I think a lot about my parents and the roles they've settled for in life. Especially when it comes to my mom. She had a full scholarship to Princeton University for computing. Now to give you some context, my mom was a straight-A student who finished high school in 1981. As a well-spoken, tall, attractive women entering the IT field in America in its nascent stages, I'm sure she could've done well for herself, especially as a Princeton grad back when a Bachelor's degree was actually worth something.
She got married at 17, however, and became a housewife. It was entirely her choice, and I'd like to think her life had some truly happy moments, but I can't help but see a woman who's now struggling with a hypo-active thyroid, and the health complications that go along with that, and wonder what could have been. I also wish that there was more I could do for her. Wish I could make more money and somehow work even more jobs, or sell some scripts, or hit it "big" enough to somehow to take care of my own family and her, as well.
Just for a little bit of freedom, just to help her live out whatever she wanted to do. Any places she wanted to see. Or even give her a more comfortable living situation, because after all, she sacrificed a hell of a lot to make sure her kids were happy.
Which is why I find this documentary, Duty Free, so darn touching.
The movie chronicles a son's attempt at helping his 75-year-old mother who was unceremoniously fired from her job cross some items off of her bucket list. He put the project up on Kickstarter and has managed to reach nearly half of his project's $50,000 goal.
The filmmaker wrote about what prompted him to make this touching movie.
"After working every day of her adult life, my mom - a single mom - was fired from her job at age 75. To help her deal with the pain of this loss, I encouraged her to write out a list of all the things she could never do while on the clock, and one by one, we ticked the items off her bucket list. Throughout these adventures, my mom really lived -- she took a hip hop class with a "Hamilton" dancer; she finally got to visit her sister's grave in the UK; she reunited with her daughter and the granddaughter she hadn't seen in a decade. But without an income, the realities of unemployment loomed."
"The documentary tells the story of this growing tension between freedom and a lack of security; it highlights the universal, and inevitable, role reversal of parent and child. And it shows the reality of life today for middle-class senior citizens."
The two have managed to cross off the larger and more expensive bucket list items, but they're not done yet.
She still wants to skydive, walk the Boston marathon route, and visit her first home in Detroit. You can learn more about her and her son's journey here.