A Celebration of Growing Up

International Day of Older Persons

International Day of Older Persons is real.  Just about 10 years ago in 1990 (because we all think that was just a decade ago, admit it), the UN General Assembly voted to institute this holiday to be observed on October 1st.  The holiday is celebrated by raising awareness about issues affecting the elderly, such as senescence and elder abuse. It has also become a day that we can appreciate the contributions that older people make to society.  As a lifelong movie and television buff, I know so many movies and shows that would not be complete without older characters portrayed by such phenomenal actors.

Ninny Threadgoode (Fried Green Tomatoes)
If you have never seen Fried Green Tomatoes but you’ve eaten them then shame on you!  That’s like taking communion from a crusty hooker in Las Vegas before skydiving over the Grand Canyon; it makes absolutely no sense at all!  The movie (and book by Fannie Flagg) is one I remember watching as just a wee child and it is one that stays with you forever.  Jessica Tandy is incredible in her role as Ninny Threadgoode opposite Kathy Bates in the nursing home.  She tells the most incredible stories, lets beauty school students dye her hair purple, and I just love the way she says “Whistlestop Cafe.”  Conspiracy theorists at work:  There has been a lot of speculation among viewers of the film about the final scene, in which it seems apparent that Ninny Threadgoode and Idgie are the same person.  I have always thought so, myself!

threadgoode

[insert brief intermission while I go watch Fried Green Tomatoes before coming back to this post]

Rose DeWitt Bukater (Titanic)
Or you can call her Rose Dawson if ya nasty!  Even though we are still furious at this woman for dropping the Heart of the Ocean necklace back into the open water, we can’t help but love her still.  Another master story-teller, Rose (portrayed by Gloria Stuart) as an older woman embodies so many things we want in a grandmother.  Her life didn’t end when the Titanic sank; it had just begun.  And enough is enough!  If Jack got on the driftwood they would have both died and she didn’t let go of him just… because she… let… go… of him… whatever. Rose, WE LOVE YOU!

rose

Dumbledore (Harry Potter series)
We all know and love Professor Dumbledore as the eccentric headmaster of Hogwarts.  It is his presence in the world of wizardry and his embodiment of the force for good that calls to us.  Now, I am only referring to Dumbledore from the first two movies as portrayed by Richard Harris.  He was kind and soft-spoken.  The second Dumbledore, or shall I say GRUMBLEdore, was an asshole!  Always yelling and being all creepy.

funny-Dumbledore-first-movie

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Opheila (How To Get Away With Murder)
Breaking away from movies, I want to look at Cicely Tyson’s role from the hit TV show How To Get Away With Murder.  She plays Annalise’s mom and in less than a minute of screen time, we know that she’s the real deal.  I am surprised she was not nominated for an Emmy for her brief role!  Ophelia knows how to deliver those smack-you-in-the-face blunt truths like no one’s business.  At the end of the episode, you realize her love for her daughter is in fact present and she did things for her that Annalise never knew at the time (“Sometimes you do what you gotta do, even if all you have is a long match and a very flammable hooch.”)  Watching her comb Annalise’s hair was so moving and I can’t imagine that scene without Cicely Tyson and Viola Davis.  Can you believe she is 90 years old?!

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Aunt Bethany (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)
Words cannot sum up the love for this woman!  She’s definitely getting up there and does not make a whole lot of sense, but you can absolutely tell she has a good, pure heart and that she wants to be there for her family.  She is the embodiment of “that family member” at all the holiday get-togethers.  From her jello mold to her cat wrapped in a box to her pre-dinner speech on Grace (the blessing, not her friend who passed away 30 years ago), Aunt Bethany is one for the history books!  Mae Questel does a great job in this role.  Did you know she is also the voice of Betty Boop?  Boop-boop-be-doop!

auntbethany

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Carl Fredricksen (Up)
This movie literally breaks my heart.  Well, at least the first few minutes.  During that brief time, we see the most emotionally moving and boldly brilliant four and a half minutes of animated movie-making ever.  Then we meet the real Carl:  grumpy, cranky, and old!

