"Living the Rest of My Life"

A review by Jenni:

What I love about this episode:
This is one of those episodes that I know I watched but couldn't really recall.  Yet it became obvious as I watched that it was tucked somewhere in my memory cause I totally knew Abby's son would stand her up for her birthday.  And I knew he blew her life savings.  But what really struck me about this episode is that while it didn't really impact me deeply initially, I found I quite enjoyed the episode.  After "Quality Time," which I also barely remembered, I was kinda leery about watching this.  But it was solid.

First off, I love that this episode begins with something that everybody should be aware of: don't talk about people when there's a chance they might hear you!!!  Granted, even I probably wouldn't think about how sound carries through vents.  But I've been witness to (and victim of) people saying stuff that shouldn't be heard by Person X as Person X is in the position to hear perfectly.  So Abby hearing her son's and daughter-in-law's "private" conversation with her is very realistic and hopefully served as a nice lesson to people who need to keep quiet at times but fail to realize it.

Ha!  Yet again TBAA validates something I wrote!  See, I think I internalized waaay more about these characters than I sometimes realize.  To explain: I wrote a story recently wherein Monica pitied someone who absolutely did NOT want pity and who should NOT have been pitied.  And I wondered if I was maybe laying it on a lil thick.  But here Monica does exactly that.  And, happily, Tess calls her on it by saying that Abigail absolutely does not need or want pity. 

I miss the "good old days" with hats, too...  It seems like one can only wear pretty hats and not be thought eccentric if one's very young or very old.  Or British and at a royal party.  During TBAA's run I did wear some Monica-esque hats but now they just don't seem to even exist.

Crikey.  How current does this episode seem!?!  I did a double take when Abigail warned her son about the unreliability of stocks.  And then, of course, the entire financial meltdown they experience.  This could very nearly air today and seem like it was written last month.

"Into each family a little dysfunction must fall."  I love that Tess quote!  It's actually refreshing to know that an angel thinks dysfunction is a given.  This episode really seemed like an excellent counterpoint to what was, for me at least, a very disappointing "Quality Time."  On that prior episode, we have a "perfect" family.  On this, we're told out right that dysfunction happens.  And, thus, this seemed like a much more real and far less exasperating episode.

I really appreciated how this episode blasted all the assumptions about retirement homes.  Now, I know that there are some which are NOT good and probly do house lonely, sad people.  But one of my grandmas is in one and wow...  They do have a lot going on.  There are most definitely old people far more energetic and social than me.  This much I know.  So I love that TBAA featured vibrant older characters in several episodes.  "The Journalist" is another great example.  And a great episode.

"We all have our specialties and no one's should be wasted."  That's another quote from Tess that really struck me.  Cause I think too many of us hide our gifts.  Or else don't spend time on them cause we don't see it as productive.  (That's me.)  But God gave ya the gift so... use it!

OMG.  That pan Lois painted really was beautiful!  I love stuff like that.  I like art that repurposes common things. 

So here's the thing: I think friendship can sprout between anyone.  Some people are just connected regardless of their differences.  However... as I've gotten older I have come to realize that there is something to be said for having friends one own's age.  When Abby mentioned being with "folks who remember things I remember," that spoke to me.  Sometimes I feel bad cause I work mostly with people a generation or two older than me.  And sometimes I feel like they want me to be more part of the group.  But I find I make references to things that they just smile and nod at.  Or they really care about a topic that isn't yet part of who I am.  So while I would never automatically rule out a friendship based on age, it felt kinda validating to hear an older person voice that sentiment. 

I also loved Abby's lil speech about losing her beloved husband but continuing on with her life.  I know two older women who have lost husbands.  The first to become widowed was more like Lois.  Sad and unable to move on.  The second is more like Abby.  For a while there, I found myself not even wanting to contemplate marriage because if the best case scenario meant having a beautiful life together and then spending a number of years depressed and irritable... why would I do that?  I don't want to become that!  Now I have a healthier role model for that situation.  So God bless the Abbys of the world who show that loss doesn't mean the end of your own life.

