Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How an episode of Family Ties brought me to tears today...

I have a random local access channel on my cable lineup that will sporadically show episodes of Family Ties during the day. Not all the time, but every now and then. I loved this show as a kid, and so when I see it's on, I watch it. I have no pride or shame when it comes to admitting my love for the 1980s. You should see what's in my Netflix queue. Pretty much everything that Nick-at-Nite USED to show before they got lazy and decided to show crap like Home Improvement and The George Lopez Show 24/7. But thanks to Netflix, I have insta-access to all my favorite cheesy TV shows. What shows did you all watch in the 80s? Some of my faves were The Facts of Life, The Cosby Show, 227, My Two Dads, Small Wonder, Gimme a Break, Alf, Silver Spoons, Growing Pains, Perfect Strangers, Who's the Boss, Head of the Class....I could just go on and on. Haha. The 70s had some decent shows too- WKRP in Cincinnati, Taxi, Too Close for Comfort, Knots Landing,Three's Company...wow, I watched a lot of TV as a kid.

Anyway, today's particular episode focused on a visiting family member (played by the lovely and talented Barbara Barrie), a great-aunt of Elyse's (this is how much I <3 the 80s... I even know that Elyse Keaton spelled her name with a "y" and not an "i"...), and she was becoming incredibly forgetful throughout the episode, and the Keatons take her to the doctor and she is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. At the end of the episode, Elyse and her aunt have a heart-to-heart about the diagnosis. Elyse is having difficulty coming to terms with the situation, and she says to her aunt, "I wish I could just put you in my arms and hold onto you tight and never let you go so this can't get to you," or something to that effect (I am paraphrasing here, clearly). But that line hit home for me, because I had the exact same thought just last night while I was writing in my journal (I keep a handwritten journal in addition to my blog). I was writing about my grandmother, and I wrote about how I wish I could just hug her and hold on and never let her go, and then she would never let me go either. I know that can't happen. I know I can't stop what's happening to her. But God, if only it were that simple... you know?

In the end they recited a family story together, and that's what eventually drove me to tears. The aunt was considered the "gatekeeper" of stories in her family, and I'd say that my grandmother is the gatekeeper of stories in ours. The one with all the pictures, the one with all the family stories. I think that takes an already difficult situation and elevates it to heartbreaking. It just breaks my heart to think that one day she's not going to remember any of it. Any of us. But I really am trying to keep that thought in the back of my mind, because if I don't live for the moment, and be with her now, in the present, and I'm always wondering and worrying about what's going to happen when she starts getting worse, then I'm losing precious time with her, I'm not truly appreciating the time that I have with her now. And if I do that, I'll feel an immense regret for the rest of my life. So I'm trying really hard not to do that. I think it was just that particular line in the show that got me, because I'd just thought the same exact thought myself just last night.

Those damn Keatons... they really know how to tug at my heartstrings.  :-)

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