Friday, March 23, 2012

Media image of widows

They say that man doesn't process the possibility of his own death. Not true. My brother died of glomerular nephritis at 30 when spaces on dialysis machines were rare and there was a rating scale used when a precious space became available. At the time I was 18 and was cut off by the telephone operator in the midst of all the phone calls that happen when the acceptances to colleges and universities arrive for the message saying to go to the hospital. My entire adult life, I was always aware of where I fit on the rating scale.
No, the possibility I had never processed was that I could outlive my husband. The collective unconscious hears the word widow and goes back to the beginning of time when life truly was over for a widow. The exploitation of widows and orphans was a huge theme in ancient texts.

So I've been watching movies for a better image. In "The Body", the widow is an archeologist. The church should be forever grateful that I didn't see Susan Sarandon as widow in "Elizabethtown" until yesterday. When Susan's husband dies, she has an enormous burst of energy and learns all kinds of skills that she'd always intended to learn. At the reception following her husband's funeral, she gives a speech about her crazy whirlwind of cooking and auto repair. Then she tap dances a song to express her love for her husband. I actually had a friend who learned to tap dance in her 70s. Pretty sure the sight of me tap dancing wouldn't be inspirational. But I do love dance. Saw a really great youtube video last night of Martha Graham dancing Lamentation Love to sing but don't have the voice. Love to dance but don't have the body. Love art but don't have perspective. Big plans for doing them all for my own enjoyment once I'm living in solitude.

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