Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday. Or it would have been, had she not died 16 years ago. 16 years! My mind boggles at the idea… and I’ve asked my siblings if they feel the same way, if they can imagine Joy as a cranky old lady. It makes me smile, actually, to think of her as a kind of life-size version of ‘Maxine’ of Hallmark Cards fame, with lots and lots of martinis and seafood dishes standing by for sustenance.
I bring this up because I want to share a movie with you called “The Way”. It’s written & directed by Emilio Estevez specifically for his father, Martin Sheen. Full disclosure: I adore Martin Sheen in what might be a somewhat obsessive fashion. Not that I’m a danger to him, but I would need to wear a bib while around his physical presence because of the drooling, caused by a severe inability to form full sentences. Also: my husband had lunch with Martin Sheen while he was part of the making of “The Final Countdown” aboard the USS Nimitz. Mano a mano… and there was no drool involved.
You don’t need a(nother) review of “The Way” – you just need to know why you should see it. I’ve already explained the first reason (see: Martin Sheen). The second reason is that it’s wonderful, and all without a CGI gimmick or whiz bang in sight or sound. It’s warm and comforting and thoughtful and demanding. It’s about fathers and sons (although it could be just as easily about mothers and daughters in many ways), and finding your way to a real relationship with family and friends.
The journey in this instance is a long one, a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago (a trek an Anglican priest friend of mine took several years ago, which he called a body killer and a soul reviver!). It could have been any journey – a canoe trip through northern Ontario, a series of glider trips down the east coast of North America, biking through the Ardennes – but the symbolism of this particular journey being taken by a man who, in real life, has had his own fights with faith, is deeply moving.
You absolutely do not have to be a person of faith or religion to appreciate “The Way”. I am not. To the despair of my husband sometimes, I’m sure, I am much more skeptical than I am spiritual, but that in no way diminished the value or effect of what I saw. To me, the more important part of this movie was about the human relationships – the father & son who were so far apart and yet somehow, after death, managed to become closer, you just know it. And it’s about the friends collected along the way who also affect his life. And isn’t that true for all of us? Don’t our friends change our lives somehow? Their trajectory intersects with ours and so often make us go off in a different direction than we thought we were headed. Often to the good but still… quite remarkable and yet, not often remarked upon.
So what I’m saying is, pick up a copy of “The Way”, make up a plate of cookies and a nice pot of coffee, maybe pour a little Grand Marnier (or if you have access to Emilio’s wine, open up a bottle of that), and sit down with a friend or two and watch a movie that will make you want to hug your friends and kiss your family, and wish for one more day that you had your mother, or your father, or both….
And if you do still have them… for goodness’ sake, call them and say “I love you”. And maybe talk about a road trip….