Today…

somehow i can think of nothing much to say at the end of today… i sit here… tears in my eyes and a smile on my face…basically as i have spent most of the day… only now at home with a glass of wine… having just watched the ending scenes of the wonderful film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”…

for those of you who’ve not had the pleasure of seeing this film, a bit of trivia… it is Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn’s last film together… Tracy died 2 weeks after the filming ended… the ingenue character of Joey was played by Hepburn’s biological niece (a less than medicore actress), her namesake, Katharine Houghton…

The story centres around the engagement of Joey, Tracy/Hepburn’s daughter, to a young African American doctor named John, brilliantly played by Sidney Poitier. 

In short, it is the mid 1960’s and the very caucasian Joey’s ultra liberal parents are put to the test when she announces that she has recently met and plans to marry John and that his parents are arriving for dinner that night.

I won’t tell the rest in case you’ve not seen it — because you must.  Spencer Tracy’s final soliloquoy alone is priceless and Sidney Poitier’s powerful subtlety is absolutely matchless.

That said, one scene stood out to me tonight. Poitier’s character — in his early 30’s — is confronted by his father, a mailman who “carried that bag a million miles” to give Poitier the chance to become the doctor that he is. The father now sees his son as spitting in the face of all that’s been done for him by planning to marry a Caucasian woman. Poitier’s character responds by telling his father that the difference between them is that, “Dad — you see yourself as a ‘Coloured Man’… I see myself as a ‘Man’.”

Watching, i thought… Poitier’s character would have been just about the age of Barack Obama’s father… and my own… (Obama and I are the same age) — at that period of time… and the character of his father would have been about the age of the man i watched die today…

a tall, regal, handsome African American man… aged 86 (would have been next month)… whose one hand in death still swallowed both of mine. As i stood there beside his bed… holding his daughter (old enough to be my mother) in my arms, I looked out the window and thought, “What a day to die”… and, without realizing it, said so aloud… his daughter raised her head and looked out the window too… the West Texas sun was shining spring-warm on this January afternoon and the day’s earlier winds had calmed to the slightest breeze…

“Yes”, she said and leaned against my hip as I bent to kiss her head.

“Did he know?” I asked. “Before he lost consciousness? Did he know?”

Without explanation, she understood. “I’m not sure,” she responded. “I think so. I left the ceremony playing low on the television…”

“Then he knew,” I said.

“Yes,” she nodded against me.

Yes.

Yes.

Eighty-six years. 1923.

Imagine those years… what he saw… what he suffered… surely he knew… surely he did hear The Dream come true… I know he did… and i believe, hearing made it easier for him to leave this world… on this particular day…

at the beginning of a New Hope…

2 thoughts on “Today…

  1. Xigent says:

    Magnificent. I don’t have the right superlative or absolute handy. Magnificent is close, though.

  2. catgem says:

    i’m so glad you liked it, dear X — and even more happy that you “get it”… of course there was never a doubt that you, of all people would…. thank you for that

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