Rainbow Tears

tears, crying, Pixabay“Are you sure you want to go?” I ask Violet.

“Oh, yes, the evening sounds delightful,” she answers in her proper English, with a slight quiver to her voice. Violet’s small, hazel eyes beam, the thin white hair on her head moving as if in a breeze as she nods her head.

“Dinner might be enough. You’ve just only been feeling better,” I suggest.  Violet and I became friends while she attended my writing classes. We’re a strange combination: she is an 80-year-old widow from New Zealand and works in a New Age city bookstore; I’m married, decades younger, and work in the suburbs.

“I read the book, Violet. It’s a sweet romance, but it’s sad too. I’m not sure the movie…”

“Oh that’s ridiculous. I’m not ancient, you know.” Violet walks slowly toward the theater, as if treading through three feet of water. movie theater, The Notebook, Pixabay

We settle into the plush seats, Violet holding a bag of popcorn bigger than she is. The previews end, the music introduces a pert teenaged girl and her new boyfriend, and we immediately get immersed in a labyrinthine story of a lilting  romance that almost crumbles. However, they reunite, happily marry, and raise a fetching family. Except after the children are raised, the couple, still deeply in love, battle the news that the wife has Alzheimer’s.

Halfway through the movie I hear a strange noise, somewhere between the mewling of a cat and the plaintive cry of a hurt bird. I stop crunching on the ice left over from my drink. Yes, I hear it again, louder this time. My worst fears are founded.

Violet is crying like a child whose dog has just died.

I bend my head over to Violet’s, feeling terribly guilty. I knew this movie would be too sad for her. Violet’s  husband died five years ago, she lives alone in a tiny home, her family is all gone. Why, why, why did I bring her to this morose film?

‘Violet,” I whisper, “let’s forget the rest of the movie and get dinner!” Violet loves food, something one would never guess by her diminutive frame.

movies, sad movies, The Notebook“No!” she answers emphatically. Then she continues to cry and watch the screen. As the Alzheimer’s worsens and the husband sings to his wife, Violet’s tears become sobs. At one point I’m afraid she can’t catch her breath. I sink down into my seat.

Finally, finally, the music reaches a crescendo, the credits roll, and people stand up to leave. Everyone, that is, except Violet and me. Violet is crying so hard she attracts attention; as the lights turn on, I see sympathetic expressions on those able to escape.

Ten minutes later, the tears stop; Violet hiccups softly, stands, and we leave the theater. I can’t imagine what she’ll  say to me when we settle into the car. Our friendship, perhaps, is ended.

Quietly, we put on our seatbelts. As I turn on the ignition, Violet says, “Wait!” I turn the car off and look at her. She stares at me, her eyes black and gleaming in the car’s darkness.

“I’m sorry…” I begin.

“No! Wait!” she says again. She pushes out her chest and takes in a deep breath of air. “That was beautiful, she exclaims.

I stare at her furtively. Did she say beautiful?

“That’s the way movies are supposed to be. Why can’t they make them more like that? Thank you, thank you.” Then Violet sits up straight and looks out the car’s window. “So, where are we going for dinner?”

rainbow, Kaui, Hawaii“THE SOUL WOULD  HAVE NO RAINBOW HAD THE EYES NO TEARS.” John Vance Cheney

126 thoughts on “Rainbow Tears

    • I can’t imagine how you must have felt when Violet starting crying! I never know when your stories are fictional or real. But I read the others comments and discovered it was real!!! When will the movies return to the big screen???

      Liked by 3 people

    • That’s a Frost quote I share with my creative writing students all the time. We need to cry when we put our character through something hard. And laugh with them. In this story’s case, Violet is a real person who cried her heart out. Don’t you love that expression? At times, that’s exactly how it feels.

      Liked by 2 people

    • That’s so true, Ally. Violet was an amazing woman – so unlike me and yet she liked me! She made me special “Australian” grilled cheese sandwiches and wrote and shared stories about her life as a child there. She’s since passed away and I miss her much.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. This is why I prefer to watch movies at home, with a box of tissues beside me. That was such a good book. Yes, I cried at the end of the book too. I sobbed uncontrollably at the end of a book I was reading o the bus. The bus driver asked if I was all right. I love Violette and I can see you do too.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The first time I realized I had a soft emotional spot for movies was when my parents took me to see the movie old yeller. They had to take me out of the theater because I couldn’t stop crying. Next time was when I was a teenager and my friends and I went to see a showing of west side story. Again, I was inconsolable. It was quite embarrassing. Since then I’ve been careful with the movies I see in a movie theater. But my mom and I used to go together once I was in mid-age and we’d wait until we got out to the parking lot and then just sob on each other shoulders. She finally begged me to only take her to comedies 😚

