixth season of  Grace and Frankiethe wonderful comedy about two aging women whose husbands leave them for each other. While their husbands’ marriage to one another is certainly a part of the show’s narrative, it isn’t the driving story line. Instead, the program looks at two women facing the problems of aging.  Frankie and Grace stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and they play their respective parts spectacularly. It is fun to watch them struggle with technology and their frustrations about their grown children and real-life problems like not being able to walk fast enough across a street to beat the light before it changes.

It makes me happy to see that television might — just MIGHT — be starting to realize that Baby Boomers are aging, and if we can’t laugh about that fact, we will live our golden years mighty depressed.

Another Netflix program that deals with aging is The Kominsky Methodstarring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin.  The Kominsky Method also looks at aging, but from a man’s perspective. Douglas plays Sandy Kominsky, a failed actor who now runs a respected acting school. Alan Arkin plays Norman Newlander, a successful agent who not only represented Sandy Kominsky, but is his best friend. The writing is very funny, and the situations the two men face — just like in Grace and Frankie — are realistic. Things like death of friends and loved ones, prostate issues, sex when you’re a senior citizen are all dealt with in a funny and way that hits home.

In the first episode of Season 2, the two men are driving in the car. Out of the blue, Norman asks Sandy, “Do you ever forget words?” Sandy agrees and tells a funny story of a situation in which he forgot a word. Throughout the rest of that episode, the men keep forgetting words.

Perhaps I find this especially funny because I am the Queen of Forgetting Words. I recently texted my son to ask him: What’s the word that means a team that was expected to lose actually wins? A few minutes or so later, my phone dings. Upset? Court asks me.

THAT’S IT!

I’m pretty sure the reason it took so long for him to respond was because he took the time to look up nearby Memory Care facilities.

The other day Bec was visiting. The two of us sat out on our patio, each with a glass of wine (which Court would probably think I don’t really need). We talked about a variety of things from movies we liked to our favorite actors and so on. But much of our conversation consisted of both of us trying to come up with someone or something’s name. She couldn’t remember the name of one of her favorite Christmas movies (Deck the Halls). I couldn’t remember the name of one of my favorite Christmas movies (Love, Actually). Meg Ryan’s name escaped me. At one point, Bec and I were laughing so hard at ourselves, we were crying. “We need to use a sentence that has a direct object,” I said through my tears of laughter.

One of the critics from Rotten Tomatoes gave The Kominsky Method a pretty good review: Full of humor and heart, The Kominsky Method paints a surprisingly poignant — if a little paint-by-numbers — portrait of life and aging, elevated by two top-notch performances by legends Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas.

Can I just explain to this reviewer (who is probably 34 years old) that there is really no “paint-by-numbers” about their situation. That’s called Real Life.

And that’s why our children are already looking for rooms that will work for three…..

Love in the Twilight

You’re born, and then the first 25 years or so of your life seem to take forever. Particularly in elementary school and high school, you can’t wait to get old so that you can do All Those Things. You can’t wait to have a car. You can’t wait to get a great job and earn lots of money. You can’t wait to get married to the perfect person and have those perfect kids.

But from about 25 years old and beyond, life seems to move quickly. You’re busy with raising your family. You’re trying to balance your family life and your professional life. You’re running to and fro to soccer games and school plays and making sure homework gets done while trying to get a few bites of healthy food into your kids’ mouths. And before you know it, your kids are grown and don’t live with you any longer and work no longer seems as interesting as it once did. And then you retire, and though you might not have as much to do, it seems like the weeks just fly by. Tick tock, tick tock.

Wow, the above two paragraphs sound very maudlin, don’t they? I don’t mean that to be the case, because I’m happily retired and love my life very much. But it really does seem like time moves quickly.

I’m not just being a flibbertygibbit; I’m just about to get to my point: the other day, Netflix sent me an email in which they told me about a newly-posted movie that they think I might like. They do this quite often, and most of the time I wonder why in heaven’s name they would think that I might like a movie featuring Bruce Willis as an alien space commander in the year 2080.

But the movie they suggested this time was Our Souls at Night, a brand new Netflix original film. Hmmm, I thought to myself. Why does that name sound familiar? And as I read the synopsis, it occurred to me. Our Souls at Night was the last book written by the late author Kent Haruf, published posthumously in 2015 and reviewed by this writer in July 2015.

Kent Haruf is one of my very favorite writers, and his novel Plainsong is one of my two favorite novels of all time (the other being My Antonia, by Willa Cather).

The movie stars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, who play Louis Waters and Addie Moore. The two septuagenarians live in the fictitious town of Holt, Colorado (allegedly modeled after real-life Yuma, on Colorado’s eastern plains). Louis and Addie are widowed, and lonely. They have both experienced tragedy, and now are just living day-to-day. Time is rushing by, just as I mentioned above. One day Addie gets up the nerve to ask Louis if he would spend the night with her, just talking and platonically sleeping together. He agrees, and a beautiful story emerges. The movie hit home for me so much that I wondered if the movie-maker was peering into my windows.

Life after 60 is entirely different than life as a young adult. The issues you face aren’t getting kids to soccer practice. Instead, many people fight loneliness and chronic pain and kids who are so focused on their life that they quit being curious about yours. Some might struggle with memory issues. Maybe macular degeneration or cataracts are giving you fits.

The movie does a wonderful job of presenting the realities of relationships in your twilight years, so very different from those in your more youthful life. It hits on friendship instead of sex, and the important role of grandparents in the lives of their grandkids. It reminds us of what life was like before we all were staring at our electronic devices. It winks at small-town gossipers.

And wow, what a job by these two amazing actors. Redford is 81 years old and Fonda will turn 80 on her next birthday, but they haven’t lost any of their acting chops……

The movie doesn’t glamorize growing old by making Fonda look va va va voom. She looks like a senior citizen, albeit quite an attractive one. Redford’s portrayal of Louis reminded me of my father.

All I can say is thank you Netflix, both for making this movie and for suggesting it to me. Now stop with the Bruce Willis stuff.