Sunday, May 31, 2009


I was on my way up the ramp to the movie theatre when Joe poked his head around and indicated for me to back up and go up the other side. Apparently, harumph, someone else in a wheelchair was in the space on that side of the theatre. It was a tight squeeze to back up and turn around but I managed. When I popped up on the other side I looked over to see who was in the spot I was originally headed towards. A woman of about 60 with a lovely blanket over her shoulder and another tucked over her legs sat looking entirely comfortably in her chair.

A few seconds later her husband arrived and fussed around placing snacks on a small tray attached to her chair. Then, and this is what got me, he gave her a peck on the cheek and headed up the stairs to a seat much further back in the theatre. I looked over at Joe, suddenly thankful that he was there seated right beside me. Now I have to admit that we have always sat up front in a theatre so when I started sitting in a chair there wasn't even a discussion about where we were going to sit. We made the adaption without even noticing, in fact until today, I didn't even think about it at all.

But there she sat all alone, tucked into her chair, slowly picking Milk Duds out of a box and slowly savouring them. Alone. All by herself.

Selfish Son of a Bitch! I ranted in my head against him up there in his precious seat where he wanted to sit. "I hope he enjoys the movie," I thought sarcastically to myself. And then, the movie began, inconvieniently ending my pre-movie show.

The movie is simply amazing. I was unprepared for it, entirely unprepared. The movie is at least in part about one half of a couple who has to go on alone after a lifetime of love and companionship. I didn't expect to be crying. I didn't expect to have all sorts of emotions running around on the rollercoaster between brain and heart. The movie is simply a wonderful work of art. Beautiful to see but even more beautiful to experience, to feel.

When it was all over I slipped out and down the ramp quickly, it's narrow and I wanted to be out before I had a line up of people behind me. I waited for Joe just outside the theater and then there they came. The couple from the other side of the theatre. After exiting the door, he fell into place beside her. He took one hand and she steered her chair with the other. They walked along pleasantly chatting with each other, she said something, he laughed and then reached up and wiped tears from his eyes. I knew what they were talking about. I knew what had been said.

I know that disability breaks up some relationships and that strenghtens others. I immediately repented for my quick judgement of how they managed together with each other. I'm glad that they could both go to a movie and both enjoy it. I'm glad they've worked out what works for them. I'm glad she still has him to love. I'm glad he still has her ...

And then Joe came through the door, and my heartrate went UP.


Belinda said...

This post made me think of something Paul said in a group lately, when we were talking about intimacy with God, and how it reflects human relationships. He said, "Sometimes I need to be close to Belinda, but sometimes I am happy just knowing she's in the next room." We can be separate and together all at the same time. I must admit that I would have found the scenario you described a bit of a surprise though. Part of the fun of a movie is nudging the person next to you and laughing or crying together, but you are right, we cannot judge another relationship.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I think it is just so sweet and romantic that, after all these years, your heart rate still goes up upon seeing Joe!

Andrea S.

ivanova said...

They sound like a very sweet couple. I love how you recognized that you could have been projecting your ideas on them. For all you know, they could have been sitting in different spots of the theater for forty years. And then maybe she recently became disabled and they didn't change their routine because she's still independent and he knows it. Or maybe she doesn't like to sit with him because he talks/snores/shuffles his feet/smacks his lips, but she loves him anyway. Or they run a business together and are with each other all day and they want a little time when they're not joined at the hip. Anyway, your story was a subtle parable about not making assumptions about other people and not pitying people who maybe we should be envying. Plus, your story shows how dreamy Joe is.

lina said...

I'm glad your post ended the way it did. I'm not sure I see the selfishness at all ...sorry. They both watched the movie, and I don't know that not watching it sitting next to eachother is all that terrible. Comments can be just as easily shared after a movie. (oh and can't wait to see that movie!).

Shan said...

Oh I just hate, hate going to a movie with someone. I want to be all alone so I can not ever think about whether they are enjoying the movie that I picked, or have to talk about it with them afterwards, or being nudged when something funny happens, or, worse, having them NOT GET IT when something funny happens......I started going by myself in university, and have never looked back.

All of which is a propos of nothing, of course.

Anonymous said...

I took Adam & his friend to see up yesterday & it was a packed house. There was nobody sitting in the spot reserved for wheelchairs, so the usher let me & the kids sit there, on the floor, together. We settled in to watch the movie.
I started crying almost as soon as the story began. It was such a tender love story. When he opened the adventure journal near the end, I sobbed again. Like you, I was not expecting all the emotional impact of this movie.

mom to Adam & his sisters.