I spent a significant portion of my New Year’s Eve at a nursing home not far from Temecula. If 12/31 is a day that lends itself to making one ponder the circle of life, spending it in a nursing home only increases such thoughts.
Last night, after the residents had been fed, (tuna salad sandwiches and chicken soup, which looked and sounded real good to me) the nurses gathered those able in the living room to watch That’s Entertainment! on television. I happened to walk in during a lavish Esther Williams swimming number.
“That’s Esther Williams, isn’t it?” I asked. A gentleman answered me, “Yes, I believe that is.” Some watched the screen transfixed, others stared into space. One woman, I’ll call her Missy, looked at me and told me that Esther Williams had been the best. I agreed. And then, I think, she told me that she’d been a swimmer herself. “Competitive,” I thought I heard her mumble.
The moment reminded me of my favorite scene from How to Make an American Quilt where the cantankerous Sophia, played by Lois Smith, at the end of the movie comes up to Winona Ryder’s character and girlishly confesses, “I was a diver.” And then even later, one of the last scenes (maybe it’s even the very last scene), we see 70-something Sophia climb the ladder of the high dive and sail into the water below.
Real life is often more heartbreaking than cinematic life. I could hope that Missy woke up this morning and went to swim a couple miles at Temecula County Pool, but I know that didn’t happen.
I hope that Missy had a good life. I hope she loved and was loved in return. I hope that the memories of good times are a comfort for her at this point in her life.
Who knows what 2014 holds for any of us? My wish for you is that it’s a year filled with good memories and I hope that those good memories are able to be a comfort to you in years to come.