      Liked by 2 people

    • Violet certainly had a good appetite after that movie. I find it difficult to go out after a sob story because my eyes are too red and puffy! ☹️ to be honest, it takes a lot of courage to let go of our emotions like that. Violet had a good lesson for me and for all of us.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What a wonderful and beautiful share. I love Violet. I love when people show you that it’s okay to truly express what you are feeling. When we brought the kids to see “Eight Below” the whole lot sobbed… including us mothers.
    And I absolutely sobbed when I went to see “The Champ” – if I watch it today, I’ll start crying BEFORE the last fight…
    Crying is cleansing 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for your wonderful share here, Dale. Yes, you and I have that spot somewhere inside – our heart? our soul? – when even the thought of a sad movie or book can get us going. I agree that crying is cleansing but sometimes it really hurts. That’s why Violet’s courage was astounding to me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think, also, when we get older, we come to a point where we don’t give two effs and own how we feel.
        Yes, Crying can hurt. Crazy thing is, when I really need to? I look for a movie that will “help”…
        Heart, soul – whatever it is, I’m sure glad I have it!

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m afraid I’m the camp that still hasn’t learned to let go when I watch a movie. I can’t even watch “The Fox and the Hound.” I’m so glad you shared that experience with Violet! It sounds like she had a wealth of wisdom.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Wow. Very powerful. It bothers me when people try to shush away whatever emotion I might be feeling … sorrow, anger, giddy joy. That movie was just what Violet needed – for so many reasons. Thank you for the lovely story. You need to teach me how to write these meaningful stories in so brief words. Mine tend to be novels. Happy Easter, Pam. 🐰🌷

    Liked by 4 people

    • These pieces of flash (non-fiction in this case and some of my posts are flash fiction)are such great writing practice and a wonderful way to Spotlight a moment in time. Thank you so much for your comments, Lori. I think in our culture now we are taught to hide emotions, and that’s not healthy. You made me smile talking about giddy joy. Children are so good at that, and we are adults need to learn to regain joy. 💗

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Pam, I simply love the flashes of emotion . . . and wisdom.

    Violet is my kind of gal. I can relate to her tender feelings. I remember when my mother went to a seafood restaurant with us during a visit to Florida long ago. Oysters were on the menu but were not in season. She nearly cried when the waiter spilled the news. Mom was a good teacher, her emotions on the surface.

    Happy Easter, Pam, writer of shimmering images, sometimes through tears, which make the rainbows glow!

    Liked by 5 people

    • WelI . . . I love the story about your mom. She knew how to show exactly how she was feeling. No oysters! That’s just sad. What a great insight into your mother. Isn’t it interesting how we are taught usually to hide our feelings. Why? Violet really taught me a huge lesson. That said, I still bite my tongue instead of crying in front of others, particularly if we’re all watching TV and it’s a commercial that’s getting my eyes wet with tears. 🤔🙃😌
      Happy Easter my eggcellent friend. 🐣

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love good books and good movies that stirs the emotions. It makes you appreciate the written words that causes that smile, laugh, tears, anger, whatever. . .and you feel like you really got your money’s worth, whether book or movie. Good for Violet–no stiff upper lip there!
    Thank you for another great story, Pam!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I love Violet. She shows the full spectrum of feeling that makes us human. So very descriptive that I almost handed Violet my tissue. My son didn’t warn me about Pay It Forward. I sobbed so hard the couch shook. Thank goodness it was at home. I think it was my all time favorite movie other than Max Dugan Returns. No one’s heard of that one. Great story, Pam.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. What an exquisite story.
    I had a friend like Violet. She was 80 to my 30. She wrote a book about her experiences as a young bride arriving in the early 1900s in western Canada and homesteading. It became a Canadian bestseller. She also became the second oldest CBC RAdio commentator when she starred in her own weekly show at the age of 81.
    She was an amazing woman.
    Peggy taught me to always believe in magic, miracles and myself. And to always find laughter in life and to share love freely.
    Thank you for reminding me of Peggy, Pam, with your beautiful story.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Generally speaking, Violet measures a good book or a good movie the same way I do: if it makes me laugh or makes me cry, it’s a good story. (Although, Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing and it’s all too real and close to home for many of us.)

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree with you Anneli. Even if I don’t like the pain that comes from feeling so much for a character in a book or a movie, I dislike wasting my time on a shallow empty book or movie that only includes unlikable characters that I can’t empathize with.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. As your writing always does, I felt transported to the movie theatre. The desperation of not wanting Violet to feel raw emotion was as if it was my own discomfort. Beautifully wrtten Pam and gives one pause for thought. do we try to comfort others based on our own discomfort?