I liked that at the start it seems like Abby's daughter-in-law is gonna be the problem.  But it turns out her son is really the misfit and Judith is genuinely sorry about what befalls Abby.  Sometimes life is like that.  The people you expect to be supportive aren't but then support comes from the unlikeliest source.

It also seemed true to life as I know it when Abby voiced to Lois "we put our men first."  I've never been married.  But it does seem like that is the case, especially among women of older generations.  I used to think that was just outright wrong.  Now... well, now I think it's more complicated.  I think it goes back to what I said about the two presentations of widowhood.  If one wants to make someone else their first priority and that brings them joy... who are the rest of us to judge?  But if they do that to the extent of not developing their own life, then it likely is problematic.  What I liked about this episode is that it was largely about using these lives God gave us to be fulfilled.  If that happens as a devoted wife... wonderful!  If it stems from painting or making hats: great!  If it's a combination: good for you!  Just don't stop living.

It was sweet to see how much Lois' apology and praise meant to Ramone.  I would have liked to have seen a mentorship develop between those two.

Even though I knew it was coming... I couldn't believe Phillip used all of his own mother's life savings!  Yes, I was genuinely surprised at how wrapped up in this episode I got.  I know it might sound weird... but I think I did kinda end up relating to Abby.  Maybe, in some ways, an older person moving away from family brings up some of the same stuff as a younger person moving out for the first time. 

I wish Ms. Reese had written or co-written more episodes.  I have a suspicion that her version of compassion and morality is a lil more like my own than that of some TBAA writers.  For example, I love that Tess outright said that the way Phillip's behavior made Abby feel is important... not how Phillip feels.  That was the resolve I would have loved to have seen in other episodes.  Like "Full Moon," for example.  While I don't think Carl got a free pass, I would have loved to have heard an angel say "What Sarah wants is important.  Right now, your need for forgiveness from her is absolutely not important." 

Along those same lines, Tess goes on to say that Phillip stealing the money was not a mistake but deliberate theft.  Oh to have had such truth telling in "Quality Time"!  It immediately made me think of Andrew's asinine reply to the young boy's fretting about his parents leaving him.  Mistakes and bad behavior are two different things.

Truly, this episode really did kinda put a balm on all that most annoyed me about "Quality Time."  Tess' revelation about God as a disappointed parent was excellent.  I loved what she said about how He doesn't bend rules or stop being who He is just to cover for us when we screw up.  He lets us face consequences so we can grow.  It was wonderful to have TBAA espouse that brand of parenting which is desperately needed over the brand practiced by "Quality Time"-type helicopter parents and their opposites: the neglectful ones.  I'm kinda thinking maybe there's such a thing as "tough compassion."  Like "tough love."  Compassion may not always be swooping in to smooth over another's mistakes or console them that it'll be all right when it's obvious they did something wrong.  Maybe "tough compassion" is being there for them but ensuring that they truly see the impact of their actions and the need to make them right.  Cause no one does someone else any favors by glossing over their wrongdoings so that they can just keep on making the same and worse transgressions until they're uncontrollable.

"Sometimes, baby, the best thing you can do for people is to let them take care of themselves.  And trust God to take care of the rest."  Another Tess quote I picked up on the second viewing.  I very much agree.

Another counterpoint to what bothered me about "Full Moon" comes when Abby shows Phillip his baby book.  It was the same sorta idea as having Carl see his younger, weeping self.  But I felt less manipulated.  I'm not quite sure why.  But "Full Moon" kinda left me feeling like I was cold-hearted to not want to jump right to "Poor Carl, he was once a sweet boy."  Here I didn't feel like I was supposed to break my heart over lil Phillip but that, instead, it was presented merely to impact Phillip.  And that the episode was still very much about Abby and *her* experience.  "Full Moon" made me feel like Sarah became a footnote by the end.  This stayed on track.

What I didn't love about this episode:

This isn't a huge deal but... Monica's all nostalgic about generations living together.  Both she and Tess talk as if it's some bygone thing.  However... TBAA has shown us and spoken of the angels having assignments in several countries.  And I'm told that in many countries, multi-generational housing is still commonplace.  So it seems a little odd they'd be nostalgic about something that, on a global level, isn't gone.  Of course, now it's becoming more common here thanks to our lil recession problem...

