I think I have finally figured out why I dislike The Notebook. I know, GASP! Don’t kill me, K? Most of my friends love it because it’s a story of true love, standing strong until the end. The husband falls in love with his wife and fights for her, despite the fact that she’s marrying another man, and they live this love story. Even at the end, when she cannot remember who he is, he still comes and reads to her and reminds her of their life together. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that this is true love at it’s finest. It’s the kind of love I hope to have when I grow old. But this story, the tragic present that the old Noah and Allie live in, is not romantic. Yet somehow that’s what the movie has become. Some epically romantic movie of prevailing love.
Earlier this week my mother’s uncle Herman died very suddenly of a heart attack. He left his wife, Willy, who is nine years older than he was and is in very poor health. She can hardly see anymore and in recent years he had done everything for her. Grocery shopping, cleaning, all paperwork, money, everything. My grandparents, my mom, and I visited them a few years ago when I was in Holland, and I remember him even carefully helping her carry coffee into the living room, guiding her around furniture. Yes, it was overwhelmingly kind and touching that he was doing all this for her, that he was there for her through it all, but at the same time it was so incredibly sad and horrible.
The night Herman died, Willy sisters and brothers told my mother of a scene that I can’t quite shake. Willy sat in her chair in the living room, maybe the light was muted and dust floated in the air, much like it did the day we visited. Over and over she said, “how could he leave me? How could he?” She seemed utterly lost without him. Her brothers and sisters offered their houses, begged to stay and help her through the night, but she refused. She just wanted to sit in that chair, “I probably won’t even go to bed, I can’t sleep.”
If this was The Notebook, Willy’s story would be spun to look romantic. She spent her entire life loving him, he took care of her, now she’s pining away for his lost love. I just can’t see it that way. I just see an old woman, lost without her other half, who can’t even bring herself to move from her chair and go to bed, so she sits there, helplessly all through the night. How is there even a shred of romance in that? I know my grandparents and great aunts and uncles will take care of her. They’ll stay with her, they’ll eventually insist that she comes to stay with them, but right now I’m only sad for her.
That was quite a depressing post.