Movie Night

This post comes from a weekly memoir writing prompt provided by The Red Dress Club.

This week’s memoir writing prompt by The Red Dress Club, asked us to fill in the blanks:

The first time I ______________-ed after ____________________-ing.

Every Saturday night after my mother died, my husband and I took my dad to the movies.  I think it started with my father singing the tune, “Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week.”  How do you leave him alone after that?  Though it was our treat, my father always insisted on buying me the popcorn, just like he did when I was little.  And, just like when I was little, he’d grab my hand if the movie was a scary one.

It didn’t matter what was playing at the theater.  It could be a nail-biter or a snoozer, but Saturday night at the movies became sacred for the three of us.  If we visited our sons at the University of Texas in Austin, then we’d see a matinee so we could get back to San Antonio at a decent hour.  My husband would pay for popcorn and soda for the boys, but my dad  bought mine, as usual.

One afternoon at the movies was memorable in how awful the movie was.  Our sons had suggested we all go and see “Magnolia,” a film that got rave reviews from the critics (not always a good sign).  The language and subject matter were awful, including drugs, suicide, graphic sex (if I remember correctly, because my eyes were closed part of the time), and, to make matters worse, it was one of the longest movies I’ve ever sat through.  When we finally emerged into the twilight after three hours of torture, my youngest son said, “You know the only thing worse than watching that film with your mother next to you is having your grandfather sitting on the other side.”  My father cracked up.

When my father died, I couldn’t bring myself to go to the movies anymore.  How could I sit in the theater without my father beside me?  Both my husband and I missed our Saturday nights with him, and Saturday nights indeed became one of the loneliest nights of the week.  Then, after a few months, my husband said, “Let’s go to the movies tonight.  Dad wouldn’t want us to give that up.”  Reluctantly, I went with him, bringing a wad of tissues with me.  As the lights dimmed and the opening credits started, I looked to my left where my father always sat.  The tears came, but it felt right being there.  And then my sweetheart passed me a bag of popcorn and said, “I’ll buy you popcorn from now on.”

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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54 Responses to Movie Night

  1. Oh, that’s so sad and sweet and wonderful. (And I hated Magnolia, too – what the heck?) I’m lucky to still have both my parents, but I know it’s going to be so tough when they are gone.

  2. Galit Breen says:

    Oh am I ever teary right now! This is such a lovely memory, tradition, act of love. Beautiful snippets, lovingly told. Seriously -wow- such an overwhelming amount of love!

  3. Judith says:

    Oh Susan, another lovely memory. And we do need them all.
    Although we lived on opposite sides of this world, my father was still a force in my life. He was the one who set me on my path telling his three daughters we could be and do anything we wanted to. And my memories of the movies with my father – Friday nights when we were all at home and young the family would go to the movies together. It was a ritual and a treat. I still remember all these years later my father holding my hand when I was scared by the witch in the Wizard of Oz. Somewhere over the Rainbow always reminds me of my dad.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Judith:)

    • comingeast says:

      I love that we share similar memories. My dad loved sci fi movies, and so did I, even though they always scared me. He had to hold my hand a lot! Thanks, Judith.

  4. Frume Sarah says:

    Continuing the tradition is such a wonderful way to honour his memory.

  5. Oh wow, I have goosebumps right now! It’s a really nice story and sometimes I wish I would have such “traditions” with somebody I love…. And I guess I have, but it’s difficult to regocnize them (if they’re not as obvious as your movie night) until that loved one isn’t there anymore.

    • comingeast says:

      I think my husband and I recognized how special our “Dad time” was while we had it. We loved my mom, too, but my mom and dad were so devoted to each other, they didn’t spend a lot of time with us individually. So when Mom died and dad was left alone, we really got to enjoy him deeply. It was sad and wonderful at the same time. We made that movie tradition, so you should start a tradition all your own. Thanks for your comment. Love the title of your blog!

  6. lexy3587 says:

    such a sweet story

  7. Keep that tradition alive! So hard not to be sad sometimes in missing your parents, no matter how long ago they left us. But for me, what keeps my chin up is that I know my dad is still around me, I just have to pay attention and believe. I’ve no doubt your father is right there with you at the movies, still holding your hand. Thanks for such a lovely post.

  8. Leah says:

    What a touching post! Thank you for sharing this wonderful tradition and memory of you and your father. And I hated Magnolia too!

  9. angela says:

    This made me tear up. Your dad sounds lovely. I like the detail about him not only buying your popcorn but holding your hand.

    And I’ve seen Magnolia. I have to say I’m glad I didn’t watch it with my dad 🙂 Your son’s comment made me giggle.

    • comingeast says:

      Glad you saw Magnolia so you really understand our discomfort watching it with Dad. I think my dad actually got a kick out of our discomfort. Yes, Dad was such an endearing man and quite a character. Thanks, Angela.

  10. dana says:

    Cry! Cry! Cry! When I read this:”my father always insisted on buying me the popcorn, just like he did when I was little. And, just like when I was little, he’d grab my hand if the movie was a scary one.” I just can’t hold back my tears.

    My father died when I was four, to be honest, I could not remember his face if without that old black-and-white photo. I finally, after getting married with my husband who is 15 years older than me, realized that my sense of insecurity might partly originated from the absence of father, and the other part of reason might be living my childhood away from my mom. Now as a 33-year old mom of 2 lovely girls, I often remind myself that I have grown up and should not indulge in the pain of the past and should not be seized by fragility. I tried to see this grown-up me as a mom of that past little lonely girl who is still living deep in my heart, I tried to take good care of her and make her grow stronger in mind , tried to help her get rid of the sense of insecurity. Most of the time, I make it! But in some occasion, the weakness will strike me again, just like now.

