I love horror films. I love to sit in a dark house all alone and watch movies that make me have to leave the lights on when I go to bed. I love a good scare. Tonight I watched a movie that no light could ever erase the terror of seeing it. I am forever changed by viewing it. What could be so frightening you ask? Was it a slasher movie or a ghost/zombie/vampire gore fest? Was it a movie based on a true story murder or abduction? Nay, nay, my friends it was much worse….it was a movie that will chill you to the bone, make you wish you could go back to the innocence you had before watching it. The scariest part of this movie is that this could happen to you, to me, to our loved ones. It happens to thousands of people every day….some of us may even think it is happening right now to a person we know….or even to ourselves….be afraid, readers, be very afraid.
The movie was made in 2006 and stars Julie Christie as a 60something woman who starts to lose her memory and the journey she takes in that process. What scares the bejeepers out of me is that I have walked that journey with a woman who began it in her mid-fifties. (The posts titled, “Oh Death Where is Thy Sting”, “The Empty Purse”, and “Bittersweet” are about her journey. Take the time to read them if you haven’t already. Some of us will be talking that road in the years to come.) What I saw could be my story or yours and it truly scares me. In my line of work I have intimate access to assisted living/nursing facilities and every time I go into one of these places, I pray, “Oh Lord, let me die before I have to go to a place like this”. Not that they are bad but I don’t want to end up old and alone and sharing a room with a stranger. Walking down the halls talking to myself (bad example as I already do this) or sitting in a chair with a blank look (ok, another bad example as I often walk into a room and have that look when I try to remember just what I came into the room for) or dropping food into my lap as I eat (ummmm, ya that’s happening now, too). Going to bed at 6:30pm not because I want to but because the staff has to get everyone to bed before their shift ends and there are only two people working a floor.
I could go on and on but if I do, you won’t be able to sleep tonight. I have seen movies like this before but never has one affected me so badly. Maybe because the main character reminded me so much of my friend. Smart, talented, beautiful, fit, educated, she had it all. I have it all. You have it all. We are no different from this character, from my friend. If it can happen to them, why not us?
Becoming feeble and dependent scares the crap out of me because unlike zombies eating me or men in hockey masks coming for me on Halloween, this is real. This might actually happen. And it could start anyday, maybe it already has. Maybe my “Senior moments” are really the start of this awful, awful journey. And it chills me to my very core to think about it. And nothing can stop it.
What I really found so disturbing in this movie was how the staff at the “home” was so unaware of the person each patient used to be. What ever distingushed us from one another was gone and they couldn’t even keep the residents from taking each other’s clothing and so they all ended up wearing each other’s clothes. They became a blended mass of broken humanity. It reminded me of a once vivid photograph that is left out in the sun and each day the brightness fades away until there is nothing left but a shadow. I don’t want to be a shadow. I don’t want to lose my vividness. My quirkiness. My uniqueness. What if my grandchildren never know how funky and eclectic I am. Who will color my hair purple and teal and blue? Will I be allowed my collection of mannequins and body parts? Who will remember the REAL ME? Who remembers the REAL people in all of those places? I want to be remembered as I AM, not as how I might end up.
Watch the movie if you dare. It’s called, “AWAY FROM HER”. But remember, you were warned……..