I’m still considering the topic from my last post; this time the catalyst was hearing about the passing of my friend and former Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, Mike Tuggle. His poem, “The Question,” which follows my film recommendations, was eerily prescient, joyfully so, in fact. When Mike failed to show up for a Father’s Day dinner, family members reported discovering him “lying on his couch with an incredibly peaceful, profound look on his face.” I certainly wish for an ending such as his: “after spending a very full day, like his Sagittarius nature loved.”
These films, some easy to find and others older and rare, deal with a dignified and respectful death in various ways; the first two contain LOL comic moments.
The Farewell Party (2015). Quoted from rogerebert.com: “A bittersweet tragicomedy about a very thorny issue, assisted suicide, and the right to die.” Directed by Sharon Maymon, Tal Granit.
Departures [Okuribito] (2007) Winner of Best Foreign Film Oscar. About an out-of-work cellist who accepts a job as a “Nokanashi”—the Japanese equivalent of an undertaker. Brilliant, moving, educational, and at times, hilarious.
The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012) A best foreign film nominee. I gave this love story 5 stars, for its music, playfulness and the ending. Directed by Felix van Groeningen.
The Barbarian Invasians (2003) Canadian. This film and the next are about how a family comes together around a dying parent. Both are classic, perhaps controversial, and blessedly NOT sentimental.
Two Weeks (2006) Sally Field is brilliant in this!
Million Dollar Baby (2004) Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring him and Hillary Swank.
It’s My Party (1996) starring Eric Roberts. Radical for its time, but has served as a model for real people suffering from terminal illness who have thrown a “living memorial” for themselves and then quietly and privately ended their lives. It’s My Party is more than 20 years old and I still feel affected by it. Joe Kaminski of Joe Video has pulled it out of obscurity for me. Thanks, Joe, for adding one more to my list—a 2012 film, Beginners, with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer.
by Mike Tuggle
How do you want to die, Buppa?
my four-year-old granddaughter asked me.
Well I don’t want to die, I told her,
but I guess I will one day.
So how do you want to when you do?
I was lying back on the sofa
and she was rubbing my feet with lotion.
I didn’t have to consider long
as I watched her strong, chubby fingers
squeezing my toes, the question still
hovering between us.
Like his, I told her.
Just like this.
NOTE: Tess Lorraine, a facilitator for Death Cafe Sonoma County, will be interviewed on local radio station KOWS (92.5 FM) Friday, July 7, 5:30-6:00.