The Oscars just wrapped up and I was reminded of my all time favorite movie…’On Golden Pond’ with Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda. If you’ve never seen it, I’d highly recommend it, a simplistic story about a family during a summer ‘On Golden Pond.’ Often times the Academy doesn’t vote for what popular culture likes, I think we saw that this year with the Blockbuster movie ‘American Sniper’ which made more money than all the other best pictures up for nomination combined. However, In 1981, I think the Academy got it right, when Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda went home with Oscars for best actress and best actor.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is a scene I just love! Henry, who plays Norman goes out to pick some strawberries, a place he has been a thousand times. Norman finds himself lost, age has fooled his mind so he panics, runs back to the house sweaty and confused. Ethel, played by Katherine, asks Norman “what happened” he explains, “I got lost” Ethel tells him, “we’ll go later and you’ll remember.” Ethel see’s that Norman is frustrated at his aging mind and body and she says to him in a gentle whisper; “you are my knight and shining armor and you are going to get back up on that horse, I’m going to hold on tight, and a way we are going to go, go, go!”
That line, that scene right there, even though all of the movie is fantastic, funny, endearing, holds great life lessons, is the scene that sealed the deal and no movie has ever topped it for me.
Amidst all life’s complications Norman and Ethel share a bond that I think every person hopes to find and admires. Some find their fairy tale romance and others search their whole life never to find it. I am one of those who has searched for that fairy tale and at 44, I believe I finally I have found it! But before I share how I came to this realization, you need to know a little about me.
I grew up without a father and when I found him at 37, I learned he was murdered when I was eight. My father lived a very luxurious life, while I lived in poverty. To make matters worse for me my father knew where my sister and I were until his death – a very tough pill to swallow. Compounding my issue, in regards to relationships with men, I was married for 17 years to a man who was both verbally and physically abusive. After my divorce, I had a few short-term relationships with men who let’s say, didn’t have my best interest in mind.
For almost two years now I have been in a relationship with a very ‘normal’ guy. Born and raised in rural Nebraska. Gentle, patient, smart, handsome; all the qualities you would want in a man. When we met, we were great, I mean we had a connection that is rare to find but that connection started to get ‘muddy’. Expectations have a not so funny way of turning a good thing into, what the heck happen, quick! With us, there has been a push and pull over the last several months; I love you but want this…this…and that! My thought was “if you love me, aren’t I worth changing those things?” We currently have chose to step back and evaluate for ourselves what it would take to move forward.
I have given thoughtful consideration to my current relationship and began to question a few things about how I see what I want in a relationship.
Culture tells us to demand the best for ourselves when it comes to relationships, but is that thinking right? I have come to realize that rather than expecting the best for ourselves we should expect the best of ourselves, a quality I admire in the characters of Norman and Ethel. Far from a perfect couple, Norman was cranky, a little selfish, brutally honest and Ethel didn’t see that not everyone shared her blissful view on life. You know what was perfect about them? They took each other ‘as is, where is.’
As I’ve pondered my own relationship that has been put on pause, I thought “that is too easy” can everything be miraculously changed by a simple choice to love someone ‘as is, where is?’ So, I wrote a list of pros and cons about the man I hold dear for my own evaluation. The pro’s out weighed the cons but the real table turner was I too have a list of shortcomings! I stepped back and wondered, “Is it fair to expect another to love me with all my flaws yet, ask him to earn his?”
I believe the resounding answer for any reasonable person is NO!!!
I then realized that my list, my expectations that weren’t met were quite petty and I began to regret how I have dealt with that pettiness – actions and words I can’t take back. However, what I can change is demanding the best of myself and in doing that, I would take him, all of him, ‘as is’ just like I do for my friends, because that is what mature people do. So why haven’t I done that for him? The only answer I know is I believed a wrong perspective and I did the best I could do in the moment with all my flawed humanness.
I don’t know what will come of my relationship but I have learned that if you are lucky enough to find that special someone, THAT… in and of it’s self, is a gift! If that relationship makes you want to be a better person, it’s worth keeping! That fairy tales are reserved for those who make that rare choice to accept that special someone ‘as is’…all of them, without wavering. My whole life I hoped to find ‘that man’ that ‘Knight in shining armor’ and I believe he has come. However, my behaviors and lack of understanding myself muddied up this nice man’s white horse. I wish I could take some dawn soap and a huge hose and clean it off. I wish and regret many things. All I can do now is move ahead, thankful for the gift his life gave, no matter what he chooses. The fairy tale I hoped for but seemed ever so elusive, is available for me…for you. We can choose to have a relationship to be admired just like Ethel and Norman in the movie, ‘On Golden Pond.’