    I enjoy reading your stories and it portrays sweet and touching moments which inspire me a lot. Thank you and best wishes!

    • comingeast says:

      I feel for you, Dana, and wish you had a blog so I could visit you on yours. Your job is to be the mom to your sweet girls that you never really had. I think our fathers make us feel safe, and you didn’t have that safe feeling because you lost your dad so early. Stay strong, my friend!

      • dana says:

        Oh, I do have a blog, but I am afraid you can’t read it because it is not in your language. I hope that one day I can master English well enough to write my blog in it. Thank you for your encouragement!

      • comingeast says:

        That fascinates me that you could find my blog and read it. Was it translated into your language? Do you read English but not speak it? Blogging is truly international!

      • dana says:

        Oh, you are right, I don’t speak English, but I read.
        I very much want to know how people live their lifes in different places around the world and I roam about on the net, try to know more. On the day your post was “freshly pressed”, I was led here to your blog. Thank you for your heartwarming stories, through theses stories I got to know an elegant lady who is expressing love and giving, it is great! Wishes for you from thousands of miles away!

      • comingeast says:

        What a wonderful, sweet comment! Thank you, Dana. Wish I spoke your language. The only other language I know is Spanish, and I’m not very good at it anymore since we moved away from San Antonio, Texas. I know a little German because my father used to tell us what he called “Fractured Fairy Tales” using English with a little German thrown in, his brand of German! Thanks for your visit.

  11. Tracie says:

    I am crying so much reading this!!

    I’m glad that your husband helped you to keep this tradition alive. I’m sure that is exactly what your dad would want.

  12. So, so sweet. And again, your gentle humor is so well done. Loved your son’s comment about going with Grandpa to the movies.

  13. Did this memory strike you as soon as you saw the prompt? It seems so perfect, and very well written.

    I had a similar problem for a while when I didn’t want to go to church because it reminded me of someone I’d lost, but like you, I eventually went back.

    My favorite line is from your son “You know the only thing worse than watching that film with your mother next to you is having your grandfather sitting on the other side.” LOL!

    • comingeast says:

      Yes, our movie nights with Dad was the first thing I thought about when I read that prompt, but I forgot all about writing it until I happened to read my daughter’s post on that prompt (My Pajama Days) and remembered I wanted to write about that. I don’t know why none of us in Austin that day watching Magnolia didn’t just get up and walk out. None of us could stand that picture, but we stayed to the bitter end. I think we kept thinking, Surely this has to get better! It never did. Oh, the frogs raining from the sky towards the end was sort of enjoyable.

  14. So sweet. I lost my Dad two years ago and I find myself thinking, “I need to call Dad today” or “Dad will get a kick out of this story.” He was my hubby and my last living parent and we both miss him tremendously. Your lovely post today reminded me how much I cherish my memories of him. Thanks!

  15. E.C. says:

    Sweet memories like this are true treasures. 🙂

    • comingeast says:

      Thanks, E.C. They truly are.

    • LOL Glad you knew what I meant, but thought some reader may get the wrong idea! :-O We were blessed to have amazing Dads, weren’t we? I’m coming up on the 2-yr mark since Dad died and I know exactly what you mean. The hard part for me was losing Dad and then having my last child – well, he’s an adult – graduate from college and move to another state to begin his career, totally leaving hubby and me with a completely empty nest. Double whammy! But each day gets better. 🙂

      • comingeast says:

        Oh, my, I can sympathize with you! After Dad died, the last child within 80 miles of us (he was in Austin, we in San Antonio) moved to Boston to go to law school and stayed there after he graduated. Our other son lives there, and our daughter (My Pajama Days) lives in Michigan. We were so lonely, I became my husband’s headhunter and found a job for him here in Virginia, so much closer to our children and only two hours from my brother. I hope your children aren’t all too far away.

  16. My heart broke as I read this because when I lost my dad I still miss the talks we had every morning. It’s hard seeing his chair empty and holidays were especially hard for a long while. So glad you began to go to the movies again. You never stop missing them do you?

    • comingeast says:

      Oh, my, no, Julie. So many times I’ll see something or read something and think, I need to tell Dad this, and then I’ll remember I can’t. It’s just that split second that I forget, and the remembering hurts all over again. Mom has been gone for 17 years (she was 68, only six years older than I am) and Dad’s been gone for nearly six. Still hurts. Always will. I know you understand, my friend.

  17. This was incredibly sweet. And I loved the ending!

  18. This made me cry. What a lovely family you have been blessed with.

  19. huffygirl says:

    This made tears come to my eyes. I’m finding out that our parental memories can be bittersweet. So nice to continue your movie tradition, yet so hard to do it without your dad. Sounds like your husband is a wise man, taking your old tradtion and making it new.

    • comingeast says:

      My husband and I have just one parent left between us, his mom. We call her every Sunday, without fail, and try to drive up to see her whenever we can, even though it is a nine-hour drive. She’ll be 85 this year, but she’s still going strong. You feel like an orphan when you’re parents gone, no matter how old you are when you lose them. Thanks for commenting, HG.

  20. Wanda says:

    What a nice, heart-warming remembrance. I’m so glad your husband encouraged you to continue the tradition, even though it brought back so many bittersweet memories.

  21. mypajamadays says:

    I LOVE this – and it made me tear up too. Papa would have wanted you to keep going to the movies.

  22. Patti Ross says:

    Thanks for sharing. I was just checking email and yours popped in. What a delghtful memory for you and your family. I have always believed in the power of daily rituals, in part becuase they help creat memory.

    • comingeast says:

      And what wonderful memories we had of those movie nights. They actually started with us going to Dad’s for a dinner he would cook, or we’d take him out for a hamburger or a pizza. We looked forward to those nights as much as he did.

  23. Oy… the tears welled up on that one. What a sweet tradition to continue.

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