Gah, Phillip!  While I remembered some of his badness... I did NOT remember that he stole cash!  Imagine!  And then that he lost $100,000!  I knew he lost his mom's life savings but to hear the actual dollar amount... yikes.  How awful.  So no love for Phillip from me!  But writing-wise, I think he was handled well.

Lingering questions:
I wonder if it's difficult to be an actor on a show and write an episode?  I would get all concerned about if I would inadvertently offend my co-stars by not writing them enough scenes.  Really, I'd probly be a basket case and just annoy them with constant phone calls.  "I don't know what to do with your character but I love you!  Please don't be mad!"  Or else I'd try to cram them all in equally and just wind up making a cruddy script.

Is there a more male-centric version of "cutting the apron strings"?  Yes, I realize men can and do wear aprons.  But every time I hear that phrase, it's in reference to a woman keeping someone too close.  But it could be the man.  So how does one express that?

Do people really talk aloud to soap opera characters that they watch alone?  I see it all the time on TV but never in life.  I've seen people shout at sports.  I've seen people talk to characters when watching a movie with a group and everyone's commenting.  But I've never seen a lone person talk to a character.  And I don't think I do it myself.  Even when I write here about wanting to scream at a TBAA person, I don't believe I actually do it aloud.

Why did Abby initially give her checkbook to her son?  I just don't get that...

Parts that made me feel swoony:
When I barely remember an episode, I know it's a sign that Andrew will be scarce.  Such is the case here.  And in such episodes... I get desperate.  In one episode, I was so focused on trying to find Andrew that I mistook an African American man for him.  In this episode, I saw an elderly gentleman on screen and also thought he was Andrew.  Maybe I should just get myself an Andrew paper doll, prop it up in the corner of the screen, and stop playing mind games.  Or else I will eventually see, I dunno, lounge chairs and think they're Andrew. 

Andrew's scarceness aside... the man's attractiveness jumps several points when he's holding that wrench.  Love the lovely and handy angel.  I need an Andrew...  He could fix stuff and then I could spoil him with completely platonic affection.  And then we could volunteer places together.  Yes, this is seriously the stuff my day dreams are made on.

I'm noticing a disturbing trend in which Tess or Monica offers food or drink to the other... with Andrew present... but not to Andrew.  Okay, okay.  So it's just here with the birthday cake and in "Millennium" with the tea.  So maybe that doesn't really make it a trend.  But still... sad.  Andrew deserves tea and cake!  Maybe I'll explain this lapse away by telling myself that Monica didn't offer Andrew cake cause she knew he'd just been in Dyeland where he was thoroughly spoiled with treats from admiring young ladies.  So she didn't offer him any cake in the same way you wouldn't feed your pet fish if you knew someone else just did.  But I don't like comparing Andrew to a small creature with gills...  It's still polite to ask.  He shoulda been asked.  Still, it's cute that he took the piece to try and get through to Ramone.  Love Andrew.  I would give him cake.  With ice cream.  And coffee.

Love the read sweater.  It's kinda close to being a henley.

I'm so jealous when Andrew dips Monica...  But it's super adorable that he wanted to dance.  That's it!  I'm definitely having him go dancing in this story I'm working on.  I was debating it but this settles it.

Random thoughts:

Music:  You can hear 30s/40s-style, possibly swing music at three points in this episode.  First, in Abby's room at the home right after she moves in.  Then again during the fund raiser.  Also at the end.  I couldn't identify any of it. 

I thought it was interesting and cool that in her writing credits, Ms. Reese used her married name. 

Scenes Hallmark cut:
-I'll watch the CBS version tomorrow but right off I'm gonna guess they cut a scene of Abby telling Lois how much she and Vincent loved the painting.  Cause in a scene THC does include, Abby makes reference to such a discussion happening.  ETA: THC cuts a lot but not this.  Despite Abby's reference, the original version does not have any scene of a discussion of the painting.

