My father always appreciated good movies, much more so than my mother, as I remember. Going to the movies was a fairly regular event for “us four,” as far back as I can remember. On this particular occasion, I remember that shortly after we took our seats, two old women entered our row in the theater, and one almost sat on my brother, as she did not see him sitting there. Ryan leapt from his seat and spent the rest of the movie sitting on my mother’s lap. (In 1982, Ryan would have been eight years old, and I would have been eleven). He was rather upset at having been ejected from his seat, but soon enough all was well. The lights dimmed and the movie reels spilled out before us.
I love the movie for all of its greatness, and I am watching it at this very moment. But I loved the experience even more. There we were, the four of us, sitting happily in the movie theater, together, laughing (and getting teary-eyed) along with Fonda and Hepburn. Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) reminded all of us of my grandfather Jack (my father’s father), in all of his eccentricities and obsession with death.
None of knew, of course, that only eleven years later our family would dissolve in acrimony, bitterness and anger. Perhaps this is why I remember seeing “On Golden Pond” so vividly. In that dark theater “us four” were together and happy.
I know that many of us have similar memories of a time long gone, a misty past when all was right with the world.
I think it is these memories that sustain us.