A few days ago, I decided to make a recipe that a Filipino friend in South Auckland had shared with me for Pacific Island Chop Suey. It is made with Vermicelli, Beef, Carrot, Cabbage, Garlic, Ginger, Onion and Soy Sauce. I added extra spice with a splash of Worcestershire Sauce and fried green chilli. It is normally served with white rice, but I also made a Chicken Curry to go with it. A truly international dish which seemed entirely appropriate given the New Zealand International Film Festival is on at the moment in Auckland.
There were quite a few movies I had wanted to see, but I wasn’t sure how many I could make the time for. Leafing through the Film Festival Brochure yesterday evening, I realised I had just enough time to make it to the the screening of Amour (Love), winner of the the Palme d’Or 2012 at Cannes.
It is a movie about love and death and old age. Anne and Georges are an elderly Parisian couple who are still very much in love. When Anne suffers a stroke, Georges takes care of her, but he too is feeble and struggles to provide the continuous care she needs especially when she loses most of her speech in a second stroke. The movie depicts the stark reality of Anne’s emotions at being so dependent on her husband and his emotions at having to watch her suffer, unable to make herself understood. Ultimately it drives him to take action and release her from her pain.
I explored the topic of “aloneness” in my last update. This movie leads me to explore the other side of it. What happens when you are not alone, but something happens to make you dependent on a loved one for your care. Everything from toileting to feeding and everything in between. Watching the movie, I thought to myself that I never want to be that helpless and dependent on anyone. But it is not like we have a choice. When something that debilitating does happen to us, it is usually without warning. At one point after her first stroke, Anne says to Georges that she does not want to go on and makes him promise not to send her into a hospital if things get too bad. Georges asks her to think what she would do if she was in his position. But Anne’s answer is that she is in a place that she cannot concern herself with such thinking. If you look at it from Georges’s point of view, he wants to find a way to ease her pain, but he has made a promise to her that he cannot break and he is left without many choices.
The scary thing is this reality is not limited to old age. Earlier yesterday I went to visit a family friend a few years younger than I, who is recovering from brain surgery. Having had to give up his job and a second baby who is just two weeks old, he was very frank about his circumstances and said his only saving grace was that they lived with extended family. If not for that, they would probably be out on the streets. He expressed his sadness at having to depend on his parents in their old age when he should have been taking care of them.
This led me to the realisation that while being alone and not having someone to rely on is bad; being helpless and dependent on loved ones is not that much better.