Bridges of Madison County

While Hollywood continues to ignore women, Broadway continues to do an awesome job of letting women run the show. This is a delicious musical made from a bestselling book. I never read the book, because I thought, “Oh, that’s trashy reading, not for me. I’m so literary.”

But this show was for me. The musical explores stay-at-home mother Francesca’s complicated feelings when a handsome artist, a photographer from National Geographic, crosses her small town path, just for a few days.

I made the mistake of going to see this with one of teenagers. I should’ve seen it with a girlfriend. Because, yes, it’s a show about an extramarital love affair, but it’s also very much about best friends and women supporting each other. I need to debrief this show.

As her affair unfolds, I worried that our heroine, played by the brilliant Kelli O’Hara, was going to be busted by the gossipy neighbor Marge, played by the funny and charming Cass Morgan. But Marge never outs Francesca. She helps her. See, there’s marital loyalty, which is on the wane, and then there’s girlfriends’ loyalty, which never goes out of fashion.

I love the singing. And I love the set. The covered bridge is this simple, floating, bare-bones structure, not an oppressive, dark archway. Nice. I’d like to think that this ‘lightness of being’ can translate into our idea about marriage too. Marriage, a covered bridge, can be lighter and less oppressive than it looks.

Francesca’s heaviness of marital love is brightened by something — or someone — light. The two artists are drawn to each other, even in Iowa, even in the 1960s.

I love the way they talk about art and photography. I love the story.

Marriage is simpler and more complicated than it seems — less trashy novel, more sophisticated musical. And Francesca was loyal and unfaithful at the same time. Bridges of Madison County got me thinking about all that.

bridges of madison county
(Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale, courtesy of Bridges)

Disclaimer: Thanks to Bridges of Madison County and the Serino/Coyne group for the tickets. The opinions on this blog are always my own.

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Tiger Woods

Ask me if I care about the infidelity of Tiger Woods. My answer is a loud and clear No!

Let me rephrase that, “No, thank you. I’ve had enough.”

Besides, I’m trying to find the good. I just finished writing an article about women artists in Haiti making gratitude journals for income. That, to me, is worth paying attention to. 

Who wouldn’t want to read about people making a positive difference? Do we all really want to feast on the latest celebrity to implode?

Let’s face it. It’s hard to praise. It’s easy to criticize. It’s hard to create. It’s easy to destroy. (Even in this blog post, I’m going negative about people going negative.)

But let me try to remember My Rule Numer 5:  Expect the best, love what you get.

Maybe I’m thinking about all of this, because I have given up gossip and criticism for Lent. I’m feeling righteous. And it’s really hard. (My friend Barbara told me not to give up both — one or the other. But heck, I’m an overachiever!)

I want to go through life finding the good in people. It’s actually harder to be happy, joyful, optimistic than it is to critical, snarky, mean.

Does anyone have any good news? I’m open to hear it.

Of Love & Alzheimer's & WSJ

This is a personal email I sent after reading this article in the Wall Street Journal
 Dear Dr. G.,

I am writing to you as a member of The United Methodist Church and not as the staff writer of a United Methodist agency. My husband has Parkinson’s Disease and I attend a support group for spouses of the chronically ill.

It’s great that the United Methodist Church was mentioned in the article in the Wall Street Journal on Love and Alzheimer’s!
In a loving, kind, and diplomatic way, I ask you to reconsider that the marriage vows of “sickness and health” apply to marriages where one of the spouses has serious mental compromises. I believe that this view has caused the well spouses to become unhealthy, unhappy, and uncaring for their own basic needs, contributing to the stark statistic of earlier deaths of the caregiving spouse.

A lovely older gentleman, Gil, in a support group I attend has been often near tears about his wife’s demise with Alzheimer’s. She is currently in a nursing home and has no recognition of her husband. He has found friendship, love and solace with another woman, who often visits the nursing home with Gil. Our support group has been heartened to see Gil happy and capable of now dealing with his wife much better.
I believe that within Christian denominations – as in the Jewish faith quoted in the article – there is room for more compassion and understanding as to the safe and life-affirming decisions that a well spouse like Gil may make about his own need to continue with life, even as his wife’s life continues on a difficult and challenging trajectory. The truth is she is not the same person, she does not even recognize him. It is very difficult for him. I applaud his new love, while also applaud his deep commitment to his wife. Life is complicated. I have compassion.

Thanks for reading this. – MB


I felt great when I received this email….
Thank you, MaryBeth

I greatly appreciate your letter and your compassion.

I do agree with you, personally. In the article, I was asked the stance

of the UMC on this matter.

I reported what the UMC states regarding marriage. Although I may

differ with the official church position on some matters (including its

views on homosexuality), as a staff member of an agency of the church, I

am obligated to share what I believe the position of the UMC is. And as

such, in the interview, that is what was reported.

I am hopeful that the UM Committee on Older Adult Ministries will

address this issue and bring some form of legislation/resolution to the

next General Conference.

In the meantime, please know that I, too, am sympathetic and

compassionate; but, sometimes, official church policy does not always

reflect our sense of compassion.

Again, please know that I appreciate your letter very much, and I, too,

wrestle with these and other issues that impact the spiritual well-being

of older adults.

If I can be of further help, please let me know.

Grace and peace,