Letting our children go is something that just doesn’t come naturally, no matter how well adjusted a family might be, or how perfectly mapped out the futures of our offspring might appear. I just finished watching an excellent movie called Winter Solstice, a 2004 release, starring Anthony Lapaglia, which dealt admirably with this topic, without drawing any conclusions or making any judgements about how the inevitable division should occur.
The father, Jim Winter (Lapaglia) and his two teenage sons, Pete and Gabe, are trying to make the best of things, five years after their wife/mother was killed in an auto accident. The focus of the film is the relationship between the father and his sons, both of whom are struggling with the death of their mom, and their individual futures. Toward the end of the movie, the older son, Gabe, announces his intention to leave the family home in New Jersey, and move to Florida. Jim Winter is not very happy with his son’s decision, and there is an emotional scene, in which the father and son basically go at one another, up close, face-to-face, screaming and shouting at each other. The scenario was painfully reminiscent of a similar scene involving my father and me, many, many years ago, when I announced that I was leaving home. Suffice it to say that I left, and the relationship suffered a temporary interruption, but eventually resumed satisfactorily, albeit on a different level—a more adult one.
It’s generally accepted that men don’t communicate emotions well, especially when it comes to revealing feelings of love for one another. This is especially true when it comes to fathers and sons (I can’t speak to relationships between mothers and daughters, although it has been my observation that theirs is a different kind of interaction, more in line with sisterhood). Ironically, my dad was quite open with his love, and I never had any doubt about his feelings for me. Our difficulty arose from his inability to relinquish control, which I imagine, for his generation, was something that was quite common. In many ways, my generation (quasi-baby boomer; I was born in 1945) is the first “modern” generation that truly left the nest, both emotionally and physically. The extended family that previous generations experienced, where most everyone lived within an hour’s drive from one another, is a fast-fading memory. It highly unlikely that we will ever see that type of familial concentration again, and that is a shame. But, as the handlebar-moustachioed stranger in The Big Lebowski said, “. . . aw, look at me, I’m ramblin’ again.”
Anyway, check out Winter Solstice, and see if it doesn’t resurrect some thoughts about your own leaving home (maybe you’ll share some of them with us). I think perhaps it might, and I think you’ll enjoy the flick! Note: It’s available for streaming on Netflix (and, I’m guessing, elsewhere).