A Man Called Otto

In general, I do not care for the iPhone’s image processing. The images look cooked to me. However, sometimes it is the camera I have in hand. Such was the case when the sun broke below the clouds during a shower at the Summit Lake research station. So, I made the capture, cooked or not.

Last night it was too hot to be outdoors and too hot in my workroom. So, I made a gin and tonic (light) and sat on the sofa. The Girl discovered I was on the sofa and came in to be close. I am good with that.

I started Netflix and put in my AirPods (the Apple TV now recognizes them) and set them to noise cancel mode. The swampy in the living room is pretty noisy. So are all the fans running in the house.

I decided to watch A Man Called Otto. Tom Hanks is a favorite actor and I have enjoyed his dramatic work. I was unprepared for the impact of the story, though.

Otto is a late middle-aged engineer who is retired after a company merger and is a widow. The plot does not reveal much at the beginning and I will produce no spoilers here. The movie is listed as a dramatic comedy, but I did not find much funny in it.

What I found was an immediate connection to the Otto character, not so much for the stereotypical fastidiousness of an engineer, but for the depth of grief for his beloved life.

The poignancy of his recollections of time spent together hit me over and over. Sometimes the hits were light; others were body blows. I was startled at my emotional reaction to these vignettes and paused the movie several times to reflect, grieve a little, and collect myself.

The experience reminded me that my own grief remains alive and well, thank you very much. It is not that I have not processed my grief; nor has it not be healed (at least to the extent that such grief can ever be healed). It is simply that I find myself still missing Wife and all the times and places we shared together.

Like Otto, I still find myself reminded of a time and place where we were together doing things. All the time building a life together, finding multiple houses and making homes of them, taking care of the kids and enjoying most of that process, traveling (mostly to see family) and all the stories that come from that, and just spending the morning together sharing breakfast and solving the world’s problems at the table over coffee (for me) and tea (for her).

Many times those memories raise some longing, nostalgia, and melancholy. These emotions are often mixed with joy and a laugh at the circumstance. It is a powerful, poignant cocktail of emotions, all right. No one will ever say she was a saint; but neither am I. But it was a good life together and she remains loved and definitely missed.

The movie reminded me of something my friend Jim told me after Wife died…

It sucks. It’ll always suck. But in time it will suck less…

I took him at his word more that 11-years ago. With time, I found he was right. And it still sucks, even if the suck is less.

You are missed, Old Girl. You will always be missed.

The Girl looked up over her shoulder at me several times during the movie. She even rose up to nuzzle me a few times, her whiskers stiff and tickly. It is her way of giving kisses. Unlike many dogs, she knows the difference between a lick (social wash or sign of submission) and a kiss of affection. She is my best buddy, my constant companion, and the love of my life. She reads me and responds.

I’ll take the pain. I am grateful. Life is still good.

2 thoughts on “A Man Called Otto”

  1. Your words always touch the soul. I too miss Janet. It had been bearable until mom and dad passed. But I found myself needing her to help me through my own grief. This too shall pass or at least ease a bit with more time. Or at least I pray it will. Hugs to you brother!

    1. I hear you, sis. My mom and dad died long ago and my sisters didn’t last a lot longer. So, I don’t share your experience. But I sure know the loss and it comes back every now and again to remind me.

      And, I think, that’s OK. Hang in there sis! Love ya…

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