    Liked by 4 people

    • It is so difficult to see someone we care about cry their heart out. I’ve noticed that if I watch a TV show and a character cries I cry right there along with them. Like the song says, “the tracks of our tears.” But aren’t we lucky to feel so intensely, and to be empathetic enough to feel the pain of others? I hope this means that our tears also show love and compassion. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pam, your story is so realistic, exuding a thousand emotions, going straight to the heart. I am in awe of your creative talent. Each topic shines in your hands. Love you for being a fabulous writer.
    I agree with Violet… they don’t make such movies any more.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Your words gave me goosebumps, Balroop. For years I tried to hide my emotions and not let them out the way Violet did. But if we hide our emotions we certainly cannot write or be good writers, can we? So you have validated what I try to do in my stories. Many many thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, my! You touched my heart with this one. I suppose part of it is because I’ve been through my mom’s and mother-in-law’s dementia in the last few years, but mostly I feel this way because you’ve totally captured the feeling. That’s what all great writers do, Pam. Make us feel! I’m going to remember this piece for a long time. Bravo, my friend!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you Pete for such an honest and though response. Yes, I realized after the movie that Violet’s husband must have died from dementia. And you and I of course have experienced it with our moms – I’m not sure if there’s any disease worse. So why put ourselves through the pain of seeing a movie like that? To let it all out and feel cleansed. I believe stories can do that to us readers. Cleanse us inside out. 💙

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved your sharing the story, Pam. You were kindred spirits. We all need wise women in our lives — I have had so many throughout my life and they were always 20 years older than me — many, spiritual like Violet. Did you take her to see the “Notebook?” Such a beautiful love story!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, I took Violet to see the notebook and until her thanks to me at the very end, I berated myself for doing so. But yes these are the kinds of movies that stir our soul and help us see exactly what is inside us. Like you, I have always had friends who are decades older than me, and I am so much better for it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I must admit in past years I have avoided strong emotional movies like these because I know how much they can hurt inside and how hard it is to hold back the emotion. But now I am hoping to get braver and to go for it! Like Violet. 💜

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  14. When I watched that movie with my husband, we were both blubbering. So beautiful. I agree with Violet, Pam. The deeper the love, the deeper the pain. It’s one of the crazy pairs of life. And we are all willing to accept the pain to have that kind of love. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  15. I love spending time with the elderly and even though I am in my 60’s, I do not consider myself elderly (yet). Maybe/hopefully I will never feel ancient.

    Possibly, when tears become sobs, is indicative of a beautiful, moving movie. And, as I continue to read your story, you use the word “beautiful,” Pam. “…the way movies are supposed to be.” If I am fortunate to grow older, I hope someone takes me to a “beautiful” movie. I know I will appreciate this. ❤️

    Liked by 5 people

  16. What a beautiful, true story, Pam. It is deeply moving to see a love story that lasts a lifetime and has to deal with such a cruel disease at the end. It makes me think of what my grandparents went through. Crying is such a necessary catharsis for some of us, and good movies make us realize how universal the human experience can be, and how profoundly connected we all are. 💕

    Liked by 3 people

    • If it had not been for Violet, I would have been violently crying during that movie also. But I was too busy worrying about her. People may make fun of books and movies like the notebook (too sentimental and sobby they say) but in fact these stories speak to the fears and realities for many of us.

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  17. I loved this! It just goes to show how easy it is to misunderstand other people’s emotions, thoughts, and reactions. And if it can happen this easily to someone we know, just think about all the misunderstandings that happen with those we don’t know. I also have to say that I sort of agree with Violet…I like movies that really touch me, in any sort of way.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Sometimes crying is the the secret passageway from sadness (or depression) to happiness. We let it out and let it go.

    I have a friend like your Violet. Gloria’s 90. Her kids are my age. I haven’t seen her much during the pandemic . . . but we’ve had a few quick visits. Always a delight to see her. Glad that you have such fond memories of your Violet.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Such a lovely story — I really don’t like the feeling of being sobby-sad, though I suppose there is a bit of cathartic therapy from it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • When I was younger, I had times when I was a sobbing soggy mess at movies; I learned to build a wall around my feelings so that would not happen. Then Violet taught me that it’s OK to feel and to show emotion. It’s healthy! 😊

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    • This happened exactly the way I wrote it. I just changed Violet’s name for privacy but everything else is as it happened. I know my posts go back-and-forth between being fiction and nonfiction but I truly believe that fiction is just as much reality as those that we don’t make up. Either way, if the story is honest and brings us to tears and perhaps a greater understanding of what it is to be human, then it’s true. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  20. What a lovely moment you caught in your story! Of course Violet liked it. Many people love sad movies. My middle daughter is the most sensitive and passionate of the three. She loves sad movies. What’s hard on her is having no outlet for her feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Books and movies can be a great outlet for emotions, I agree. But I must admit, it hurts to feel those emotions, even when it’s over a character. I’m probably a lot like your middle daughter!

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    • I find sad movies so challenging because it’s so hard to let go and once the tears are released they don’t seem to want to stop. Scary movies are out of my realm. I’d have nightmares for days. I am a weakling. 🤓

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Wow, beautiful story. I remember watching “The Notebook” with my wife a few years ago. It was a very moving film and certainly puts life into perspective. Thanks for sharing.

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