-Augh.  I knew there had to be at least one cut Andrew scene.  And there is...  After the scene of Abby and her son wherein he rudely asks where she's been, the show goes back to the home where Andrew (wearing a tightish, brownish-olive turtleneck sweater with jeans) shares his appreciation of the mural with Ramone.  Andrew makes note of how good the use of color is.  Ramone ignores him.  (Ramone, I get that you're a guy but seriously... ignoring Andrew?!?)  So Andrew does one of those kinda sarcastic "Hello?"s that ya do when someone is zoned out or outright ignoring you.  Ramone responds that the law says he has to work, not talk.  Andrew agrees, assumedly trying to get on the boy's good side.  But he goes onto say that he doesn't think Ramone realizes that he has entire room of people willing to listen to him.  (And there are some lovely close-up shots that I'm mad I can't take snaps of... thanks THC.)  Andrew guesses that this is the first time Ramone's ever had that so ponders why he doesn't let himself enjoy it.  Ramone looks at him.  It seems as if Andrew's words kinda got to him.  Then Monica enters and asks if Ramone has anything to contribute to the fundraiser.  Ramone responds with "Excuse me?"  Monica explains how everyone is offering something.  Ramone shoots back that he doesn't live there.  Monica tells him that he's part of the family and she'll leave him to think about it.  Our friendly muralist replies with a cheesy grin.  Monica leaves.  Andrew smiles.  Ramone returns to his mural.  On the plus side, I feel better knowing that Ms. Reese did include more Andrew in her story than was immediately apparent.

-After Abby moves out, the next segment begins with Phillip and Judith entering the kitchen.  Phillip is wondering where his mom is and why she didn't make breakfast.  Judith surmises that she went for a walk and that, anyway, Phillip can make his own breakfast (heck yeah).  Then she finds the note on the coffee maker.  The couple reads it.  Then it goes to Abby in her new room but THC cut part of that, too.  The real version begins with her unpacking Vincent's photo.  (That's what she's dancing with.)  She tells him she did it and then murmurs that he always wanted the best for her and that she finally decided he was right.  She smiles and says this is where she's waiting for her "transportation to glory."  It's sweet.  The THC version starts right after that.

Further on down the road:
Nice...  I like the photo of Andrew on the episode list of this DVD.  Anyhow...

Kinda weird to think that when you're gone, angels might come into your room and play with your accessories. 

Is it wrong that when I retire I really do just want to sit around and watch TV and movies?  Not exclusively.  But a lot.  And read.  A lot.

I do not even know how my mom would react if one of us asked "Where the hell have you been?" but I'm gonna guess it wouldn't be pretty!  And rightly so.

Sigh...  Andrew does look mighty fine in fitted sweaters.  And I love his annoyed "Hello!"

Maybe this would be a good bucket list item: Find a painting to fall in love with.  I'm just not into big trips and flashy experiences but that sounds nice.

Oh Andrew...  Dear, sweet Andrew...  Sugar is a starting place when trying to win people over.  Not a last resort.  ;-)

I do still like the twist that it ends up being Judith who has more of a heart and genuinely wills the best for Abby while the son's completely off.

So lately, with writing, I've really been exploring the opposite gender relationships.  Thus, I found myself interested in Abby's and Lois' discussion about putting their men first.  That's probably true for some if not most couples.  What really interests me is when both people are self-sacrificing.  Would that be more or less frustrating in real life?

Angels are NOT always right, Tess.  I think when they're glowing and, thus, speaking for God then they are.  But as depicted on TBAA, they screwed up several times when not in revelation mode.  I'm really surprised they let that line slip in there.  It's blatantly untrue within the rest of the show.

Sigh...  And many if not all of us reading this would love to be Monica at the end of this episode.

And note to my younger self: Can't use Dyeland as a cover for Monica not offering Andrew cake.  He hadn't yet met his friends there at this point.  Wah-wah.

A Word from Travis:
This is one of the few TBAA episodes that I viewed when it originally aired. I was interesting to find out that this episodeís story/teleplay was by Ms. Della Reese (along with Burt Pearl).  I didnít know Ms. Reese was involved in writing any of the seriesí episodes. A fantastic episode indeed!

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