up

Daisy Werthan (Driving Miss Daisy)
So I kinda have a thing for Jessica Tandy’s acting skills.  And why shouldn’t I?  She snagged an Oscar for this one while the movie itself won Best Picture in 1990!  While winning four of its nine Oscar nominations, this is the turbulent story of the lifelong friendship that blossoms between an elderly Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn, in the 1960s South. Whoa.  That’s heavy!  This is yet another story that changes you and how you see the world.  From the first ride in the car to the nursing home at the end (bring Kleenex, omg), you can’t help by falling in love with Daisy and Hoke.

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Who are some of your favorite older characters in movies, television, or books?

I will leave you in peace with “Growing Up” brought to you by the Care Bears (of which I totally do not know every word to…):

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28 thoughts on “A Celebration of Growing Up

  1. I love all Jessica Tandy movies. And also I love Jessica Lange. I know she’s not really old but I maybe have a bit of an old lady crush on her thanks to American Horror Story. I hate the old Rose from Titanic she ruined the whole movie with her old gnarly feet and a little yelp. Bitch! Also, I am never getting old myself as my latest post shows lol

  2. I most definitely still want to believe that 1990 was 10 years ago (hah, if only).

    The first 10 minutes of Up made me want to cry. (Probably didn’t help that I’d just broken up with the person I thought I’d be spending my life with, but, y’know.) That’s still one of my favorite movies.

    I haven’t seen a lot of these (but I did see Titanic and some of the Harry Potter movies?!), so I’m uh, off to Netflix. ❤

  3. Haha I enjoy your humor and writing style. I loved Fried Green Tomatoes and of course Aunt Bethany, as a matter of fact when I was 18 I had a secret flask that I would refer to as Aunt Bethany so no one knew what I was referring to except my friends and older brother. Haha Also- nice Care Bear’s touch!

    • AH! That is the greatest flask in the history of the world! Thanks for the positive critique of humor and writing style – glad I could bring a smile to someone today! 🙂

    • Fredericksen just makes me smile – he makes me think of my own family. I had no idea about this holiday, either! There is pretty much a holiday or two every day it seems – just a matter of doing some research and finding out what those vague ones are!

    • I wish I knew Dumbledore! Not sure I want to be a student since they are always under attack, but I would love to mentor under him! Thanks 🙂

  4. You forgot to add Dame Maggie Smith to this list. She is absolutely brilliant! I adored her in the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” movies but also in Downtown Abby. She gets into her characters so well!

    • Ah! She is definitely one that needs to be on the list. Shamefully, I still have not seen Downton Abbey, but I love her in literally EVERY role she does. Thanks for the suggestion in case I do a sequel in the next holiday 🙂

  5. So many great films here and I like that you are celebrating the twilight years. So many of us including me fear growing older because it has become a stigma but films like UP are sad but it shows how you can still enjoy life even when the people you love have left this realm.

    • I agree – it’s scary to think about growing older but it’s inevitable. So we need to find ways to embrace and enjoy it instead of being riddled with anxiety and panic that it will happen.

  6. Thank you for your post. I take care of my 91 year old grandmother so I can relate and I’m sure she can as well. Unfortunately we all have to get older 😦

    • It’s so great that you both are able to be there for each other! But if we can learn anything from my list it is that getting older does not mean fading out of existence or relevance 🙂

  7. Oh my gosh! Im embarrassed to admit I had no idea about International Day of Older Persons!! Thanks for letting me know 🙂 x

  8. First, Rose *HAD* to send the heart necklace back to the ocean. That’s where her heart was–in the ocean with Jack. It’s where it belonged. Can’t help it. I’m a romantic. Love Ninny Threadgood (have you read the book?? Amazing!) and Dumbledore. The old guy from Up made me sad. Even seeing him makes me sad. Thanks for the walk down memory lave!

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