How Does the Movie End?
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.
Never mind Cold Mountain. The characters in this tale are real and far more riveting than Nicole Kidman or Jude Law.
In my family history, there’s a story of a simple farmer, a husband and father who fought in the Civil War. When the war was over, he did not come home. Yet, his wife never gave up, even when years had passed.
She toiled in her dark little kitchen, positioning her work so she could look out the window and down the long dirt road that led to their humble dwelling. She ate her meals at the end of the table so that the view through the nearest window was always in the periphery of her vision. I don’t know if she carried any psychic ability, but for years after the war ended, she believed that one day he would return.
She went about her life with her children, working hard, fending off starvation, eking out a living in the Southern frontier. But she never lost faith. She could al- ways look up and see down that road, even if, for the time being, the road was empty. Even if years passed.
One day, she glanced up to see a stranger walking along the road toward her house. He was so emaciated by the war that she did not recognize the man she’d been waiting for. He’d come home to her. He’d walked 1000 miles and more to reach home. To reach her. He died 11 days later.
What strikes me so about this story is her unfailing faith in being reunited with her husband and his unfailing determination to make it back to her. This reunion was short-lived, yes, but how emotionally powerful!
It’s a scene at the end of many a movie. The protago- nists have gone their separate ways, through situations not of their own making or situations that force them to make choices that are fundamental to who they are. The movie is over. The audience accepts that moment when everything is resolved, including the relationship of the protagonists, and they have put honor or the good of others beyond themselves. They are sympathetic and commendable, even if they are alone.
The scene that keeps playing over and over in my head isn’t from a movie or from my family history, but it could be. There’s a woman, outside her home, doing her laundry, cleaning house. A light breeze and sunshine on her fresh linens hanging on the line. I see her from a dis- tance, then I am her. She goes about the mundane of her life, alone and productive. A little pensive, but not overtly sad. Any longings she has are hidden beneath her smile. But then she’s doing laundry and hears a sound on the wind and looks up. Then I’m no longer her but instead, a few feet away and looking at her, at the sun’s glow on her cheeks, the radiance of her face. The moment she realized that he’s back in her life.
Where I am in my life right now feels like fresh laun- dry, sunshine…and something moving on the wind.