Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Ghost Story

My maternal grandfather -- "Papaw," we called him -- died just before my 24th birthday. I grew up living beside him, so he helped raise me.

We were very close.

Papaw had a quirky sense of humor, and anxious mannerism I notice in my adult self.  He was a bit of a rebel; the sort of guy who bent the rules just up to the point of breaking them and, then, just a little more if he could.

He was the guy who would come back from the afterlife, if coming back from an afterlife was possible.

That he was that-sorta-guy haunted me for months after his death. Although I doubted an afterlife existed, I wasn't certain at that time in my life and couldn't discount it. That he was a rules-bender gave my grandmother hope. Anytime I visited her after his death, the conversation always drifted to:

Mamaw: "I'd give anything for Junior to walk into this room right now and say hello."

Me: "Yeah, but then he'd be a ghost."

Mamaw: "That doesn't matter. When you love someone as much as I love him, that doesn't matter."

Me: "Listen, I loved the man. But I ain't excited to see him as a ghost. That would freak me out! I'd scream, and run outta this house. Nope, no ghost-Papaw for me, thanks."

She'd get really quiet, and then just smile. As if I didn't understand.

Because -- as I realize more than a quarter-century later -- I didn't.

I thought about those exchanges while watching A Ghost Story. Written and directed by David Lowery, this Casey Affleck flick takes its time exploring the emotions of love and grief, and the power of personal connection. Lowery's story suggests love and grief are so powerful that they can allow us to bend the rules.

Even the rules that govern death and the afterlife.

A Ghost Story is a supernatural drama that isn't scary, and it's not an action movie -- in fact, one of the most powerful scenes in the film simply shows a woman sitting on the kitchen floor eating pie. But it's a movie that will move you in the end, if you have the patience to watch.