“Life’s A Breeze”
A freewheeling Irish family in
Dublin, a widowed Grandma, Nan (Fionnula Flanagan) who’s pushing 80, adult
children who aren’t quite grown up, some grandchildren who are just brats,
but one special one, Emma (Kelly Thornton), a quiet teenager who just loves
her Grams, and believes what she says, even if the rest of the family is
starting to call her senile.
And not even behind her back anymore.
is a classic pack rat in a big, rambling house where every nook and cranny
is filled with a seemingly haphazard collection of junk, memorabilia,
knitting supplies, old calendars, and all manner of outdated appliances.
doesn’t mind; she’s comfortable there.
But her well-meaning family decides to enlist
Emma to get
out of the house for a day, so they can all helpfully clean
the place up for her. Throw
all that old junk out.
Make it clean and sparkling and bright and
cheery and airy and….completely unrecognizable to poor old
lays the bombshell. That old mattress, which they
unceremoniously threw out?
She’d been saving money in it for years.
Almost a million Euros, in fact.
At first, they laughed at her.
Then, when they realized she was serious, they
were stunned. Then,
they go on a frantic search through landfills, but somehow word leaks out,
and now the whole countryside is digging through landfills, until finally
someone finds an old mattress with $600 in it, and everybody assumes ol’
Granny was just mixed up.
And her family is now the laughingstock of the
even, is the butt of jokes from her classmates in school.
isn’t through with her quest for the missing mattress.
She enlists Emma to continue searching, just
themselves now, no circus of greedy strangers accompanying them.
On the way, on the bus and sitting quietly out
in the country, they talk about stuff.
Emma is fascinated with the idea of the
afterlife, and asks
She isn’t really religious, and,
interestingly, Heaven is never mentioned.
But reincarnation is.
And Hell, which
says was living with her worthless grown son, who’s also
greedy and gullible. It
was supposed to be caustically funny (and Nan is not above playing the
trickster herself), when the whole family deludes him into thinking he has
the winning lottery ticket, when in fact they’re all watching the winning
number announcement from the week before.
They’re not above being mean to each other in
the name of a “practical joke.”
Nan is even mean to Emma once, when Emma first
expresses some doubt about
’s memory of exactly what was in the mattress.
Yes, all the familiar family
dynamics are present: sibling
rivalry, underachieving lovable losers, successful arrogant jerks,
exasperation with everyone, by turn, and yet a sense of belonging that
can’t be bought. Not
even with a million Euros.
Do you think the family would be
better off with or without the money?
Would they think more or less of Granny if they
discovered that she was, in fact, hiding her big stash from all of them?
There are some real poignant
moments here, when Nan tells Emma about the time she was on her honeymoon
and felt so in love, and also when Nan Tells Emma that she likes the way
she’s growing up, and is going to miss seeing her in full blossom, like
having to leave the party, she says, just when it was getting to be fun.
Now there’s an epitaph that many of us
pushing-dotage grandparents can understand.
Because none of us knows the day or hour, do
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister,
St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,