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.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

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.